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UPDATE: ‘The First Wives Club’ TV Remake moves to BET

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The new TV version of The First Wives Club has found a new home in BET.

According to S&A, the project featuring Jill Scott and Malik Yoba, was initially supposed to be for Paramount TV but now has been moved to another network within the Viacom sphere.

“We are thrilled that Tracy Oliver and Paramount Television’s First Wives Club will be coming to BET Networks. We have been big fans of Tracy, the project and its incredible cast all along. The concept she has for the series fits perfectly with our programming strategy of character-driven content anchored in the black experience, and it aligns seamlessly with our core audience. We are currently working closely with Paramount Television on Boomerang and are excited to continue working with them on this project,” said BET Network president Scott Mills.

The First Wives Club will follow “Ari (Ryan Michelle Bathe), Bree (Michelle Buteau) and Hazel (Scott) who band together after their marriages fall apart, and who find strength in their sisterhood and of course a little revenge.” The husbands will be played by Yoba, RonReaco Lee and Mark Tallman.

The original First Wives Club was a 1996 movie that featured iconic actresses Bette MidlerGoldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: Instagram/Malik Yoba


Jill Scott, Malik Yoba, Ryan Michelle Bathe and more starring in TV version of ‘First Wives Club’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

A television reboot of classic 1996 movie The First Wives Club is coming to Paramount Network and features a star-studded African American cast.

Grammy winning singer and actress Jill Scott, This Is Us star Ryan Michelle Bathe and Michelle Buteau will star in the roles that were made famous by iconic actresses Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.

According to S&A, this new version will follow “Ari (Bathe), Bree (Buteau) and Hazel (Scott) who band together after their marriages fall apart, and who find strength in their sisterhood- and of course a little revenge.”

The husbands will be played by Malik Yoba, RonReaco Lee and Mark Tallman.

Yoba posted the above photo in Instagram with the caption:

“Just finished the table read for our new series we about to start shooting next week #FirstWivesClub and this shit is about to be 🔥🔥🔥🤣😂😅These genius and superbly talented woman we stand behind @missjillscott@ryanmichelleb @michellebuteau are pure COMEDIC GOLD🌟🌟🌟 the chemistry is BANANAS!!! We ain’t too shabby as they mens tho lol!!! @tallmanmark @doublerlee#cantwaittogettowork #llovemyjob#setlife #actors @paramountnetwork.”

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

Photo Credit: Malik Yoba/Instagram

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‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett & more added to ‘ESSENCE Festival’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

The ESSENCE Festival has added more star power to this summer’s lineup of music artists. Empire heartthrob, vocalist and activist Jussie Smollett will get to share his many talents in one of the Super Lounges on Saturday, July 7.

The triple threat performer will be singing songs from his new album, Sum of My Music, which debuted last month. It includes his hit single, “Freedom.”

In addition to Smollett, ESSENCE has also added R&B divas Ledisi and KeKe Wyatt along with jazz sensation Damien Escobar and iconic 90s trio SWV.

The ESSENCE Festival is taking place July 5-8 in New Orleans, LA and features Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Fantasia, Snoop Dogg, The Roots and Teddy Riley‘s New Jack Swing Experience with Guy and BlackStreet.

Stay tuned…

Photo Credits: and Instagram/Jussie Smollett

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CW’s renews ‘Black Lightning’ for a second season

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Who says that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice?

CONGRATS to the cast of the CW’s uberly successful comic book series Black Lightning. It has been renewed for a second season and I am so here for it.

Black Lightning features Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, a school principal who serves in both his day job and at night, as the electric-powered superhero—Black Lightning—to make his city a safer place. Rounding out the cast is Christine Adams as his ex-wife Lynn, Nafessa Williams as his oldest daughter Anissa, China Anne McClain as his youngest daughter Jennifer, Marvin Krondon Jones III as Tobias Whale, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Bill Henderson and Jill Scott as Lady Eve.

“We wanted to re-introduce a certain type of black man back into television and Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning was the perfect vehicle for me. He’s a father and he’s raising two daughters. He has an ex-wife who he loves. He’s dedicated to his community as an educator. He’s an athlete that he came from the neighborhood that he’s teaching and that was perfect character for me. That’s why I wanted to bring him to life,” said creator and showrunner Salim Akil, when I interviewed him this past February during SCAD’s aTVfest.

Watch the entire interview below featuring the rest of the Black Lightning cast as part of my exclusive coverage for UPFRONT and CAU-TV 23:

Black Lightning airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. EST on the CW.

