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COMING | Steve Whitney To Produce Suge Knight Biopic… Deal struck with incarcerated mogul.

A biopic documenting the life of Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight is currently in the works after the incarcerated mogul struck an agreement with producer Steve Whitney and TSW films to sign over his life rights.

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It was reported today by Dateline that Producer Steve Whitney and his company TSW Films have consummated a deal and purchased Suge Knight’s life rights with plans to develop a biopic on the infamous music mogul, Whitney is reportedly bringing Nick Cassavetes and Andrew Thorne into the project to write the script.

Suge Knight, The former music exec born Marion Hugh “Suge” Knight Jr. co-founded the iconic label Death Row Records in 1991 and is credited with bringing the subgenre of gangsta rap from the underground into the mainstream after NWA’s second album, ‘Efil4zaggin’, broke ground as the first gangsta rap album to reach no.#1 on Billboard pop charts in 1991. Actually the steady drive and impact of Death Row over time actually made gangsta rap the mainstream over all other rap and hip hop.

When Death Row released Dr. Dre’s “The Cronic, Lp” in December of 1992, it ushered in a paradigm change already in motion that largely smothered much of black radio as we knew it and killed off much of the other forms of hip hop making gangsta rap, and specifically, West Coast G-Funk, the predominant genre that dominated the rap charts.

Beginning with the success of The Chronic, and followed by Snoop Dogg’s ’93 release Doggystyle, Lp which debuted at No.#1 on Billboard selling 800,000 copies in it’s first week before going on to quadruple-platinum, then followed by the release of Tupac Shakurs’ All Eyez On Me, Lp in February of 1996, we then saw the mainstreaming of hard-core rap acts begin dominating the airwaves and record charts, acts like the Geto Boys, DMX, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan among others.

Knight’s Death Row label had created a monster wave and was riding it, other G-Funk artists enjoying the swell created by Death Row were MC Eiht, Spice 1, MC Ren, and Ice Cube among others, though none of those named artists were signed to Knights label.

When Suge Knight, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur adorned the cover of Vibe Magazine in February 1996 coinciding with the release of Tupac’s debut ‘All Eyez On me‘ album, they became the face of hip hop.

Knight’s label had enormous success with over 50 artists and profits of over $100 million a year, but fell into bankruptcy after the departure of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog, the murder of Tupac and the 2018 incarceration of Knight on charges of voluntary manslaughter.

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Knight is currently incarcerated at San Diego’s RJ Donovan Correctional Facility after crashing his car into Heayweight Records co-founder Terry Carter and filmmaker Cle Sloan in 2015—killing Carter and severely injuring Sloan. While he pleaded no contest to the charges against him, he will not be eligible for parole until July 2037.  

Knight’s notoriety has seen him be portrayed over the years in numerous films, including Too Legit: The MC Hammer StoryNotoriousStraight Outta Compton, Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le and All Eyez on Me, along with the USA Network series Unsolved. He also was at the center of the 2018 Showtime documentary American Dream/American Knightmare, directed by Antoine Fuqua.

“During the golden era of rap and hip hop, all roads led through Suge Knight,” said Whitney. “That era helped define a new brand of music and culture that changed the world.”

Knight, regarding the deal was quoted in part saying… “I jumped off the porch in my neighborhood at a young age but never forgot where I came from. Most people try to ride for the hills, I made it and tried to bring as many people to the hills with me and feel that I was successful at it.”

Whitney has focused thus far in his career on bringing true life stories to the screen—including One Chance, a film about Britain’ s Got Talent winner Paul Potts, starring James Corden, which he exec produced with Simon Cowell. Additional credits include The Haunting in Connecticut with Virginia Madsen and the remake of The Amityville Horror with Ryan Reynolds.

Cassavetes is an actor, writer, director and producer who recently wrapped production on God Is a Bullet—a crime drama he wrote and directed, starring Jamie Foxx. His past credits include The NotebookJohn Q and Blow. Thorne is a writer and producer whose credits include Tragedy Girls and After Exile.

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Kevin Hart and Chris Rock To Co-Headline ‘Rock Hart: Only Headliners Allowed Comedy Mini-Tour

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Comedian Icons Chris Rock and Kevin Hart announced “Rock Hart: Only Headliners Allowed,” a joint comedy tour starting this summer.

