Review: ‘Don’t Look Up’ (2021), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Rob Morgan, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry and Jonah Hill

December 8, 2021

by Carla Hay

Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in “Don’t Look Up” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

“Don’t Look Up” (2021)

Directed by Adam McKay

Culture Representation: Taking place in the United States (mostly in Michigan, Illinois and Washington, D.C.) during the six months before an apocalypse, the dark comedy film “Don’t Look Up” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans and Asians) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: After a Ph.D. student in astronomy discovers that a catastrophic comet is headed to Earth to destroy the planet in six months, people have varying reactions, including a stubborn refusal to believe that the apocalypse is coming. 

Culture Audience: “Don’t Look Up” will appeal primarily to fans of the movie’s star-studded cast and apocalyptic comedies that repeat the same types of gags for an overly long runtime of more than two-and-a-half hours.

Pictured in front row, from left to right: Jonah Hill (seated) Paul Guilfoyle (seated), Mark Rylance (standing) and Meryl Streep (seated) in “Don’t Look Up” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

The dark comedy “Don’t Look Up” is the equivalent of watching an annoyingly smug hack comedian tell the same clumsily executed joke for more than two hours. This movie crams in a lot of big-name stars to try to make it look better than it really is. In trying to make a point about complacency and denial about how climate change is a global crisis, writer/director/producer Adam McKay instead mishandles that point in “Don’t Look Up,” by not only overselling it with stunt casting but also selling it short with a bloated and messy story.

In a statement in the production notes for “Don’t Look Up,” McKay says that he was inspired to do the movie after reading David Wallace-Wells’ 2019 non-fiction book “The Uninhabitable Earth.” In the statement, McKay comments on the book: “I couldn’t get it out of my head. It depicts the ways in which global warming will wreak havoc on the planet if nothing is done to combat the climate crisis.”

McKay continues, “And, it all boiled down to this idea I just couldn’t shake: We all know how to react when there is a killer with an ax, or when your house is on fire, but what the author David Wallace-Wells was writing about was a million times worse. How do we get people to realize this is a clear and present danger? How close does that danger have to be for us to have the proper response? I felt like I needed to write this script.”

Based on the disappointing end results of “Don’t Look Up,” McKay should’ve spent more time honing the script, which lazily repeats the same gimmick about climate-change deniers being blithering idiots, and hammers this stereotype all over the movie like a robotic jackhammer on full-blast. Almost all of the people in the movie are caricatures who aren’t very funny at all. In a movie about an impending apocalypse, most of the main characters are not seen with any family members or even shown talking about family members. That’s how phony “Don’t Look Up” is and how it makes these caricatures just hollow vessels for the movie’s dumb jokes.

McKay and the other “Don’t Look Up” filmmakers seem to have spent more energy corralling numerous celebrity cast members (many of whom are Oscar winners and Oscar nominees) to overstuff the movie, rather than giving these cast members well-rounded characters to play. All of the characters are extremely shallow and one-note. And for a movie that has an all-star cast and is set primarily in the United States, it’s appallingly exclusionary and racist that the “Don’t Look Up” filmmakers couldn’t be bothered to cast any Hispanic/Latino people to be among the stars of the movie. When people talk about how Hispanic/Latino people are underrepresented in American-made movies, “Don’t Look Up” is part of that problem.

“Don’t Look Up” is the type of movie that takes more than two-and-a-half hours (138 minutes, to be exact) to tell a story that could’ve been told in 90 minutes or less. And even if the movie had been about 90 minutes, it still would be stretched too thin by the flimsy plot. If you want to watch an apocalypse movie where people deny that an apocalypse is going to happen, and other people get angry at these deniers, while everyone mugs for the camera and tells really pathetic and poorly written jokes, then “Don’t Look Up” is the movie for you.

In “Don’t Look Up,” Jennifer Lawrence portrays Kate Dibiasky, a Ph.D. student in astronomy at Michigan State University. Kate works in an unrealistic-looking high-tech science lab that looks like a movie set, not a lab that’s supposed to be on a university campus. Kate is a character that looks like what an uptight person thinks is “edgy,” because Kate’s hair is dyed bright red, she wears a nose ring, and she likes to smoke marijuana. One day, a bored-looking Kate sees on her computer monitor that an unusual comet is in the universe. She perks up when she finds out that this comet is extremely rare.

She alerts her professor/supervisor Dr. Randall Mindy (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), who is so elated by this comet discovery, he throws an impromptu party with other students in the lab. But that elation soon turns to horror, when Randall calculates during the party that this comet is actually headed toward Earth. He’s so freaked out by these results that he doesn’t tell his students right away and quickly orders them to leave the building. However, he tells Kate to stay behind and confides his suspicions to her. Kate does her own calculations and finds out that the comet will destroy Earth in six months and 14 days.

Kate and Randall call high-level people at NASA, including NASA chief Dr. Jocelyn Calder (played by Hettienne Park), who is skeptical and doesn’t want to deal with investigating this claim about a comet that will destroy Earth. She passes Kate and Randall off to her underling Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe (played by Rob Morgan), who is NASA’s head of planetary defense. Dr. Oglethorpe essentially becomes an awkward sidekick to Kate and Randall for much of the movie.

The next thing you know, Kate and Randall are whisked on a military plane to the White House, where they meet President Janie Orlean (played by Meryl Streep), who is obviously supposed to be a female version of Donald Trump. (Even if people didn’t know that McKay is an outspoken liberal, his political bias is obvious in his movies.) President Orlean is currently distracted because she’s in the middle of a scandal: Her nomination choice to be a U.S Supreme Court Justice is trigger-happy, right-wing Sheriff Conlon (played by Erik Parillo), whose past as a nude model has been exposed.

The scandal gets worse, when it’s revealed in the news that Sheriff Conlon and President Orlean (who is a bachelorette) have been secret lovers, and she sent him photos of her vagina. This is not spoiler information because—much like all the other crude scenarios in “Don’t Look Up”—it has no bearing on the plot. This movie is filled with a bunch of conversations that do nothing to enhance the story but are just in the movie to try to make everything in the film look like it’s “cutting-edge,” when it’s not. “Don’t Look Up” is really just a dumpster of tawdry and witless jokes thrown together in a monotonous cesspool.

Even though Sherrif Conlon is President Orlean’s choice to be a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, he doesn’t have a law degree. Choosing unqualified people for high-ranking government jobs seems to be President Orlean’s speciality. She has appointed her unqualfied and very obnoxious son Jason Orlean (played by Jonah Hill) as the White House’s chief of staff. (Jason’s father is not seen or mentioned in the movie.)

Jason likes to go on egotistical rants and occasionally spews garbage lines that allude to him having incestuous feelings for his mother. Here’s an example of the not-very-funny dialogue in the movie. At one point, Jason smirks about his mother when he says, “I can’t think of another president I’d rather see in Playboy.” He makes other creepy comments to make it clear that he’s sexually attracted to his mother.

Randall estimates that the comet’s destruction of Earth will be like “a billion Hiroshima bombs.” Kate and Randall desperately try to warn anyone who will listen about this impending apocalypse. The movie wastes a lot of time with repeated scenarios of Randall and Kate seeming to be the only people in America who are really sounding the alarm about this apocalypse and sometimes having emotional meltdowns because people won’t take the warnings seriously.

The over-used “joke” in the movie is that most people whom Kate and Randall tell about the apolcalypse either don’t believe them, or if they do believe, they shame Randall and Kate for being too depressing and paranoid. Meanwhile, other people try to use the apocalypse for their own selfish reasons, which usually have to do with wanting more money and power. A military plan to destroy the comet goes awry when certain greedy people discover there are vaulable minerals inside the comet that could make certain people a massive fortune.