Photo Credit: CW

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#UPFRONT featuring Storm Reid, Kim Kimble, Rosie Perez (AUDIO)

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Check out this past weekend’s edition of UPRONT. It features the star of Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time – Storm Reid. The 14-year-old actress opens up about her character, lessons that she learned from the film’s director Ava DuVernay and more.

UPFRONT also talks exclusively to A Wrinkle in Time lead hairstylist Kim Kimble. The hair and beauty guru discusses the looks she created for the film’s stars Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling. She also celebrates Women’s History Month by giving us her top seven hair divas.

UPFRONT also talks to iconic actress and dance choreographer, Rosie Perez about her new NBC musical drama RISE. The one-hour series debuts this Tuesday, March 13 at 9 p.m.

I’ll also be playing music from some of my favorite music stars in honor of Women’s History Month including Jill Scott, Sade, Julie Dexter and the late Whitney Houston.


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Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg + more to play ‘ESSENCE Festival’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

ESSENCE has released the lineup for this year’s highly anticipated ESSENCE Festival and it is fiyah!!!! I am so excited to announce that music icon—Janet Jackson—will be headlining this year’s festivities in New Orleans.  It all goes down July 5-8 with three nights full of unforgettable performances from over 40 acts.

Sharing the stage with Miss Jackson is Oscar nominated actress and history maker Mary J. Blige as well as Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg, Fantasia and The Roots.  R&B vocalists Miguel, Kelly Price, Marsha Ambrosius and Dave Hollister will also rock the Superdome along with newcomers—H.E.R., Daniel Ceasar, Kelela, and DVSN.

Atlanta R&B divas Xscape are returning along with music icon Teddy Riley, who will produce a special produced segment featuring Blackstreet, Guy and Wreckx-n-Effect.

This year’s Superlounges will hosts a variety of DJ-curated experiences featuring hip hop icon MC Lyte and award winning actor and heart-throb Idris Elba.

D-Nice will make his debut as this year’s Main stage DJ and comedian Roy Wood, Jr. returns as this year’s Main stage host.

Stay tuned as additional acts will be announced in the coming weeks.

Click here to check out coverage from last year’s ESSENCE Festival featuring Diana Ross, India.ArieJohn Legend and more!

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Watch Trailer for RZA’s ‘Love Beats Rhymes’ with Jill Scott + Common (VIDEO + PHOTOS)

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Check out the trailer and a few first look images of RZA‘s upcoming drama, “Love Beats Rhymes” starring rapper Azealia Banks, R&B songtress Jill Scott and Oscar winner Common.

The film was originally titled “Coco” and stars Banks as a struggling rapper who enrolls in a poetry class thinking that her rhymes will impress her teacher, Professor Dixon (played by Scott). Instead, Dixon challenges Coco to seek real meaning in her lyrics, setting her on a journey of discovery that takes her through rap clubs and poetry slams, leading her to find her true voice—and true love. “Love Beats Rhymes” also features Lucien Laviscount, Hana Mae Lee, Method Man and Lorraine Toussaint.

The movie was written by Nicole Jefferson Asher and will available On-Demand beginning December 1, 2017 along with a DVD release on January 2, 2018.

Tell us what you think!

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UPDATE: Queen Latifah + Jill Scott to star in Lifetime’s ‘FLINT’ [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

At the top of the year, RC reported that music legend Cher was teaming up with Lifetime for a film about the Flint Michigan Water Crisis titled “FLINT.” At the time of the story, she was not only starring in the project but she was executive producing it alongside Craig Zadan, Neil Meron and Katie Couric. Fast-forward to now and it appears that the Grammy-winning diva is just serving as an executive producer. (Source: IMDB)

According to, “Girls Trip” actress Queen Latifah is now starring in the film along with Betsy Brandt, Jill Scott and Marin Ireland. Latifah is also executive producing it along with her Flavor Unit Entertainment business partner—Shakim Compere.

“FLINT” examine the events that led to the contamination of the city’s water supply and features Brandt, Scott and Ireland as the “whistleblowers” who exposed the environmental scandal. The film is inspired by the Time Magazine cover story, “The Toxic Tap,” by Josh Sanburn.

Lifetime is also teaming up with he United Way of Genesee County for a PSA campaign featuring the film’s cast members, who will encourage viewers to donate to help the people of Flint. CLICK HERE for more information.

“FLINT” airs on Saturday, October 28 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime.

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#UPFRONT attends ESSENCE Festival + Radio Row + Premieres + More

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

It gives me great pleasure to share my amazing coverage of the 2017 ESSENCE Festival. My arts and entertainment radio magazine—UPFRONT—was there to capture all of the sights and sounds of this year’s festivities as part of Radio Row.  My four-day weekend began on Thursday (June 29) with a special meet & greet + reception with the cast of the indie film, “STEP.”