The tour will kick-off starting July 21 at the Jones Beach Theater on Long Island, New York, and makes stops across New Jersey and New York City, including Madison Square Garden, before ending on July 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“When Chris and I realized we were both going to be on tour this year we immediately knew we needed to do something special,” Hart said in a statement to The Root.  “We have been friends and mentors to each other for 20 years, but we have never shared a headlining stage together – until now!!! I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the return of live comedy than to co-headline a show with my brother Chris Rock. This is a major moment in comedy and one for the history books.”

Along with the announcement of his joint tour with Rock, Hart has also recently been announced as a headliner for this year’s Essence Festival of Culture. 

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Media Mogul Byron Allen announces plan to bid for NFL’s Denver Broncos

Detroit native Allen started his career as a standup comedian before hosting the long-running interview show “Kickin’ it with Byron Allen” starting in 1992.  He founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and has overseen its growth into a powerful media conglomerate.

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Bloomberg News reported yesterday (2/8), that media tycoon Byron Allen is making a bid to buy the Denver Broncos from the Bowlen Family Trust, if the sale goes through, Allen would become the first Black majority owner of an NFL team.  Allen reportedly in a statement told the business network that he was encouraged to consider NFL franchise ownership by a pair of prominent league power players.

“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft came to me in November of 2019 and asked me to take a good look at buying an NFL team,” Allen’s statement reads. “And after serious consideration, I strongly believe I can effectuate positive changes throughout the league. And for that reason, I will be making a bid for the Denver Broncos.”

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Detroit native Allen started his career as a standup comedian before hosting the long-running interview show “Kickin’ it with Byron Allen” starting in 1992.  He founded Entertainment Studios in 1993 and has overseen its growth into a powerful media conglomerate.

The company’s portfolio includes a stake in regional sports networks formerly owned by Disney and ownership of The Weather Channel, which it purchased in 2018.

Forbes placed the value of the Broncos franchise at $3.75 Billion, though it is expected to sell for more than $4 Billion, said to be a record price for a U.S. sports team.   While it’s difficult to pinpoint Allen’s exact net worth is hard to determine, but is said to be somewhere just under $500 Million.

The Broncos announced the franchise was for sale on Feb. 1, a long expected announcement since the death of former owner Pat Bowlen. The late long-time owner of the franchise left control to a trust just prior to his death.  The trust hopes to find new ownership prior to the start of next season.

 

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The Roots’ Stalwarts, Black Thought & Questlove Join Forces With Disney To Launch Animated Series… ‘Rise Up Sing Out’

The series, which will touch upon themes like diversity, inclusion, kindness and self-expression, was produced in response to parents who have increasingly asked Disney Junior for entertainment content to aid them in talking to children about respect towards others.

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Variety recently announced that Disney is preparing to launch “Rise Up, Sing Out,” a short-form animated musical series that aims to deliver inspiring. empowering and optimistic messages about culture and celebrating differences.“Rise Up, Sing Out,” is an eight-episode series, that is executive produced by Ahmir ‘”Questlove” Thompson and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Roots, and is already available on Disney Plus, the first episode however was streamed Feb 2 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. 

Questlove and Black Thought are executive producers of the series and produced all of the music, the pair will appear in the series as well, depicted as animated characters.

The series, which will touch upon themes like diversity, inclusion, kindness and self-expression, was produced in response to parents who have increasingly asked Disney Junior for entertainment content to aid them in talking to children about respect towards others. Disney found academic research showing children as young as three become aware of differences between people and are capable of discussing those distinctions. One episode celebrates Black hair, while another explores names that can be mispronounced or stigmatized.

Variety quoted Questlove and Black thought saying “The ‘Rise Up, Sing Out’ shorts touch on a lot of real-world issues, especially for young Black kids, that just weren’t talked about when we were growing up. The beautiful thing about these shorts is that not only are they going to provide young kids the proper language to talk to their friends and family about some of the things that might be bothering them, but it’s also going to give parents the tools on how to respond,” Questlove and Black Thought said in a prepared statement. “We feel this is the perfect moment and the perfect time for us to put this project out into the world to plant a seed about kindness that will hopefully have a lasting impact for generations to come.”