The movie’s title comes from a catch phrase used by “apocalypse deniers,” who say, “Don’t Look Up” as their mantra, which they chant whenever and wherever they fell like chanting it. Many of these “apocalypse deniers” gather at rallies that the “Don’t Look Up” filmmakers deliberately made to look a lot like rallies for Donald Trump supporters, including many attendees wearing red baseball caps. In the movie, the “Don’t Look Up” slogan is used by people to identify themselves as not only apocalypse deniers but also advocates of other conservative-leaning political beliefs.

As an example of how poorly written “Don’t Look Up” is, several characters in the movie are useless and just take up space to further stretch out the running time in the movie. In the beginning of “Don’t Look Up,” Kate has a journalist boyfriend named Phillip (played by Himesh Patel), who adds nothing to the overall story. Somehow, the filmmakers of “Don’t Look Up” think it’s hilarious that there’s a scene of Phillip pondering how he’s going to describe in an article that Sheriff Conlon reportedly had an erection when he was doing nude modeling for an art class. “Was he noticeably aroused or engorged?” Phillip asks aloud when trying to decide which words to use in the article.

Randall is married with two adult sons: Marshall Mindy (played by Conor Sweeney) and Evan Mindy (played by Robert Radochia), who appear to be in ther late teens or early 20s. Marshall and Evan still live at home with Randall and his unassuming wife June Mindy (played by Melanie Lynskey), who has to quickly adjust to their lives changing when Randall starts to be believed and he becomes a celebrity “sex symbol” scientist. Randall also gets the nickname of A.I.L.F. (If you know what the slang acronym MILF stands for, just substitute the word “astronomer” for the word “mother” to know the meaning of the acronym A.I.L.F.)

June gets a little bit of a story arc in “Don’t Look Up,” but Marshall and Evan are completely generic. The movie makes no effort to distinguish between Marshall and Evan, in terms of their personalities. All the movie shows is that Randall has two sons who adore and almost worship him. This seemingly blissful family life is supposed to make Randall look like even more of a jerk when he gives in to temptation to cheat on June. (This review won’t reveal who becomes Randall’s mistress, but it’s not the most obvious guess.)

Other caricatures in the movie include Mark Rylance as a billionaire tech mogul named Peter Isherwell, who physically resembles Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook but who talks more like an Elon Musk type who wants to be a spaced-out New Age guru. Peter is a major donor to President Orlean, who kowtows to his every whim. It’s an obvious satire of how corrupt elected politicians will serve their biggest donors rather than serve the people whom the politicians are supposed to represent.

And in a lazily conceived apocalypse movie involving the U.S. government, “Don’t Look Up” has the most stereotypical of apocalypse movie stereotypes: a war-mongering military officer who’s in charge of a military operation to try to stop the apocalypse. His name is Colonel Ben Drask (played by Ron Perlman), who spouts a lot of racist and xenophobic comments. It’s all so the movie can further put an emphasis on showing that President Orlean surrounds herself with a lot of unhinged, extreme right-wingers.

More useless characters include an on-again/off-again music celebrity couple named Riley Bina (played by Ariana Grande) and DJ Chello (played by Scott Mescudi, also known as real-life rapper Kid Cudi), whose relationship drama further clogs up the movie. It seems like the only reason why these shallow lovebird characters are in the movie is to show their concert scenes, where they perform songs that refer to the apocalypse. Oh, and so Grande could do an original song (“Just Look Up,” the anthem of the movie’s apocalypse believers) that the filmmakers obviously wanted to be nominated for an Oscar.

And there’s a silly running “joke” in the movie that a character named General Themes (played by Paul Guilfoyle), who hangs out at the White House, charges people money for snacks and drinks that are supposed to be free at the White House. When Kate finds out that she was conned into paying General Themes for free food and drinks, she gets very snippy and bratty about it, which seems to be her reaction to most things. Kate’s ranting about having to pay for snacks at the White House seems to be the movie’s heavy-handed way of showing that even in an impending apocalypse, when people should be worried about more important things, people will still go out of their way to get angry over petty things.

Two of the more memorable characters in “Don’t Look Up” are slick and superficial TV news co-hosts Brie Evantee (played by Cate Blanchett) and Jack Bremmer (played by Tyler Perry), who would rather talk about the status of the relationship between Riley and DJ Chello than talk about the apocalypse. Blanchett and Perry understood the assignment of being in a dark comedy, because their Brie and Jack characters are the only ones in “Don’t Look Up” who come closest to being characters that viewers can laugh at and laugh with, in these news anchors’ non-stop parade of vanity. Brie gets more screen time than Jack because the movie has a subplot about her personal life.

Brie and Jack host a program called “The Daily Rip” on a 24-hour news network. Kate and Randall are guests on the show multiple times. And each time, Brie and Jack dismiss and disrespect the warnings about the apocalypse. The first time that Kate and Randall are on “The Daily Rip,” Kate has a very angry tantrum and storms off of the show. Kate’s meltdown becomes an unflattering meme. Meanwhile, just because Brie flirts with Randall and flatters him on the show, he suddenly becomes a sex symbol.

Kate’s relationship with Phillip doesn’t last when she becomes the laughingstock of the world, and he writes a tell-all article about her. She ends up working as a cashier at a convenience store called DrinkMo! that sells a lot of liquor (it’s an obvious spoof of the real-life BevMo! liquor store chain), where she meets a disheveled skateboarder named Yule (Timothée Chalamet), who comes into the store with a few friends. Yule is about 10 years younger than Kate, and he immediately flirts with her. You know where this is going, of course.

One of the worst things about “Don’t Look Up” is how predictable it is. And that predictability makes everything move along at a much more tedious pace. In addition to the terrible jokes, “Don’t Look Up” falters with cheap-looking visual effects, and the film editing is often careless and amateurish. “Don’t Look Up” has a lot of talented cast members, who get no cohesive direction in the movie. For example, Lawrence’s acting in the movie is very uneven: Sometimes she plays the comedy in a deapan way, while other times she’s way too over-the-top.

Other cast members try too hard to be funny. There’s a reason why DiCaprio rarely does comedies. Maybe he should stick to the dramas that he does best. Streep obviously used Trump as a template for her performance, so there’s nothing new and surprising about how she plays President Orlean. (And she’s played many bossy characters in other movies.) Rylance lets the shiny white teeth veneers he’s wearing as Peter do a lot of the acting for him.

Most the cast members seem to have been told to act as irritating as possible while in character. Only a few characters (such as Randall’s wife June and sidekick Dr. Oglethorpe) appear to be decent people. Riley and DJ Chello are too vapid to make an impact on the story.

And this is yet another “end of the world” movie where the male actors far outnumber the female actors. It’s not what the real world looks like at all, because females in reality are 51% of the world’s population. The same 51% female statistic applies to the U.S. population.

“Don’t Look Up” makes half-hearted attempts to show sexism, when people overlook Kate and shower attention on “sex symbol” Randall, who gets most of the glory for work that Kate did. But if the filmmakers intended to have any insightful commentary on women overcoming sexism, it’s overshadowed and negated by the movie making any woman in power (namely, President Orlean, NASA chief Dr. Calder and media star Brie Evantee) use sex to get what she wants and act like groupies when they brag about powerful men they had sex with or dated. “Don’t Look Up” does not celebrate female empowerment. The movie degrades female empowerment, by making it look like women have to sleep with men to gain power, with a woman’s worth in the workplace being valued more for sex appeal rather than talent, personality and intelligence.

Dark comedies are supposed to offer acerbic wit in poking fun at society’s problems, but “Don’t Look Up” is only concerned with stringing together a bunch of scenes where people say and do tacky and annoying things. Simply put: “Don’t Look Up” is boring, sloppily made, and nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. For a better-made and much-funnier all-star apocalyptic comedy film with adult jokes, watch 2013’s “This Is the End.”

Netflix will release “Don’t Look Up” in select U.S. cinemas on December 10, 2021, and on Netflix on December 24, 2021.

