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Tichina Arnold talks ‘The Neighborhood,’ ‘Uncensored’ and more with ‘UPFRONT’

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Comedic actress, singer, producer and Lupus advocate—Tichina Arnold—is returning to primetime this week in the new CBS comedy The Neighborhood. The 30-minute sitcom debuts tomorrow night (Monday, October 1) at 8 p.m. EST.

Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield) is a good-natured, professional conflict negotiator. When his wife, Gemma (Beth Behrs), gets a job as a school principal in L.A., they move from Michigan with their young son, Grover (Hank Greenspan), unfazed that their new dream home is located in a community quite different from their small town.

Their opinionated next-door neighbor, Calvin Butler (Cedric the Entertainer), is wary of the newcomers, certain that the Johnsons will disrupt the culture on the block. However, Calvin’s gracious wife, Tina (Arnold), rolls out the welcome wagon; their chipper younger son, Marty (Marcel Spears), thinks the Johnsons could be good for the community; and their unemployed older son, Malcolm (Sheaun McKinney), finds Dave may finally be someone who understands him. Dave realizes that fitting into their new community is more complex than he expected, but if he can find a way to connect with Calvin, they have an excellent chance of making their new neighborhood their home.

Arnold was in town recently and stopped by the CAU-TV 23 studios to be a guest on my new television show, UPFRONT with Ray Cornelius. It’s the “TV” version of my popular radio show, UPFRONT Inside Atlanta’s Entertainment Industry. 

During our conversation she opens up about her character, appearing on the new season of TV One’s Uncensored and her favorite Martin episode. She also talked about wanting to do more music  (she can saaaaanggggg) and gave some sound advice to our student studio audience.

Check out a first look trailer for The Neighborhood below and tune into UPFRONT with Ray Cornelius this Thursday, October 4 on CAU-TV 23.

Photo Credits: CBS and RayCornelius.com

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#UPFRONT featuring Makeba Riddick-Woods and Michele Shay (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius

This week’s UPFRONT features my one-on-one interviews with Michele Shay, director of the True Colors Production of Nina Simone: Four Women + Grammy Winning Songwriter Makeba Riddick-Woods.

Nina Simone: Four Women is inspired by the classic Simone tune and follows four women as they pick up the pieces of their lives after the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. The play with music is taking place now through October 21 at the Southwest Arts Center.

Makeba Riddick-Woods is an award winning songwriter who has penned hits for some of music’s biggest stars including Beyoncé, T.I., Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and more. Her gospel tune, “Won’t He Do It” has remained on no. 1 on the Billboard Charts for weeks now, proving Woods versatility as a writer and musical force.

UPFRONT airs every Saturday Morning at 9 a.m.

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com

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Cast of ‘Monsters and Men’ attend NYC Premiere (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out photos from the recent New York City premiere of Monsters and Men. It took place at Brooklyn’s BAM Harvey Theatre and was hosted by Toure.

Monsters and Men portrays the story of a young father who witnesses the police shooting of an unarmed black man, causing the tight-knit community of Bed-Stuy to be pushed to the brink in the Sundance Award-winning portrait of race, family, and consequence.

Monsters and Men stars John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chante Adams, Cara Buono and Nicole Beharie. It is directed and written by Reinaldo Marcus Green

Check out the trailer and images from the NYC premiere below:

ANTHONY RAMOS

REINALDO MARCUS GREEN + TOURE

JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON

Photo Credit: Patrick Huban/StarPix.

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Watch Teaser for Showtime’s ‘Black Monday’ with Don Cheadle & Regina Hall (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Showtime has released a new teaser for its upcoming series Black Monday starring Don Cheadle and Regina King.

Black Monday is being described as follows: “The series takes audiences ‘back to October 19, 1987 – aka Black Monday, the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history.’ To this day, no one knows who caused it — until now. It’s the story of how a group of outsiders took on the blue-blood, old-boys club of Wall Street and ended up crashing the world’s largest financial system, a Lamborghini limousine, Don Henley’s birthday party and the glass ceiling.”