Adding to the series rollout, Walt Disney Records released the music from “Rise Up, Sing Out” on Friday Feb 4.

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 ARRESTS MADE | 4 arrested for Michael K. Williams overdose death

days had gone to check on him and found his body.

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Four men have been arrested in connection with the Overdose death of Michael K. Williams, actor who starred in HBO’s Iconic “The Wire.”

Williams was found dead in his Brooklyn penthouse apartment in September 2021 from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin. A relative who hadn’t heard from Williams in a couple of days had gone to check on him and found his body.

On Wednesday, federal authorities announced the arrest of Irvin Cartagena, aka “Green Eyes,” on narcotics conspiracy charges.

Hector Robles, aka “Oreja,” Luis Cruz, aka “Mostro,” and Carlos Macci, aka “Carlito,” were charged as members of the fentanyl and heroin conspiracy.

Since at least in or about August 2020, the drug trafficking organization the “DTO” has been operating in the area of 224 South 3rd Street in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, prosecutors claim. They say DTO sells heroin laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue on the street in front of, and from an apartment inside of, the apartment building located at 224 South 3rd Street, among other places.

They say around September 5, 2021, members of the DTO sold Williams heroin, which was laced with fentanyl and a fentanyl analogue, with Cartagena actually handing over the drugs, surveillance video showed. The surveillance images show Williams in a black tracksuit taking a plastic bag from Cartagena while he’s standing behind trash cans on a street in Williamsburg. Another picture shows the two exchanging cell phone numbers.

Hours later, Williams was found dead inside his apartment.d2d39118-drug-sales.jpg

Prosecutors say a screenshot from a surveillance video shows a drug dealer selling fentanyl laced heroin to actor Michael K. Williams.

Cartagena was arrested Tuesday in Puerto Rico.  Robles, Cruz, and Macci were arrested in New York and were expected to be in front of a Manhattan federal judge on Wednesday.

Cartagena, 39, of Brooklyn, Robles, 57, of Brooklyn, Cruz, 56, of Brooklyn, and Macci, 70, of Brooklyn, are each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute fentanyl analogue, fentanyl, and heroin, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.  Cartagena is also charged with causing the death of Williams in connection with the narcotics conspiracy, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

“We will continue to hold accountable the dealers who push this poison, exploit addiction and cause senseless death,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, no relation to the actor, said on Wednesday. 

Peter Frankel, a former federal prosecutor, explained why this is a federal case. 

“You’ve got a high-profile death, you’ve got fentanyl, which is ravaging our society, and you have a situation where if this went to state court, you’d be looking at all four of them getting out the night that they were arraigned and no prosecution for homicide,” Frankel said. “So, I think for all those reasons, you see the feds involved here and you may see the feds getting involved more and more in street-level drug deals.”

Williams, 54, was famous for his role as Omar Little in the TV series “The Wire” and as Chalky White in “Boardwalk Empire.” He also appeared in the movies “12 Years a Slave,” “Assassin’s Creed,” and others.

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Whoopi Goldberg Suspended From ‘The View’ By ABC For Two Weeks Over Holocaust Statement 

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Yahoo has reported today that Whoopi Goldberg has been suspended from “The View” for two weeks after facing wide criticism for her remarks that the Holocaust was “not about race.”

Goldberg’s suspension was announced in a statement released by ABC News public relations on Tuesday night.

“Effective immediately, I am suspending Whoopi Goldberg for two weeks for her wrong and hurtful comments,” reads a statement attributed to Kim Godwin, president at ABC News. “While Whoopi has apologized, I’ve asked her to take time to reflect and learn about the impact of her comments. The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”

Goldberg’s comments on “The View” reached the highest level of decision makers at Disney, Variety can confirm. According to sources, Peter Rice, the chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, was consulted on the public fallout for Goldberg.

Goldberg’s remarks emerged during a conversation on Monday’s broadcast of “The View,” in which the co-hosts discussed a Tennessee school board’s ban of “Maus,” a nonfiction graphic novel about cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s father’s experience surviving the Holocaust.

“Let’s be truthful about it because [the] Holocaust isn’t about race,” Goldberg said on Monday’s episode. “It’s not about race. It’s about man’s inhumanity to man.”

The remarks drew immediate sweeping criticism from Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

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