Review: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead,’ starring Angelina Jolie

May 17, 2021

by Carla Hay

Finn Little and Angelina Jolie in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” (Photo by Emerson Miller/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Those Who Wish Me Dead”

Directed by Taylor Sheridan

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains area and briefly in Florida, the dramatic film “Those Who Wish Me Dead” features a cast of predominantly white characters (with some African Americans) representing the middle-class, working-class and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A daredevil smokejumper unexpectedly finds herself trying to protect a 12-year-old boy who is being targeted by assassins. 

Culture Audience: “Those Who Wish Me Dead” will appeal primarily to people interested in formulaic but suspenseful thrillers.

Aidan Gillen and Nicholas Hoult in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” (Photo by Emerson Miller/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures)

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is a life-or-death chase thriller that brings plenty of predictability, but there’s more than enough suspense and credible acting to make up for some of the far-fetched and formulaic aspects of the film. It’s entertainment that doesn’t demand a lot of intellectual analysis—but that’s a big part of the movie’s appeal. It’s not pretentious and it’s exactly the type of movie that you think it is.

Directed by Taylor Sheridan, “Those Who Wish Me Dead” is based on Michael Koryta’s 2014 novel of the same name. Sheridan, Koryta and Charles Leavitt co-wrote the movie’s screenplay, which doesn’t waste a lot of time before the story’s mayhem starts. The movie isn’t cluttered with too many characters, so viewers will find it easy to understand what’s happening.

In “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” Angelina Jolie depicts a smokejumper named Hannah, who lives and works in Montana’s remote Beartooth Mountains area, in Park County. She’s in a very male-dominated job and doesn’t want to be just like “one of the guys”—she wants to outdo all of the guys. And when they joke around with each other, she’s more than up for their raunchy humor.

The beginning of the movie shows that Hannah is quite the daredevil. She parachutes from the back of a moving truck. And she’s quickly arrested for it by Park County’s sheriff deputy Ethan (played by Jon Bernthal), who happens to be an ex-boyfriend of Hannah’s. Her parachute stunt is a misdemeanor, so Hannah is able to easily bail herself out of jail.

Ethan is happily married to Allison (played by Medina Senghore), who is six months pregnant with their first child. Allison, with Ethan’s help, used to run the Soda Butte Survival School for people who want to learn how to survive in the wilderness. Ethan and Allison are going to need a lot of survival skills later in the movie.

Hannah (who is not married, has no children and lives alone) gives the appearance of being a carefree daredevil. But underneath, she’s in a lot of emotional pain. She’s traumatized by a fire that happened in the previous year. During this fire, she and her co-workers could not save three boys from a fiery death because the fire was too intense.

Hannah still has nightmares of witnessing the children die. And it’s implied that she has post-traumatic stress disorder because of this tragedy. Hannah lives and works in a house-like observation center that’s built on a high tower that allows her to look out for smoke from far-away, elevated places.

Meanwhile, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, two men show up at the front door of the home of a district attorney named Thomas, whose wife Maggie (played by Laura Niemi) answers the door. One man (who’s wearing a business suit) is in his early 50s and identifies himself as working with the fire department. The other man (dressed in a utilties company uniform) is in his 30s and is identified as working with Florida Gas.

The men don’t say their first names, but tell Maggie that they are investigating a computer alert of a gas leak in the house. They ask if her husband is there, and Maggie says yes, but he’s in the shower. And then the two men ask if they can come inside to inspect the house for a possible gas leak. Maggie (who should know better, since she’s married to a district attorney) lets the men in the house.

This is the part of the movie where people who watch a lot of true crime shows might be yelling at the screen, because not only did these men not even say what their names were, they also didn’t show any identification. What people are supposed to do in this situation is not let any strangers in the house and call the gas company to verify that employees were sent to check on a gas leak. It’s also suspicious that someone from the fire department would be there too when there’s no smoke or fire.

Of course, these two men aren’t who they say they are. When they leave the house, they talk about trying to make it on time for their scheduled car trip to Jacksonville, Florida, to do what they need to do next. As they drive away, the district attorney’s house explodes, killing everyone inside.

Who are these two cold-blooded murderers? Their names are Jack (played Aidan Gillen) and his younger subordinate Patrick (played by Nicholas Hoult), who are hired assassins. Jack is the more calculating and more intelligent person in this deadly duo. And their next mission is to kill someone who’s a key witness in a case being prosecuted by the district attorney who was just murdered.

Their target in Jacksonville is a forensic accountant named Owen (played by Jake Weber), a widower who lives with his inquisitive and bright son Connor (played by Finn Little) in a quiet neighborhood. Owen’s wife/Connor’s mother died of cancer three years prior to this story. Owen and Connor are having breakfast in their kitchen when Owen sees a TV news report about the house explosion that killed the district attorney and his family. Owen looks panic-stricken because he seems to know that he could be the next target.

While driving Connor to school, Owen suddenly decides to speed away because he fears that something could happen to Owen if he leaves him at the school. During this tension-filled escape, Owen quickly tells Connor that they are in danger and it’s because Owen found out something in his job that could get “a lot of people, like governors and congressmen” in trouble. “We can only trust the people we know.” Owen adds.

Connor is shocked, but he has no choice but to go with his father when they go on the run. While they stay at a motel, Owen writes down the secrets that are the reasons why Owen is on a hit list. What Owen writes down takes up two pieces of notepad-sized paper, which he then gives to Connor for safekeeping.

Owen tells Connor not to read what’s on the paper. He also cautions Connor by saying that if Owen is no longer able to take care of Connor, then Connor needs to give these secrets to someone who is completely trustworthy. Owen is contemplating going to the media with his secrets and says that Connor should give the secrets to the media if necessary.

In the meantime, Owen plans to hide out in Montana with Ethan, who happens to be the brother of Owen’s late wife. And so, Owen and Connor go on a road trip to Montana. Hiding out with a relative is one of the most obvious things to do, but there’s no telling how well people can think logically when they’re in panic mode.

Not surprisingly, Jack and Patrick show up at Owen’s house, only to find it completely deserted. Jack is able to hack into Owen’s computer and finds out that Owen has recently withdrawn $10,000 from Owen’s bank accounts, indicating that Owen has taken the cash to go into hiding. Jack and Patrick look around the house for clues and see a photo of Owen, Connor, Ethan and Allison, posed right next to a big sign that reads “Soda Butte Survival School.” Guess who’s going to Montana?

Jack and Patrick go to Montana and manage to find Owen and Connor. Owen ends up dead (how he’s killed won’t be revealed in this review), and Connor escapes into the woods, where he eventually meets Hannah and tells her that he’s hiding from assassins. This plot development isn’t spoiler information, because the majority of the movie is about how Connor and Hannah try to elude these killers in the middle of a forest fire.

Yes, it’s not just a chase movie but it’s also a forest fire movie. How the fire started is also shown in the movie. It’s enough to say that the fire didn’t start from the electrical storm that happens during part of the story. Viewers can easily predict, even before it’s shown, who’s responsible for the forest fire.

At first, Connor is very wary of Hannah. He even punches her when she tries to help him after she first sees Connor running by himself in an open field. But eventually, Connor trusts Hannah and tells her what happened to him and his father. And when Connor gives Hannah the paper with Owen’s secrets, Hannah fully understands why Connor is in grave danger.

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” is a taut thriller that keeps things simple, which is both an asset and liability to the film. On the one hand, the plot is very uncomplicated, and that helps the movie, because there are too many thrillers that try to be too complex for their own good. On the other hand, whatever Owen’s secrets are, a vast conspiracy is involved, so it seems a little far-fetched that only two assassins are in this story.

However, the movie has a brief explanation for having only two killers tasked with killing the witnesses and their family members. Jack even gripes about being “understaffed” in certain scenes in the film. He thinks it would have been better if a second group of assassins had been in Jacksonville to kill Owen around the same time that Jack and Patrick set off the bomb that killed the district attorney in Fort Lauderdale. A drive from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville takes nearly five hours. Jack believes that would be enough time for Owen to hear about the district attorney’s murder and flee. And that’s exactly what happened.

