VH1 really seems to be following the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Amid growing criticism of its latest season of “Basketball Wives,” the network is introducing yet another title in a booming roster of provocative programs slanted toward African American viewers wanting to wallow in the behind-the-scenes drama (quite evidently, there is a ton) that goes on with women attached to the music and sports worlds.
“Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta,” a spin-off of the popular New York based docu-series in which slapping, drink throwing and hair pulling became a plot point, is set to premiere on the network on Monday.
The 10-episode series is anchored in a new crop of industry players: Grammy Award-winning producer Stevie J (Diddy, Jay-Z, Mariah Carey), his girlfriend, Mimi Faust, and his protégée, an up-and-coming Latina rapper named Joseline; rapper Lil Scrappy, his girlfriend, Erica Dixon, and his mother, a former hustler known as “Momma Dee”; Atlanta rapper Rasheeda, her manager-husband Kirk Frost; songstress K. Michelle; and Trinidadian R&B singer Karlie Redd.
Pop & Hiss caught up with two of the aspiring performers, Joseline and K. Michelle, to talk drama, putting themselves in front of the camera and, of course, music.
Is there any way to improve on HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire”? Well, it could be turned into a Broadway musical, of course.
Before fans of the beloved drama cry foul, protective of the legacy of the TV series that closely examined the drug-ridden streets of Baltimore, it should be noted that the musical is all in good humor, courtesy of the folks at Funny or Die.
The parody managed to recruit nearly half the original cast, including Larry Gilliard Jr. (D'Angelo Barksdale), Felicia Pearson (Snoop), Andre Royo (Bubbles), Sonja Sohn (Kima) and Michael K. Williams (Omar), where they employ their best jazz hands.
In the four-minute clip, they manage to turn the gritty street tales into something more family-friendly and tease the musical's cheery songs such as "Omar's Comin,' " "It's All in the Game" and a sad ballad, "I'm Just a Burner," told from the point of view of the prepaid cellphones used by drug dealers.
Check out Omar breaking into song and dance, a singing syringe and Snoop in a dress (yeah girl, your hair looks good) below:
Now, if only Funny or Die would give the musical treatment to a few other critically acclaimed dramas that have made all-time best lists. “Oz,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos” and “The West Wing” come to mind.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: In an image from a video released by Funny or Die, actor Michael Kenneth Williams, best known as Omar Little in the HBO series "The Wire," reprises his role for the comedy video "The Wire: The Musical." Credit: Funny or Die / Associated Press.
“Duets,” I already owe you an apology.
I didn't intentionally snub your premiere Thursday night. It wasn't a slip by the ole trusty DVR. But to be completely fair, there's a severe case of viewer fatigue happening.
The premise is rather enticing: four massive-selling superstars artists -- Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, John Legend (who replaced Lionel Richie in the eleventh hour) and Robin Thicke -- not only coach their selected contestants, they sing side by side with them.
It pushes forward “The Voice’s” close-knit mentorship between acts and their respective coaches. Of course, folks are eliminated, there’s a "save me" song, a record deal (Disney-owned Hollywood Records, which, surprise, also owns ABC), blah, blah, blah.
Dick Clark, who died Wednesday at age 82, is widely -- and legitimately -- lauded as the man who made rock 'n’ roll safe for mainstream America with the clean-cut image of “American Bandstand” upon its national premiere in 1957.
But four months before “Bandstand” made the jump from its previous status as a popular local show out of Philadelphia, a watershed moment in the generational divide between rock 'n’ roll-loving teens and their fretful parents took place on, of all places, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”
On April 10, 1957, then-16-year-old Ricky Nelson, the youngest member of the popular clan introduced each week as “America’s favorite family,” showcased his love for the music that was sending adults around the country into conniptions in the wake of controversial appearances by Elvis Presley, whose pelvic gyrations were viewed as lewd by hordes of grown-ups.
Ed Sullivan’s endorsement of Presley as “a real decent, fine boy” in 1956 helped calm some fears, but many in positions of authority remained wary, or outright hostile, after watching Presley on his first national appearance in January 1956 on “The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show,” then subsequently on “The Steve Allen Show” and then “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
After those shows, rock and TV remained a fitful marriage at best. When the music surfaced on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” however, the landscape changed dramatically.
The Nelsons were as wholesome as could be. Millions of Americans, first on radio, then on television, heard and watched Ozzie and Harriet’s handsome young sons, David and Ricky, grow up before their eyes.
Ricky’s passion for rock 'n’ roll was no mere plot device. Outside the show, like scads of other teens, he was lapping up the hits of Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and rock’s other originators.
Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Jamie King’s passion project, “¡Q’Viva! The Chosen” is set to conclude with a live show at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on May 26.
And to bolster the roster of handpicked talent, Lopez and Anthony have announced they'll perform together. It’s the first time the former couple, who were married seven years and have twins, will grace the stage together since announcing their separation in July.
On the tri-lingual show, which airs on both Univision and Fox, the former couple and renowned creative director King have been combing the Americas vetting singers, dancers, musicians and artists for the Las Vegas spectacle. The series chronicled the multi-country selection process and then the Los Angeles rehearsals, culminating in May’s finale.
With Burger King undergoing a massive makeover that includes new décor, delivery options (?!) and health-conscious menu offerings such as garden salads, snack wraps and real fruit smoothies, the burger house needed a little bit of star power to get folks to take notice.
For one of BK's new ads, the chain tapped R&B diva Mary J. Blige to peddle its new chicken snack wraps — through song, naturally. To the tune of Blige’s “Don’t Mind,” from her latest disc, "My Life II ... The Journey Continues (Act 1)," she belts lyrics promoting the wrap’s “crispy chicken, fresh lettuce, three cheeses, ranch dressing, wrapped up in a tasty flour tortilla.”