In addition to Cheadle and Hall, Black Monday also features Andrew Rannels, Yassir Lester and Michael James Scott.

The series will debut sometime in 2019.

Photo Credit: Black Monday/YouTube.com

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#BETGoesPINK for October with ‘Her Only Choice’ and ‘BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

BET is going Pink for the entire month of October! The iconic television brand is doing its part for breast cancer awareness month with original programming that is sure to keep you informed as well as entertained.

Kicking off the festivities is BET Her’s first original movie Her Only Choice. It tells the story of a woman who after years of infertility becomes pregnant only to be diagnosed with a life-altering disease. She must make a choice to either fight for her life or sacrifice her child’s. The film stars Denise BoutteTimon Kyle DurettLeon RobinsonTiffany SnowTamara Tunie and Vanessa Bell Calloway as Dr. Bailey. It airs Saturday, October 6 at 9 p.m. EST.

The “party with a purpose” continues with the second annual BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer special. This year’s show was taped right here in Atlanta a few weeks ago and is hosted by The Real’s Loni Love. The one-hour special looks to raise awareness, and encourage more people to take action to prevent, diagnose, treat, & end breast cancer.

This year’s honorees include Bershan Shaw and Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green.  Shaw, a transformational coach, motivational speaker, author, and founder of URAWARRIOR.COM, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, it returned as stage 4 in 2009, she ultimately beat the odds is now nine years cancer free.  Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, one of the first 100 African American women to earn a Ph.D. in Physics, is a physicist who specializes in targeted cancer therapeutics using nanotechnology and lasers.  She founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation in memory of her aunt, Ora Lee “Auntee” Smith, whose tragic experience with cancer inspired her to develop a cancer treatment without side effects.

Look for show stopping performances from Kelly PriceEstelle along with Luke James, The Voice season 8 finalist Koryn Hawthorne, and Grammy Award nominees The Walls Group.  Presenters  included OFFSETKeri Hilson and special guest Brandy.

BET Her Fights: Breast Cancer airs Sunday, October 7 at 7 p.m. EST on BET and BET Her.

Check out a few images below:

LONI LOVE

OFFSET

DR. HADIYAH-NICOLE GREEN

KELLY PRICE

KERI HILSON

BERSHAN SHAW

Photo Credits: Moses Robinson for Getty Images

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First Look at Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in Untitled Project

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a first look image of Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers in an upcoming film about his real-life friendship with journalist Tom Junod.

After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor. The untitled project also includes This is Us actress Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

The film is written by Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue and is directed by Marielle Heller. It arrives in theaters October 2019.

I don’t know about you but this image screams “Oscar Winner” already!!!

Tell us what you think!

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures

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Watch the New Trailer for ‘CREED II’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

It’s here…the official trailer for Creed II and Michael B. Jordan is out for blood. The film is the long-awaited sequel to the 2015 hit Creed and features Jordan as the never-say-die fighter Adonis Creed.

The movie reunites the hollywood heartthrob with legendary actor Sylvester Stallone as well as Phylicia Rashad and Tessa Thompson.

It also features Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu and Dolph Lundgren.

Watch the new trailer and tell us what you think…

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First Look at Christiani Pitts in Broadway’s ‘King Kong’ (VIDEO)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out a first look at Christiani Pitts as Ann Darrow in the new King Kong Broadway show. To my knowledge, she is the first African-American actress to star in that role ever.

The original 1933 film featured the iconic Fay Wray, the classic 1976 version featured award-winning actress Jessica Lange and the 2005 version featured Naomi Watts.

Based on the 1932 novel, the stage production of King Kong is a contemporary take on the classic tale of beauty and the beast. The story follows a young actress, Ann Darrow, and a maverick filmmaker, Carl Denham, as they voyage from the bustling streets of 1930s New York to an uncharted island to capture the world’s greatest wonder. At the center of this 21st-century reimagining: a 20-foot high, 2,000-pound gorilla brought to life by a team of seamlessly integrated artists and technicians. King Kong is a larger-than-life encounter with a legend that’s always been too big to contain.