Tyler Perry has a brief scene in the movie as a man named Arthur, who meets with Jack and Patrick after Owen is murdered. Arthur isn’t pleased at all that Connor escaped. And when Jack complains that maybe more people should’ve been hired for this assassin assignment, Arthur scolds Jack and Patrick for being incompetent. The movie never explains who Arthur is, so it’s left up to interpretation if he’s one of the corrupt politicians trying to cover up this big scandal or if he’s someone who was hired as a “fixer” or some type of middle man.

One thing is clear: Whoever hired these assassins thought that keeping the number of people hired to a bare minimum would make things less complicated. Less people would need to be paid, and having more people involved poses a greater risk of someone in the group snitching or being careless. In other words, Jack and Patrick have no cronies to back them up when they try to track down Connor to kill him.

“Those Who Wish Me Dead” keeps an adrenaline-like pace throughout the movie. And the movie admirably shows that Hannah isn’t the only hero of the story, because Allison and Ethan have big moments too. However, character development in this movie takes a back seat to the action, since viewers will still know very little about Allison and Ethan by the end of the film.

Where the movie falters most is with the added storyline of the forest fire. There are some scenes where characters are able to outrun avalanche-sized flames or avoid deadly smoke inhalation in very absurd ways. One of the characters also catches on fire but unrealistically is able to walk around just minutes later with no visible bodily injuries except a big facial burn and clothes that look barely singed. In reality, someone who caught on fire that badly wouldn’t be able to move their arms and legs easily because of the severe burns. The person was not wearing a fire-proof outfit either.

The movie’s visual effects are adequate and definitely won’t be nominated for any major awards. What will keep people interested in “Those That Wish Me Dead” are the many suspenseful moments and how the talented cast members are able bring authenticity to characters that aren’t necessarily written to show a lot of depth because they’re fighting for their lives for most of the movie. Jolie and Bernthal have done many other action-oriented films before, so there’s a familiarity to what they do in “Those Who Wish Me Dead” that’s satisfying but not groundbreaking. Sometimes a movie delivers exactly what viewers expect it to deliver—and that’s enough to be entertaining.

New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. Pictures released “Those Who Wish Me Dead” in U.S. cinemas and on HBO Max on May 14, 2021.

2020 E! People’s Choice Awards: BTS is the top winner

November 15, 2020

With four prizes, BTS, including the Group of 2020, was the top winner at the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards, which were presented on November 15 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. BTS also won the awards for the Song of 2020 (“Dynamite”); the Music Video of 2020 (“Dynamite”); and the Album of 2020 (“Map of the Soul: 7”). BTS did not attend the ceremony. E! Entertainment Television had the U.S. telecast of the ceremony, which was hosted b y Demi Lovato.

There were three non-competitive awards that were announced in advance: Tyler Perry received the People’s Champions Award; Tracee Ellis Ross received the Fashion Icon Award; and Jennifer Lopez received the People’s Icon of 2020. Justin Bieber and Chloe x Halle were the show’s performers.

Here is the complete list of nominees and winners at the 2020 E! People’s Choice Awards:

*=winner

MOVIES

THE MOVIE OF 2020

Bad Boys for Life*

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Extraction

Hamilton

Project Power

The Invisible Man

The Old Guard

Trolls World Tour

THE DRAMA MOVIE OF 2020             

Hamilton*

Dangerous Lies

Greyhound

I Still Believe

Invisible Man

The High Note

The Photograph

The Way Back

THE COMEDY MOVIE OF 2020

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Like A Boss

The Kissing Booth 2*

The King of Staten Island

The Lovebirds

The Wrong Missy

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

Bill & Ted Face the Music

THE ACTION MOVIE OF 2020         

Bad Boys for Life

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Bloodshot

Extraction

Mulan*

Power Project

Tenet

The Old Guard

THE FAMILY MOVIE OF 2020

Dolittle

My Spy

Onward*

Scoob!

Sonic the Hedgehog

The Call of the Wild

The Willoughbys

Trolls World Tour

THE MALE MOVIE STAR OF 2020

Chris Hemsworth, Extraction

Jamie Foxx, Project Power

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Mark Wahlberg, Spenser Confidential

Robert Downey Jr., Dolittle

Tom Hanks, Greyhound

Vin Diesel, Bloodshot

Will Smith, Bad Boys for Life*

THE FEMALE MOVIE STAR OF 2020

Camila Mendes, Dangerous Lies

Charlize Theron, The Old Guard

Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man

Issa Rae, The Lovebirds

Margot Robbie, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Salma Hayek, Like a Boss

Tiffany Haddish, Like a Boss*

Vanessa Hudgens, Bad Boys for Life

THE COMEDY MOVIE STAR OF 2020

David Spade, The Wrong Missy

Issa Rae, The Lovebirds

Joey King, The Kissing Booth 2*

Keanu Reeves, Bill & Ted Face the Music

Noah Centineo, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You

Pete Davidson, The King of Staten Island

Salma Hayek, Like a Boss

Will Ferrell, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of FirSaga

THE ACTION MOVIE STAR OF 2020

Charlize Theron, The Old Guard

Chris Hemsworth, Extraction*

Jamie Foxx, Project Power

John David Washington, Tenet

Margot Robbie, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Vanessa Hudgens, Bad Boys for Life

Vin Diesel, Bloodshot

Will Smith, Bad Boys for Life

THE DRAMA MOVIE STAR OF 2020

Ben Affleck, The Way Back

Elisabeth Moss, The Invisible Man

Issa Rae, The Photograph

KJ Apa, I Still Believe

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton*

Russell Crowe, Unhinged

Tom Hanks, Greyhound

Tracee Ellis Ross, The High Note

TV

THE SHOW OF 2020

Grey’s Anatomy*

Never Have I Ever

Outer Banks

The Bachelor 

The Last Dance

The Masked Singer

This Is Us

Tiger King

THE DRAMA SHOW OF 2020

Grey’s Anatomy

Law & Order: SVU

Outer Banks

Ozark

Power

Riverdale*

The Walking Dead

This Is Us

THE COMEDY SHOW OF 2020

Dead To Me

Grown-ish

Insecure

Modern Family

Never Have I Ever*

Saturday Night Live

Schitt’s Creek

The Good Place

THE REALITY SHOW OF 2020

90 Day Fiancé: Happily Ever After?

Below Deck Mediterranean

Keeping Up with the Kardashians*

Love & Hip Hop: New York

Love Is Blind

The Real Housewives of Atlanta

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Queer Eye

THE COMPETITION SHOW OF 2020

American Idol

America’s Got Talent

Top Chef

RuPaul’s Drag Race

The Bachelor

The Challenge: Total Madness

The Masked Singer

The Voice*

THE MALE TV STAR OF 2020

Chase Stokes, Outer Banks

Cole Sprouse, Riverdale*

Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Jason Bateman, Ozark

Jesse Williams, Grey’s Anatomy

Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Steve Carell, Space Force

THE FEMALE TV STAR OF 2020

Christina Applegate, Dead To Me

Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead

Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy*

Lili Reinhart, Riverdale

Mandy Moore, This Is Us

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Sofía Vergara, Modern Family

