BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: HBO Max doubles down on Issa Rae

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By Bill Vaughan

Contributing Writer

With the impending end of “Insecure,” HBO Max is doubling down on doing more business with the series’ creator, producer, writer and star Issa Rae, by ordering two shows from her HOORAE Productions.

Up first is “Sweet Life: Los Angeles” set to debut this summer.

The reality show purports to give an honest and unique look into what it means to be young, Black, and in constant pursuit of one’s dreams in the heart of South Los Angeles.

The series follows a group of young, strong-willed, ambitious Black friends showcasing their relatable, authentic and sometimes stumbling mid-20s moments as they embrace the joy and struggles of love and family, while building their careers as tastemakers and influencers in the city where they grew up.

“We’re so proud to present a grounded and fun slice of young Black L.A. life,” Issa Rae says. “We hope the HBO Max audience will relate to and fall in love with this group of friends as much as we have.”

The streamer has also given an eight-episode order to the docuseries “Project Greenlight,” a reinvention of the critically acclaimed original Miramax and HBO series which was previously spearheaded by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

The docuseries will focus on the next generation of talented female filmmakers who are given the chance to direct a feature film. Issa Rae will appear in every episode as an executive producer, providing guidance and mentorship to these aspiring filmmakers. The finished film will then premiere on HBO Max.

SAY IT LOUD: CNN’s W. Kamau Bell, Sara Sidner and Karen Finney; producer/director Reginald Hudlin; political activists Tiffany D. Loftin and LaTosha Brown; New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James; and Cornell William Brooks are among the confirmed speakers for the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at Harvard Kennedy School’s spring convening “Achieving Our Country: An Academy of Citizen Activism,” to be held May 20-21. For more info, visit www.trotter.hks.harvard.edu/.

CLIPPETTES: Atlanta’s Spelman College is naming its performing arts center after famous acting alums LaTanya Richardson Jackson and hubby Samuel L. Jackson. The renovated facility was made possible by a lead gift from the [Melody] Hobson/[George] Lucas Family Foundation along with generous donations from the actors themselves, Bank of America and David Rockefeller Jr. …

Rapper Young Thug hits the stage of the Wiltern on May 21. Get your tickets at youngthug.veeps.com/stream/events/

AT&T’s WarnerMedia (HBO, TNT, TBS, etc.) has merged with Discovery (OWN, HGTV, etc.) in a $43-billion deal creating an industry monopoly of sorts

The 14th annual Day of Black Docs, the signature fundraising event of the Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West (BADWest), will be held virtually May 22. Tickets are $15 for the daylong event from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., which includes screenings, panel discussions, question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers as well as a virtual afterparty. For more, visit: www.dayofblackdocs.org

Also that day, celebrated radio personality Monifa Brown reaches 25 years as host of WBGO’s award-winning “Saturday Afternoon Jazz” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Join in the celebration at www.wbgo.org

Questlove’s feature documentary “Summer of Soul” and “The 1619 Project,” a docu-series based on the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning research produced by Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate are the first projects in line for Disney’s new Onyx Collective, presenting curated programming by creators of color.

TASTY QUIP: “Hip-hop is clearly a very large branch on the tree of rock & roll. I’m a direct descendant of everything that Little Richard did. To say that I don’t belong is ludicrous. This is a guy that would sit with his arm around me and say, ‘You guys are continuing the push the torch forward. You are carrying the torch.’ Let’s not act like I’m not a direct descendant of the Chuck Berrys and the Little Richards of the world. It might be hard to draw a line from me to some people, but when you get to the roots of it, I’m the fruit of that root.” – LL COOL J to Rolling Stone on his selection to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

TC ON TV: May 21 – “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything” (AppleTV+): The docuseries examines iconic artists (Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, the Rolling Stones) and songs that we still listen to 50 years later. “P!nk: All I Know So Far” (Amazon): A behind-the-scenes look at the chart-topping singer. “The Me You Can’t See” (AppleTV+): A multi-part documentary series from co-creators and executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, on the current state of mental health and emotional well-being. “Solos” (Amazon): A seven-part anthology series exploring the human experience with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Nicole Beharie, Anthony Mackie, Constance Wu and others. “The Bite” (Spectrum): A pandemic set six-episode series starring Audra McDonald, Taylor Schilling and Leslie Uggams. “Army Of The Dead” (Netflix): Dave Bautista and Omari Hardwick are leads in this zombie heist film from “Justice League” director Zach Snyder. “Pause With Sam Jay” (HBO): The Emmy-nominated writer and stand-up comedian hosts a late night talk show/party from her apartment, where she and her guests explore current topics.