Joining Pitts on stage are Eric William Morris as Carl Denham and Erik Lochtefeld as Lumpy.

King Kong breaks free on Broadway Thursday, November 8.

Watch a sneak peek below:

Thanks Broadway World

Photo Credits: Joan Marcus/Broadway World

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Eric Benet, Demetria McKinney and more join ‘Redemption of Dogg’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

More star power has been added to Je’Caryous Johnson‘s new stage play Redemption of a Dogg featuring Snoop Dogg and Tamar Braxton.

The show chronicles a character built around the persona of the iconic rapper and examines the internal battle one man has between preserving his life-long legacy and losing the love of his life when he is faced with choosing fame and fortune over faith and family.

Redemption Of A Dogg is set against a backdrop of Snoop’s greatest hits, as well as, songs from his recently released chart-topping Gospel album, Bible Of Love. This will be the rapper’s theatrical debut while Braxton will star as “The Angel” who helps guide him through his life’s journey. 

New cast members include four-Time Grammy Award Nominee Eric Benet in the role of Terrence, Snoop Dogg’s manager who ultimately starts managing Snoop’s wife in more ways than one. Saints & Sinners star Demetria McKinney will take on the role of Shani, Snoop Dogg’s wife.  Family Time star Omar Gooding will appear as Ray Boogie, Snoop Dogg’s DJ and long-time friend and producer. Rounding out the cast is actor and comedian James “Lil JJ” Lewis in the role of Young Snoop + American Idol alum and original Color Purple Musical star LaTaya London

“Audiences will not be ready for what this show is going to give them,” said Johnson. “This will be unlike anything urban theatre audiences have seen. Think of merging some of the best moments of Cirque Du Soleil, Preacher’s Wife, Straight Outta Compton and Back to The Future all into one. It will be one of the most moving, visually stimulating, dramatic and musically charged shows they have seen with some of the most talented, iconic musical stars of our time. They can’t afford to miss this show.”

See the full schedule below:

October 5-7                          Houston, TX                    Hobby Center

October 11                           Newark, NJ                     NJPAC

October 12-13                      Philadelphia, PA             Tower Theater

October 14                           Brooklyn, NY                  Kings Theatre

October 19                           St. Louis, MO                  Stifel Theatre

October 20-21                      Chicago, IL                     Arie Crown

October 25-27                      Detroit, MI                      Music Hall

October 28                           Cleveland, OH                 KeyBank State Theatre

November 2                         Atlanta, GA                      Fox Theatre

November 8                         Norfolk, VA                       Chrysler Hall

November 9-11                    Washington, DC               Warner Theatre

November 16                       Los Angeles, CA                Microsoft Theater

November 17                       Long Beach, CA                  Terrace Theater

November 18                       Oakland, CA                       Paramount Theatre

*Dates Subject to Change Without Notice and More Cities To Be Added

Click here for tickets!

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A ‘Broadway-Bound’ Jean-Michel Basquiat Musical is in the works

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The life and times of famed pop artist JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT is coming to the stage. According to DEADLINE, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader and musical director—Jon Batiste—is composing the music for the show.

The project is being directed by John Doyle and produced by Barbara and Alan D. Marks, who are reportedly in talks with the Basquiat estate about securing rights to his paintings and personal archive.

“Over the years, many people have approached us about telling our brother’s story on stage. But having discussed this project with the Marks over many months, our interest was piqued once we understood that their approach to telling our brother’s story treats his life, his art and his legacy with respect and passion. With Jon Batiste and John Doyle leading the creative team, we are thrilled with the possibilities. We cannot wait to begin the developmental process. Broadway is a new world for us, and we looking forward to sharing our brother’s life and art,” said Basquiat’s sisters Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Basquiat said in a statement.

Basquiat is without a doubt, one of the most beloved African-American artists of our time. While he died at the age of 27, he left behind an indelible mark on the worlds of art, fashion and music and is considered one of several artists who reigned during the iconic 1980s New York City era along with Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Today, Basquiat is often praised in the lyrics of hip hop masters like Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Frank Ocean. It will be interesting to see them pull this off.