THE DRAMA TV STAR OF 2020

Cole Sprouse, Riverdale

Chase Stokes, Outer Banks

Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead

Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy

Mandy Moore, This Is Us*

Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU

Sandra Oh, Killing Eve

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

THE COMEDY TV STAR OF 2020

Christina Applegate, Dead To Me

Dan Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Issa Rae, Insecure

Jameela Jamil, The Good Place

Kate McKinnon, SNL

Kristen Bell, The Good Place

Sofía Vergara, Modern Family*

Yara Shahidi, Grown-ish

THE DAYTIME TALK SHOW OF 2020

Good Morning America

Live With Kelly & Ryan

Red Table Talk

The Ellen DeGeneres Show*

The Kelly Clarkson Show

The View

The Wendy Williams Show

Today

THE NIGHTTIME TALK SHOW OF 2020

Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

The Late Late Show with James Corden

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon*

THE COMPETITION CONTESTANT OF 2020

Gigi Goode, RuPaul’s Drag Race*

Hannah Ann Sluss, The Bachelor

Jaida Essence Hall, RuPaul’s Drag Race

Just Sam, American Idol

Madison Prewett, The Bachelor

Kandi Burruss, The Masked Singer

Rob Gronkowski , The Masked Singer

Sammie Cimarelli, The Circle

THE REALITY STAR OF 2020

Antoni Porowski, Queer Eye

Darcey and Stacey Silva, Darcey & Stacey

Jonathan Van Ness, Queer Eye

Kandi Burruss, The Real Housewives of Atlanta

Kim Kardashian West, Keeping Up with the Kardashians

Khloe Kardashian, Keeping Up with the Kardashians*

Lisa Rinna, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Porsha Williams, The Real Housewives of Atlanta

THE BINGEWORTHY SHOW OF 2020

Cheer

Love Is Blind

Never Have I Ever

Normal People

Outer Banks*

Ozark

Schitt’s Creek

Tiger King

THE SCI-FI/FANTASY SHOW OF 2020

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Legacies

Locke & Key

Supergirl

Supernatural

Wynonna Earp*

The Flash

The Umbrella Academy 

MUSIC

THE MALE ARTIST OF 2020

Bad Bunny

Blake Shelton

DaBaby

Drake

J Balvin

Justin Bieber*

Lil Baby

The Weeknd

THE FEMALE ARTIST OF 2020

Ariana Grande*

Billie Eilish

Cardi B

Dua Lipa

Lady Gaga

Megan Thee Stallion

Miley Cyrus

Taylor Swift

THE GROUP OF 2020

5 Seconds of Summer

BLACKPINK

BTS*

Chloe X Halle

CNCO

Dan + Shay

Jonas Brothers

twenty one pilots

THE SONG OF 2020

“Break My Heart,” Dua Lipa

“Dynamite,” BTS*

“Intentions,” Justin Bieber

“Rain On Me,” Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

“Savage,” Megan Thee Stallion

“Stuck With U,” Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber

“WAP,” Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion

THE ALBUM OF 2020

After Hours, The Weeknd

High Off Life, Future

Changes, Justin Bieber

Chromatica, Lady Gaga

Future Nostalgia, Dua Lipa

Folklore, Taylor Swift

Map of the Soul: 7, BTS*

YHLQMDLG, Bad Bunny 

THE COUNTRY ARTIST OF 2020

Blake Shelton*

Kane Brown

Keith Urban

Kelsea Ballerini

Luke Bryan

Luke Combs

Miranda Lambert

Thomas Rhett

THE LATIN ARTIST OF 2020

Bad Bunny

Becky G*

Daddy Yankee

J Balvin

Maluma

Nicky Jam

Karol G

Ozuna

THE NEW ARTIST OF 2020

Ava Max

BENEE

Conan Gray

Doja Cat*

Jack Harlow

Roddy Ricch

Saweetie

Trevor Daniel

THE MUSIC VIDEO OF 2020

“Blinding Lights,” The Weeknd

“Dynamite,” BTS*

“Holy,” Justin Bieber & Chance the Rapper

“Ice Cream,” BLACKPINK & Selena Gomez

“Life Is Good,” Future featuring Drake

“Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

“UN DIA,” J. Balvin, Dua Lip, Bad Bunny & Tainy

“WAP,” Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion

THE COLLABORATION OF 2020                    

“Be Kind,” Marshmello & Halsey

“Holy,” Justin Bieber featuring Chance the Rapper

“Life Is Good,” Future featuring Drake

“Rain on Me,” Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande

“Rockstar,” DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch

“Savage Remix,” Megan Thee Stallion featuring Beyoncé

“WAP,” Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion*

“Whats Poppin Remix,” Jack Harlow featuring DaBaby, Tory Lanez & Lil Wayne

THE SOUNDTRACK SONG OF 2020

“About Love,” Marina, To All The Boys: P.S. I Love You

“Alexander Hamilton,” Leslie Odom Jr., Hamilton

“Boss Bitch,” Doja Cat, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

“Loyal Brave True,” Christina Aguilera, Mulan

“On Me (featuring Ava Max),” Thomas Rhett, Scoob!

“Only the Young,” Taylor Swift,  Miss Americana*

“Rare,” Selena Gomez, Normal People

“The Other Side,” SZA x Justin Timberlake, Trolls World Tour

POP CULTURE

THE SOCIAL STAR OF 2020

Addison Rae

Charli D’ Amelio

David Dobrik

Dixie D’Amelio

Emma Chamberlain*

Loren Gray

Jojo Siwa

Liza Koshy

THE BEAUTY INFLUENCER OF 2020

Antonio Garza

Bretman Rock

Desi Perkins

Jackie Aina

James Charles*

Nikita Dragun

NIKKIETUTORIALS

RCL Beauty

THE SOCIAL CELEBRITY OF 2020

Ariana Grande*

Britney Spears

Justin Bieber

Kim Kardashian West

Kylie Jenner

Lady Gaga

LeBron James

Selena Gomez

THE ANIMAL STAR OF 2020

Doug the Pug*

Esther the Wonder Pig

Hosico 

Jiffpom

Juniper the Fox

Nala Cat

Shinjiro Ono

Suki Cat

THE COMEDY ACT OF 2020

8:46, Dave Chappelle

George Lopez: We’ll Do It for Half

Hannah Gadsby: Douglas

Jerry Seinfeld: 23 Hours to Kill

Jo Koy: In His Elements

Leslie Jones: Time Machine*

Pete Davidson: Alive From New York

The Pale Tourist, Jim Gaffigan

THE STYLE STAR OF 2020

Janelle Monáe

Kendall Jenner

Kim Kardashian West

Lady Gaga

Lil Nas X

Rihanna

Timothee Chalamet

Zendaya*

THE GAME CHANGER OF 2020

Bubba Wallace

LeBron James*

Michael Jordan

Naomi Osaka

Russell Wilson

Sabrina Ionescu

Serena Williams

Simone Biles

THE POP PODCAST OF 2020

Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain*

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard 

Call Her Daddy

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

I Weigh with Jameela Jamil

Scrubbing In with Becca Tilley & Tanya Rad

Staying In with Emily & Kumail

The Viall Files

Review: ‘A Fall From Grace,’ starring Crystal Fox, Phylicia Rashad, Bresha Webb, Mehcad Brooks and Cicely Tyson

January 17, 2020

by Carla Hay

Donovan Christie Jr., Tyler Perry, Bresha Webb and Crystal Fox in "A Fall From Grace"
Donovan Christie Jr., Tyler Perry, Bresha Webb and Crystal Fox in “A Fall From Grace” (Photo by Charles Bergmann/Netflix)

“A Fall From Grace”

Directed by Tyler Perry

Culture Representation: Set in the fictional American city of Holloway, “A Fall From Grace” has predominantly black middle-class characters who are connected in some way to a murder mystery case.

Culture Clash: The characters have conflicts over the guilt or innocence of a woman accused of murder.

Culture Audience: “A Fall From Grace” will appeal primarily to fans of Tyler Perry and low-budget, melodramatic “women in peril” movies.

Crystal Fox and Mehcad Brooks in “A Fall From Grace” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

If you’re watching a Tyler Perry drama, here are three things you can expect to happen:

(1) A husband or boyfriend will cheat on his wife or girlfriend.
(2) The woman will find out about the infidelity.
(3) She not only gets mad, she also gets even.