The jingle isn’t nearly as catchy as McDonald’s iconic Big Mac jingle and just might be so cringe-worthy that it could land Blige on lists of the most embarrassing celebrity commercials of all time. But she will be in good company: the chain also recruited David Beckham, Jay Leno and Steven Tyler, and actresses Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara for Spanish-market ads.
Maybe knowing that music bloggers would use a slow news day like this to riff on the ad, Burger King disabled embedding. But you can check out the ad here.
For those who keep score in the fast food wars, the Florida-based Burger King was bumped out of second place last month by Wendy's, according to our Money & Co. blog. That’s even after the company dethroned its creepy monarch mascot. The makeover happening now is Burger King’s most ambitious marketing initiative in its 58 years.
— Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Screenshot taken from Mary J. Blige's Burger King commercial. Credit: Burger King / YouTube.com
Gwen Sebastian’s time on “The Voice” might have come to an end on Monday’s “Battle Round” episode, but the country songstress has already landed her next gig.
Sebastian announced Tuesday that she’s been added to her “Voice” mentor Blake Shelton’s current Well Lit & Amplified tour.
The singer failed to advance to "The Voice's" live shows after an emotional “battle” with Erin Willett, in which they took on Pat Benatar's “We Belong.” Shelton favored Willett, who dedicated her performance to her father (who had fallen gravely ill before the performance), and she missed his final hours in order to sing (the episode was dedicated to his memory).
Following the bloodbath on Simon Cowell's "The X Factor," which left first season judges Nicole Sherzinger and Paula Abdul with a pink slip, the Internet has continued to buzz over who Cowell would tap to replace the two female judge slots.
A virtual who's who of the current pop diva landscape has been thrown into the rumor mill (Nicki Minaj!? Beyonce!? Janet Jackson!? Fergie!? Katy Perry?!), but recently online speculation has intensified that Britney Spears is nearing a reported $10 million deal to join the show and sit next to Cowell and L.A. Reid. The high profile signing would put her slightly under the $12 million that Jennifer Lopez rakes in at rivaling competition "American Idol."
Whether Cowell wants to admit it, the search to find his new judges couldn’t have been an easy one. A swath of mega-selling pop divas will be busy touring this year, so Madonna, Cher, Celine Dion (she has a Vegas residency) and Jackson are automatically out. Jackson was long rumored to be in talks to take a seat, but last week she announced that despite being flattered by the attention, it was impossible for her to do the gig because of film and touring commitments. There were also reports that before her death Whitney Houston was considering throwing her name in the hat and wanted to meet with Cowell.
Not that we don’t have faith in Spears. Like Lopez and Abdul, she absolutely knows what it takes to be a successful pop star, but it's difficult to picture her judging a singing competition. Some will argue she’s unfit to judge because of her knack for lip-syncing onstage, but the major concern lies in how Spears would hold up with offering off-the-cuff criticism and bantering with her fellow judges on a weekly basis -- on live television nonetheless.
With a formal judging announcement expected soon, Pop & Hiss offers Cowell a little bit of unsolicited advice just in case Spears falls through. Here are seven bold-named divas Cowell and Co. should consider:
In the hours after the death on Wednesday of singer Davy Jones, Bob Rafelson spoke glowingly on Wednesday about the legacy of the Monkees, both the TV show he and partner Bert Schneider created in 1966, and the real-life group that emerged from the Hollywood sound stages for which it was assembled.
"Davy Jones deserves a lot of credit, let me tell you," Rafelson, 79, said from his home outside Aspen, Colo. "He may not have lived as long as we wanted him to, but he survived about seven lifetimes, including being perhaps the biggest rock star of his time.”
Rafelson corrected the oft-reported assumption that “The Monkees,” focusing on the antics of four likable rock musicians, was inspired by the Beatles' hit film “A Hard Day’s Night.”
“This was a show I had written six years before the Beatles existed, and the pilot was based on my own life as an itinerant musician when I was 17 years old,” Rafelson said. “What the Beatles did was to create a kind of permission for any rock ‘n’ roll to be a popular subject for television.”
In auditioning 437 actors and musicians for the four spots in the band, Rafelson said there had been no prerequisite that any of them would be British.
“It was his talent and his incredible charm” that landed Jones the role as the group’s heartthrob. “He went through the same audition process many of the others did, and that meant about 15 screen tests. David made that cut and, of course, survived after that as well.”
It did help, however, that Jones had begun developing a public profile before the show started shooting. “David was one of the few anybody recognized,” Rafelson said. “Somebody in the family of one of the producers had seen him perform as the Artful Dodger” in the early 1960s Broadway production of the musical “Oliver!”
Even though a real band, the Lovin’ Spoonful, was among those that showed up to the auditions, Rafelson said that musical credibility wasn’t the only factor.
“We were much more interested in putting the band together according to what we thought would make a good television group,” he said. “Just because somebody had a hit record out doesn’t mean they’re going to be either a good TV actor or that they would blend well on the screen. We quickly got past that idea. But we were flattered that people who had such extraordinary reputations as the Spoonful wanted to do the show.”
The life of the late Heavy D will be chronicled in a documentary, "Be Inspired: The Life of Heavy D," set to be shown on the BET-owned network Centric on Sunday.
The film will include interviews with family and friends of the pioneering rapper, according to the network. Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, Cee Lo Green, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, as well as the rapper's family, were tapped for the documentary, which will explore the rapper's rise as frontman for the New Jack Swing outfit Heavy D and the Boyz, to his thriving solo career that included acting in films, television and stage and a stint as president and chief executive of the very label that launched his career, Uptown Records.