May 22 – “Iyanla: Fix My Life” (OWN): A two-hour series finale with clips, never before shown footage and returning guests. “Life, Death & Money” (Reelz): Redd Foxx “Saturday Night Live” (NBC): Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) hosts the season finale with musical guest Lil Nas X.

May 23 – “Master Of None” (Netflix): Lena Waithe’s Denise is the focus of season three directed by co-creator Aziz Ansari. “2021 Billboard Music Awards” (Fox): Drake will be honored as Artist of the Decade; and the 30th anniversary of the hit “Optimistic” will be celebrated with a performance by the song’s writers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and original singers Sounds of Blackness with Ann Nesby remotely from Prince’s Paisley Park studio in Minnesota. “The Chi” (SHO): Luke James and Curtiss Cook are now season four regulars with Kandi Burruss and La La Anthony continuing as guest stars. “In Treatment” (HBO): The award-winning drama returns for its fourth season with Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) in the lead role of the therapist with Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”) and Liza Colón-Zayas (“David Makes Man”) among the supporting cast members. “Unsung” (TV1): The Jones Girls “Flatbush Misdemeanors” (SHO): A new half-hour comedy series created and written by Kevin Iso (“High Fidelity”) and Dan Perlman (“That’s My Bus!”), who both star as two long-time friends seeking to connect with others in their new Brooklyn surroundings.

May 24 – “Women In Entertainment: The Next Generation” (Lifetime): Hosted by Padma Lakshmi and featuring Jurnee Smollett, Anna Kendrick, Anitta, Elizabeth Olsen and others. “Black Lightning” (CW): After four seasons, the electrifying superhero series comes to an end.

May 25 – “Mike Tyson: The Knockout” (ABC): Part one of a four-hour documentary on the life of the boxing legend. “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne/Assisted Living” (BET): 2020’s No. 1 and No. 2 comedy series on cable for African Americans 18-49 and 25-54 are back. “Black Women Own The Conversation” (OWN): Carlos Watson returns to host more intimate conversations with celebrity guests and 100 Black women. “Superman & Lois” (CW): David Ramsey (“Arrow,” “The Flash”) solidifies his connection with the DC Comics universe by directing this episode. He also will appear in upcoming episodes of “Batwoman” and “Legends of Tomorrow,” where he’s rumored to be portraying famed Black Western figure Bass Reeves. “Soul Of A Nation” (ABC): “After Floyd: The Year That Shook The World”

May 26 – “High On The Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America” (Netflix): Black food is American food. Chef and writer Stephen Satterfield traces the delicious, moving from Africa to Texas in this docuseries.

May 27 – “Justice Now: The Way Forward” (BET): Hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, the special features dialogues with George Floyd’s family, former NBA player Stephen Jackson, Sen. Cory Booker, singer John Legend, rapper TI, activist Tamika Mallory, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and more. “2021 iHeartRadio Music Awards” (FOX): Usher will host and perform along with The Weeknd with Ariana Grande, and Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak). “Overserved With Lisa Vanderpump” (E!): “A Trip to Japan: Jaleel White & Kym Whitley

TASTY QUIP: “I’ve had people ask me, ‘Do you feel prettier now that you’ve lost weight?’ I was like, ‘Hell, no! I liked being juicy! I was cool.’ But I do like the way [the weight loss] feels on my body, I like the way it feels on my joints. You do notice a difference. Besides, to me, there is no such thing as a classic beauty. Beauty takes on so many different forms, in different times and depending on the nation. It’s just about being confident, loving yourself, and understanding your value.” – ANDRA DAY to InStyle

 

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at tastyclips@yahoo.com, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.

 

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