The legal mystery “A Fall From Grace” (written and directed by Perry) falls right in line with this formula, with plenty of melodramatic and implausible moments, as well as a few touches of humor. (“A Fall From Grace” is definitely for mature audiences, since there’s partial nudity, adult language and very bloody violence.) Perry’s dramas overall are much more interesting than his comedies, but there’s such a similarity to the narratives of Perry’s dramas that they’re very much like passing by a car wreck: You know what you’re probably going to see is messy and tragic, but sometimes you’re compelled to take a look anyway.

To his credit, Perry gives a lot of work to black actors and actresses, since his movies and TV shows have predominantly black casts. It’s just too bad that he can’t come up with more original scripts that don’t have the same, tired concept that the central character (who’s usually an African American woman) is stressed-out and unhappy because of a man. She’s either dealing with a lying cheater, or she’s having problems finding a good man who won’t cheat on her, because she was treated badly by a cheater in her previous relationship.

In “A Fall From Grace,” the troubled woman is Grace Waters (played by Crystal Fox), a mid-level bank employee in her 50s who’s confessed to bludgeoning to death her much-younger second husband, Shannon DeLong (played by Mehcad Brooks), who was married to Grace for less than a year. The crime is shocking to people who know Grace, because she has a mild-mannered and passive personality. Grace’s 26-year-old attorney is public defender Jasmine Bryant (played by Bresha Webb), who’s reluctant to take the case because she’s eager to have her first experience going to trial. Her demanding boss Roy (played by Perry) thinks a trial isn’t necessary, since Grace has confessed to first-degree murder and wants to plead guilty.

As Roy explains to Jasmine, he put her on the case because Jasmine is an excellent negotiator of plea bargains, and he’s training her to do what public defenders usually do: make plea deals for almost all of their clients. But there’s another reason why Jasmine doesn’t want to take the case: As she privately tells her loyal and supportive husband, Jordan (played by Matthew Law), who’s a police officer for the city, she’s become disillusioned by representing so many people she thinks are guilty. Jasmine is seriously thinking about leaving her budding law career to start over in a new profession, but Jordan encourages her not to give up so easily.

Because Grace’s case is very high-profile in the local news, Jasmine is also feeling the pressure of getting the right deal for Grace. The maximum penalty for pleading guilty will be life without parole, but Jasmine is hoping that Grace (who has no previous arrest record) will get a plea bargain of 15 years with the possibility of parole. If Grace goes to trial, she risks getting the death penalty if she’s found guilty. Jasmine meets with a disheveled and dejected Grace in jail, and something about their meeting seems “off” to Jasmine—Grace’s only request for the deal is that she’s sent to a prison that’s near where her grandchildren live. Jasmine begins to wonder if Grace is really not guilty and possibly covering up for someone else.

Jasmine’s doubt about Grace’s guilt grows even more when she looks at the crime-scene photos, and sees that the blood patterns don’t match the patterns of someone who’s supposedly lost blood from a blow to the head. She shows the evidence to Roy, who orders her to make a plea deal and not bring the case to trial. Jasmine decides to investigate further anyway, knowing that she could end up getting fired for insubordination.

Jasmine finds herself meeting with one of Grace’s close friends named Sarah (played by Phylicia Rashad), who runs a boarding house for retired women. (Cicely Tyson has a cameo as one of the residents. She’s literally in the movie for less than 10 minutes.) Sarah tells Jasmine that she’s been friends with Grace for about six years.

In a flashback, viewers see Sarah and Grace talking after attending the wedding of Grace’s ex-husband, who left her for his much-younger secretary, whom he ended up marrying. Grace and her ex-husband (who have a married adult son together) had a divorce where Grace was willing to give up their house to him because she wanted to avoid any nasty legal battles. Grace has convinced herself that she’ll never fall in love again, but Sarah encourages her to get out of the house more and start dating again. Sarah suggests that Grace meet new people by going to an upcoming gallery event that will be the opening of a new photo exhibit.

While Grace is at the gallery exhibit, which features Ethiopian tribe photos taken by Shannon DeLong, she is approached by a hunky man who’s about 20 years younger than Grace. He strikes up a conversation with Grace and asks her what she thinks of the photos. Grace says that she’s very impressed with the photos.

She also tells the man that she thinks Shannon is probably an African woman, because the people in the photos look like they trusted the photographer. While they’re talking and as the man openly flirts with her, the gallery owner makes a speech to introduce Shannon DeLong. And lo and behold, to Grace’s surprise (but not to anyone else watching this who could easily guess who this mystery man is), the charming man whom she was talking to is none other than Shannon DeLong.

The next day, Shannon sends Grace some roses and one of his photos. Grace is curious and a little taken aback at his attempts to romance her because she doesn’t think she’s attractive enough for a man as good-looking and young as Shannon is. At first, she plays hard to get, but she eventually agrees to go out on a date with him.

While on the date, she asks him point-blank: “Why me?” Shannon replies, “Shouldn’t the question be, ‘Why not you?'” They end up having a whirlwind, chaste romance (Grace is religious and won’t sleep with him as long as they’re not married) that leads to Shannon proposing, and then they get married.

But how well does Grace really know her new husband? He starts to show a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality that can flip on a moment’s notice. When Grace overhears him talking on the phone to someone she doesn’t know, and she asks him who he’s talking to, he sneers at her in a menacing tone: “Grace, there are two things I don’t like: (1) being checked up on and (2) being questioned.” Grace finds out the hard way how much of a mistake it was to marry Shannon.

Grace catches him in their bedroom having sex with another woman. Grace also gets fired for embezzlement, and she finds out that Shannon committed the crime by stealing her identity. (This isn’t spoiler information, since it’s in the movie’s trailer.)

When they’re alone together, Shannon openly mocks Grace because he’s sure he can get away with what he did. Things get very ugly and bloody, with Grace whacking him repeatedly with a baseball bat, like someone fighting zombies in “The Walking Dead,” and it’s all resulted in Grace facing prison time for Shannon’s murder.

But wait. This wouldn’t be a Tyler Perry movie without something ludicrous about the plot. It turns out that Shannon’s body was never found. (This detail is also revealed in the movie’s trailer.) Presumably, the district attorney felt there was enough blood evidence to suggest that Shannon is dead, but even that’s a stretch of the imagination.

In real life, prosecution of a murder case, even with a confession, rarely happens without a body (or vital body parts, such as a skull or torso), in order for a medical examiner to determine the cause of death. In the rare instances when someone is charged with murder without a body being found, several years have passed after the allegedly murdered person has been declared missing. Perry is assuming that most people watching this movie won’t know all of that, because the point of having a missing body in this murder mystery is to make viewers wonder if Shannon is really dead.

But that opens up a whole other set of questions: Why did Grace confess in the first place if there was no body found? If Shannon isn’t dead, shouldn’t Grace still be in trouble for attempted murder? And who got rid of the body if he’s dead? Viewers won’t necessarily get the answers to these questions during the course of the movie, as Grace changes her mind about pleading guilty, and the case goes to trial.

The courtroom scenes are predictably over-the-top, but at least they’re more realistic than the bumbling cop scenes with Jasmine’s husband Jordan. In one scene, Jordan is handcuffing someone in an arrest on the street, and then when Jordan suddenly gets important information about Grace’s case, he drives off and leaves the suspect (still handcuffed) out on the street. Would it have been so hard to put the suspect in the back of the squad car instead of leaving him out on the street so he could run away? And in another scene that happens in the beginning of the movie, Jordan unsuccessfully tries to prevent a suicidal elderly woman from jumping off the roof of her house. Apparently, this city must be seriously lacking in police officers, since Jordan doesn’t have any other cop to back him up in this emergency scene.

The suicide scene at the beginning of the movie is explained at the end of the movie, which has a twist that’s kind of crazy. But people should know by now that Perry loves to churn out these soapy, pulpy dramas where people can soak up his brand of cheap thrills. Dive right on in, if that’s your thing.