RC will keep you posted as this project continues to develop.

Photo Credit: Prohtbd.com

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Terri J. Vaughn to appear on Fox’s ‘REL’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

Congratulations to actress, producer and filmmaker Terri J. Vaughn. The former Steve Harvey Show star is headed back to primetime in a guest role on Fox’s newest comedy REL.

Vaughn posted photos of herself holding a REL script on Instagram earlier today with the following caption:

“The gates have been opened!! A few months ago I saw @comedianlilrel and told him we should work together. He agreed and here I am. Back in my Element! THANK YOU”

According to the script Vaughn will be playing “Tia.”

REL is based on the life of Lil Rel Howery and features him as a loving husband and father living on the West Side of Chicago, who finds out his wife is having an affair with his barber. With the barbershop being one of the epicenters of neighborhood gossip, Rel finds his embarrassing business is known by everyone, including the Pastor (also played by Howery), before Rel can even process the emotions himself.

Offering Rel support is his best friend, Brittany (Jess “Hilarious” Moore), and his recently out-of-jail younger brother, Nat (Jordan L. Jones), as well as Rel‘s prideful Dad (Sinbad), who perhaps has taken the barber news even harder than Rel.

Check out a preview of REL below:

https://youtu.be/twzHpHb9A2s

Photo Credits: Terri J. Vaughn/Instagram

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New Poster for ‘CREED II’ starring Michael B. Jordan

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Check out the new poster for CREED II starring Michael B. Jordan. The actor posted it on social media earlier today with the caption:

“You ready? 🙌🏽🙌🏽 #Creed2 Trailer drops tomorrow 👀🔥💥”

Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.

CREED II also stars Sylvester StalloneTessa ThompsonWood HarrisRussell HornsbyFlorian “Big Nasty” MunteanuAndre WardPhylicia Rashad and Dolph Lundgren. It is directed by Steven Caple Jr. and executive produced by Ryan Coogler.

Come back tomorrow to watch the new trailer!

Photo Credit: Michael B. Jordan/ Instagram

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Tatyana Ali, Cornelius Smith Jr. and Loretta Devine to star in ‘Jingle Belle’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Versatile actress Tatyana Ali is teaming up with Lifetime for the upcoming holiday film Jingle Belle. It airs November 25 at 8 p.m.

Every year, Isabelle (Ali) and her high school sweetheart Mike (Cornelius Smith Jr.), rocked their small town’s annual Christmas Eve Pageant with a sweet Christmas duet. But after graduation, Isabelle left to study at Juillard in New York – leaving Mike behind. Years later, when Isabelle returns to her hometown to write music for the annual Christmas Eve Pageant, she is shocked to learn that Mike is the one directing the show. Can Isabelle and Mike put the past behind them and reunite on stage for another show-stopping duet?

Jingle Belle also stars Loretta Devine, Valarie Pettiford, Obba Babatunde, Keshia Knight PulliamTempestt Bledsoe and Arsema Ellison.

Thanks DEADLINE!

Photo Credit: Sway Universe

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Toni and Towanda Braxton to star in ‘Every Day is Christmas’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Braxton Family Values stars Toni and Towanda Braxton are teaming up for a new Lifetime holiday movie titled Every Day is Christmas. The airs November 24 at 8 p.m. EST.

According to DEADLINE, Every Day is Christmas is inspired by the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.  Toni Braxton will star as Alexis Taylor, a shrewd money manager who gets the holiday visit of a lifetime. A self-proclaimed workaholic who “humbugs” love, Alexis ends up embracing the spirit of Christmas when her past, present, and future collide, forcing her to risk the one thing money can’t buy: her heart.

Every Day is Christmas is the first of many projects that Toni Braxton is producing with Lifetime as part of her new production deal. If you recall, she and Queen Latifah signed up with the network in March of this year.

The film also stars veteran actors Michael Jai White and Gloria Reuben. It is written by Karen Schaler and executive produced by Braxton along with Craig Baumgarten, Kenneth Crear, Shawn Williamson, Jamie Goehring, and Jonathan Shore.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: RayCornelius.com