Netflix premiered “A Fall From Grace” on January 17, 2020.

BET announces launch date, programming for streaming service BET+

September 9, 2019

Michelle Buteau, Jill Scott and Ryan Michelle Bathe of “First Wives Club” (Photo courtesy of BET)

The following is a press release from BET and Tyler Perry Studios:

BET Networks, a unit of  Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), and Tyler Perry Studios announced that, BET+, their joint venture and premier subscription video-on demand service, will launch in the U.S. on Thursday, September 19.  For $9.99 per month, BET+ will feature more than 1,000 hours of premium content, including exclusive new original programming and fan-favorite series, movies, and specials from BET Networks, as well as a host of leading African American content creators, including Tyler Perry, Tracy Oliver, Will Packer and more.

“We are thrilled to offer a streaming experience of content curated for the underserved African American audience with BET+. African Americans have a higher SVOD adoption rate than any other consumer base on the market, which is why BET+ is a natural complement of BET’s linear network, which has been and continues to be the leading home of black culture for decades,” said Scott Mills, President of BET Networks.

“In our first year, we will release a BET+ original project almost every month, adding to our lineup of deep and diverse content,” said Devin Griffin, General Manager BET+. “We’re focused on super-serving lovers of Black stories by working with top talent, and supporting fresh new voices, on both sides of the camera.”

BET+ will offer consumers an original and diverse collection of premier African American-focused dramas, sitcoms, film, stand-up comedy, and specials in the streaming universe. Itwill also be the official home of Tyler Perry’s collected works across film, television, and the stage. BET+ programming will be ad-free, with new titles added on a monthly basis.

BET+ will launch withseveral FIRSTS including:

  • First time Jill Scott will star and Tracy Oliver will executive produce a new series for BET+ with “First Wives Club.”
  • First time Will Packer will executive produce a new series for BET + with “Bigger.”
  • First time original series from Tyler Perry to premiere on a streaming service.
  • First time the beloved comedy series “Martin” will be available on a streaming a service.
  • First time the iconic BET comedy series, “Comic View” will be available on a streaming service.
  • First time Tyler Perry’s stage plays will be available to viewers on a streaming service.

The stars of “Bigger” (Photo courtesy of BET)

Premiering at launch, BET+ will feature new exclusive original series “First Wives Club” – a nine-episode scripted drama from acclaimed “Girls Trip” screenwriter Tracy Oliver – and “Bigger”– a ten-episode series from Will Packer, blockbuster hit-maker of titles such as “Ride Along” and “Think Like a Man.”

  • “First Wives Club,” the modern television remake of the classic 1996 revenge comedy starring Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton, now stars an all-star African American cast including Jill Scott, Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau. After neglecting their friendship, best friends Ari (Ryan Michelle Bathe), Hazel (Jill Scott) and Bree (Michelle Buteau) reunite to help each other through rough patches in their lives. Together, they navigate music superstar Hazel’s tabloid-ridden divorce, campaign manager Ari’s unsatisfying marriage and orthopedic surgeon Bree’s cheating husband.  Along the way, the women learn that as long as they have each other, there’s nothing they can’t do. All episodes will be made available at launch.
  • “BIGGER,” a half hour scripted comedy starring Tanisha Long, Angell Conwell, Rasheda Crockett, Chase Anthony, and Tristen Winger, takes place in the East Atlanta neighborhood, Little Five Points. The series follows a single-black-woman who is dealing with the threat of marriage to a boring-in-bed boyfriend and the sudden, random death of a college acquaintance. The tragedy drives her ambitious group of friends to take a deeper look at their stagnant lives, asking themselves— is there something bigger and better in life. The first three episodes of the series will be made available at launch with additional new episodes rolling out on a weekly basis.

In addition to its new original content, BET+ will stream the beloved comedy series “Martin.”

BET+ will house Tyler Perry’s box office-topping theatrical films, including films from the “Madea” series; original series and a selection of Perry’s stage plays: “Meet the Browns,” “Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor,” and more.

BET+ will offer a premium selection of African American TV, movie and musical content including BET’s beloved library series, films, documentaries, and specials such as “The Bobby Brown Story,” “The New Edition Story,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “The Quad,” “Being Mary Jane,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, ” “College Hill,” “Comic View,” “Hell Date,” “Keyshia Cole: All In,” “Nellyville” “Reed Between The Lines,” “Ali: People’s Champ,” “Katrina: 10 Years Later,” “Killer Curves,”“BET Awards,” “Hip Hop Awards,” “Soul Train Awards,” “Black Girls Rock,”“Boomerang,” “Harlem Nights,” “Baby Boy,” “Belly,” “Coach Carter,” “Coming To America,” “Higher Learning,” “Losing Isaiah,”  “Poetic Justice,” “Tina Turner Live In Holland,” and more will be available at launch.

In the coming months, BET+ will also feature stand-up comedy specials from D.L. Hughley, Eddie Griffin, Nick Cannon, Sasheer Zamata (Saturday Night Live), Lil Rel (Get Out), Gina Yashere (The Daily Show), Sinbad and more.

Library series from Viacom’s Portfolio of BET sister networks, including VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” “Basketball Wives,” “T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle,” Comedy Central’s “Why? With Hannibal Buress”, MTV’s            “Todrick,” TV Land’s “Soul Man,” Nick @ Night’s “Instant Mom,” and more will also join the service.

BET+ will be available at launch on mobile and connected TV devices with a dedicated web experience coming later this year.

BET will continue to feature new originals and loved series, including the Tyler Perry original series, “The Oval,” and “Sistas” premiering Wednesday, October 9 on BET. BET fans will have additional access points to BET content on BET.com and the BET Now app for TV Everywhere users.  In addition, BET’s recently launched channel on Pluto TV, the leading free streaming television service in the U.S., will continue to feature hundreds of hours of classic films and box office hits from the best of black Hollywood.

For BET+ updates, exclusive social content and more follow the official hashtag #BETplus.

2019 BET Awards: Tyler Perry, Mary J. Blige to receive special prizes

June 12, 2019

The following is a press release from BET:

BET announces Tyler Perry will be honored with the Ultimate Icon Award, and Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, Oscar-nominated actress and philanthropist Mary J. Blige will be honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th annual “BET Awards.” The entertainment powerhouse and business mogul will be presented with the Ultimate Icon Award for his continued cultural impact in entertainment. The 2019 “BET Awards” will air LIVE on Sunday, June 23 at 8pm ET from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CA on BET.

Tyler Perry, the now world-renowned producer, director, actor, screenwriter, playwright, and author, built his entertainment empire up from meager beginnings. Inspired by a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey, Perry began his career by simply putting his thoughts and life experiences to paper, creating the foundation of his acclaimed catalog of plays, films, television series, and award-winning novels. Taking his iconic character Madea from stage to screen, Perry introduced the world to a “God-fearing, gun-toting, loud-mouthed grandmother”, in 2005’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” He’s since gone on to create numerous successful feature films and scripted series like “House of Payne” and “The Haves and The Have Nots” that bring messages of spiritual hope and down-home humor into homes across the country.

In the fall of 2006, Perry opened a 200,000 square foot studio in Atlanta which during its operation, was home to over 15 films and 800 episodes of Perry’s five television series. In 2015, Tyler Perry expanded and opened a state-of-the-art film and television studio on the historic grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base.  The new 330-acre campus is one of the largest production studios in the country boasting 40 buildings on the national register of historic places, 11 purpose-build sound stages, 200 acres of green space and an expansive backlot.  His unique brand of inspirational entertainment has authentically spoken to and impacted black culture and helped shape the future of black entertainment.

With a career of landmark achievements including eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and a SAG nomination, Mary J. Blige has remained a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making her one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era and cemented herself as a global superstar. And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums. She began moving people with her soulful voice at the age of 18 when she became Uptown Records youngest and first female artist. Over the years, Blige has helped redefine R&B in the contemporary music era with chart-topping hits like “Be Without You”, “No More Drama” and “Family Affair.” At the 2018 Academy Awards, Blige made history as the first double nominee across the acting and music categories for Best Song and Best Supporting Actress for her work on Mudbound.

As previously announced, the first group of performers for the 19th annual “BET Awards” include Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Migos, H.E.R., Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, Mustard, Lil Baby, Yung Miami of City Girls, Lucky Daye and Kiana Ledé. Additionally, Taraji P. Henson, Lena Waithe, Morris Chestnut, Yara Shahidi, and Marsai Martin were also announced as presenters.

The 2019 “BET AWARDS” will simulcast LIVE at 8pm ET across seven Viacom networks in the U.S. including BET, BET HER, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Classic, VH1, and Logo. Internationally, the show will simulcast for the first time on BET Africa at 2am CAT on June 24, followed by international broadcasts in the UK on June 24 at 9pm BST, South Korea on June 25 at 9pm KST and in France on June 25 at 9pm CEST.  Internationally, BET will honor Best International Act in-show, along with the fan-voted category Best New International Act and BET International Global Good Award during the live red carpet pre-show.

Connie Orlando, Executive Vice-President, Head of Programming at BET will serve as Executive Producer for the “BET Awards” 2019 along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment.

BET.com/betawards is the official site for the “BET Awards” and will have all the latest news and updates about this year’s show.

ABOUT BET NETWORKS

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news, and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

ABOUT “BET AWARDS”

The “BET Awards” is one of the most watched awards shows on cable television according to the Nielsen Company. The “BET Awards” franchise remains as the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is BET’s #1 telecast every year. It recognizes the triumphs and successes of artists, entertainers, and athletes in a variety of categories.

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT

Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company founded by entertainment industry veteran Jesse Collins. For more than a decade, Collins has played an integral role in producing some of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. Collins has produced groundbreaking and award-winning television programming, including “BET Awards,” “Grammy Awards,” “Soul Train Music Awards,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF An Evening of Stars,” “ABFF Awards” and “BET Hip Hop Awards.” Collins was an executive producer of the hit TV series “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” starring Kevin Hart, and the critically acclaimed “The New Edition Story,” a biopic on the boy band that aired as a three-part miniseries on BET in January 2017. He is also the executive producer of VH1 shows “Dear Mama” and “Hip Hop Squares” with Ice Cube. Most recently, JCE executive-produced “The Bobby Brown Story.” The miniseries picked up where “The New Edition Story” miniseries left off and chronicled the talented but troubled singer’s exit from the popular 80s boy band through his solo success. It debuted on BET in September 2018 and was the highest-rated non-tentpole program on the network since “The New Edition Story.” Next for JCE is the second season of “American Soul” on BET and Netflix’s upcoming series “Rhythm and Flow.”

 

2019 Academy Awards: performers and presenters announced

February 11, 2019

by Carla Hay

Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga
Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga at the 76th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 6, 2019. (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced several entertainers who will be performers and presenters at the 91st Annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. ABC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, which will not have a host. As previously reported, comedian/actor Kevin Hart was going to host the show, but he backed out after the show’s producers demanded that he make a public apology for homophobic remarks that he made several years ago. After getting a  firestorm of backlash for the homophobic remarks, Hart later made several public apologies but remained adamant that he would still not host the Oscars this year.

The celebrities who will be on stage at the Oscars this year are several of those whose songs are nominated for Best Original Song. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will perform their duet “Shallow” from their movie remake of “A Star Is Born.” Jennifer Hudson will perform “I’ll Fight” from the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG.” David Rawlings and Gillian Welch will team up for the duet “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” from the Western film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” It has not yet been announced who will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” from the Disney musical sequel “Mary Poppins Returns.”** It also hasn’t been announced yet if Kendrick Lamar and SZA will take the stage for “All the Stars” from the superhero flick “Black Panther.”

Gustavo Dudamel and the L.A. Philharmonic do the music for the “In Memoriam” segment, which spotlights notable people in the film industry who have died in the year since the previous Oscar ceremony.

Meanwhile, the following celebrities have been announced as presenters at the ceremony: Whoopi Goldberg (who has hosted the Oscars twice in the past), Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Tessa Thompson Constance Wu, Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson. Goldberg and Bardem are previous Oscar winners.

Other previous Oscar winners taking the stage will be Gary Oldman, Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell and Allison Janney, who won the actor and actress prizes at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Donna Gigliotti (who won an Oscar for Best Picture for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love) and Emmy-winning director Glenn Weiss are the producers of the 2019 Academy Awards. This will be the first time that Gigliotti is producing the Oscar ceremony. Weiss has directed several major award shows, including the Oscars and the Tonys. He will direct the Oscar ceremony again in 2019.

**February 18, 2019 UPDATE: Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Los Things Go,” the Oscar-nominated song from “Mary Poppins Returns.” British rock band Queen, whose official biopic is the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody,” will also perform on the show with lead singer Adam Lambert. It has not been revealed which song(s) Queen will perform at the Oscars.

February 19, 2019 UPDATE: These presenters have been added to the Oscar telecast: Elsie Fisher, Danai Gurira, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Keaton, Helen Mirren, John Mulaney, Tyler Perry, Pharrell Williams, Krysten Ritter, Paul Rudd and Michelle Yeoh.

February 21, 2019 UPDATE: These celebrities will present the Best Picture nominees: José Andrés, Dana Carvey, Queen Latifah, Congressman John Lewis, Diego Luna, Tom Morello, Mike Myers, Trevor Noah, Amandla Stenberg, Barbra Streisand and Serena Williams.

Hollywood Walk of Fame announces 2019 star recipients

May 25, 2018

The following is a press release from the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

A new group of entertainment professionals in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre/Live Performance and Recording have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced today, June 25, 2018 by the Walk of Fame Selection Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. These honorees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations to the committee at a meeting held in June and ratified by the Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors. Television Producer and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona, Chair of the Walk of Fame Selection Committee for 2018-2019 and Walk of Famer Ellen K, host of The Ellen K Morning Show, announced the new honorees with Leron Gubler, President & CEO for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who is also the emcee of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.The new selection was revealed to the world via live stream exclusively on the official website www.walkoffame.com. The live stream began at 1 P.M. and was held at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offices.

“The Walk of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce our newest honorees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Committee always tries to select a group of talented honorees that appeal in various genres of the entertainment world,” Chairman and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona,  “I feel the Committee has outdone themselves and I know the fans, tourists and the Hollywood community will be pleased with our selections. We are excited to see each and every honoree’s face as they unveil that majestic star on Hollywood’s most famous walkway!”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2019 are:

In the category of MOTION PICTURES:
Alan Arkin, Kristen Bell, Daniel Craig, Robert De Niro, Guillermo del Toro, Anne Hathaway, Lupita Nyong’o, Tyler Perry, and Gena Rowlands.

In the category of TELEVISION:
Alvin And The Chipmunks, Candice Bergen, Guy Fieri, Terrence Howard, Stacy Keach, Sid and Marty Krofft, Lucy Liu, Mandy Moore,  Dianne Wiest, and Julia Child (Posthumous).

In the category of RECORDING:
Michael Bublé, Cypress Hill, The Lettermen, Faith Hill, Tommy Mottola, P!nk, Teddy Riley, Trio: Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, and Jackie Wilson (Posthumous).

In the category of LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE:
Idina Menzel, Cedric “The Entertainer”, Judith Light, and Paul Sorvino.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its Walk of Fame Selection Committee congratulate all the honorees. Dates have not been scheduled for these star ceremonies. Recipients have two years to schedule star ceremonies from the date of selection before they expire. Upcoming star ceremonies are usually announced ten days prior to dedication on the official website www.walkoffame.com.

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