“STEP” is the true-life story of a girls’ high-school step dance team in Baltimore, whose teachers, counselors, coaches and families, help them achieve their dreams of going off to college. It also takes viewers into the personal lives of three of the dancers— Blessin Giraldo, Cori Grainger, Tayla Solomon—and their coach, Gari McIntyre.  The film has received rave reviews and was the winner of the Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

On Friday (June 30) #UPFRONT began its three day stint on Radio Row. It is one of three areas that celebrity attendees can meet press and conduct interviews. I was truly blessed to have interviewed so many people including cast members from the hugely popular “Orange Is The New Black,” TNT’s new breakout series, “Claws,”  FOX’s “Empire and Star.” I also got a chance to chat with the cast of FX’s “Snowfall” and the new series “The Mayor” and “Ghosted.”

Music divas CeCe Winans, Anita Wilson and Chanté Moore stopped by the table to discuss their new projects. Winans album, Let Them Fall In Love has been killing the gospel charts and is her best work to date. Wilson talked about covering the classic jazz tune “Here’s To Life” for her new album and Moore dished about her album, Rise of the Pheonix and recording her first Christmas CD this fall.

#UPFRONT also chatted with actress and singer Lil Mama (who is going by her real name Niatia) as well as celebrity stylists Mushiya Tshikuka, Razor Chic of Atlanta and Melvin Styles. However, the highlight of Radio Row was talking to New Thought Leader, Life Coach and TV Personality—Iyanla Vanzant. She opened up about her last season + why she continues to participate in the ESSENCE Festival. She also talked about what she has learned personally from doing her award winning show, “Iyanla Fix My Life.”

“What I’ve learned personally is how powerful God is. As Black people were taught, ‘don’t tell your business in the street.’ (LOL) But when there’s a call on someone’s life to serve God, these people are showing up in amazing ways. I’ve also learned how difficult a healing journey can be. People don’t want to suffer. They don’t want to hurt. They don’t want to destroy themselves. But if they don’t have the tools and the information to heal, that’s what they do. I’ve also learned that I don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. I’m human. I can have my time off…my days off and I don’t have to be who people expect me to be.”

In addition to Radio Row, #UPFRONT was able to attend and capture images from the night time concerts. This year’s ESSENCE Festival theme was all about female empowerment, sisterhood and “staying woke” and the entertainers who performed were true reflections of that. Friday’s show included Rhonda Ross, India.Arie, John Legend and the Queen of Motown—DIANA ROSS.

This was Miss Ross’ first time appearing at the Festival since its inception in 1995 and she didn’t disappoint. Other performances included Jazmine Sullivan, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan, Solange, Monica, Lalah Hathaway, Remy Ma, Xscape, Master P, Chance the Rapper and Mary J. Blige.

Other highlights throughout the weekend included the NOLA premieres of “Girls Trip” featuring Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina Hall and Tiffany Haddish. FX also screened its new drama, “Snowfall” which included appearances by the show’s cast + the creator and award winning director John Singleton. #UPFRONT also captured images of the casts from “Detroit,” OWN’s “Greenleaf” and “Queen Sugar” + Ava DuVernay and the “WOKE Women Awards.”

See all of the rest of the images below and click here to listen to the first of two radio shows featuring exclusive coverage of the ESSENCE Festival:

The Cast of “STEP”

Ray Cornelius on Radio Row

John Singleton and Damson Idris from FX’s “Snowfall”

Ray Cornelius with “Snowfall” actors Isaiah John + Malcolm M. Mays

“Claws” stars Niecy Nash + Karrueche Tran

+ showrunner Janine Sherman Barrois

“Claws” cast with Ray Cornelius + UPFRONT Talent Producer Jess Manning

ESSENCE talking to “Black Panther” actress Letitia Wright 

Ray Cornelius with FANDANGO Correspondent Chris Witherspoon

“She’s Gotta Have It” actress DeWanda Wise 

Ray Cornelius with “Empire” stars Ta’Rhonda Jones and Bryshere Y. Gray 


John Legend 

John Legend

John Legend 


Ray Cornelius watching DIANA ROSS 

Ray Cornelius with the cast of “Detroit” – Jacob Latimore, Nathan Davis Jr., Algee Smith, Ephraim Sykes,  Joseph David-Jones

“The Haves and the Have Nots” Tyler Lepley,

Angela Robinson and Gavin Houston

Ava DuVernay during the “WOKE Women Awards” 

Jazmine Sullivan 

Tank + Angel Love + Angel Saunders

on the red carpet of the “Snowfall” NOLA Premiere

Remy Ma performing with her husband and rapper Papoose

Lalah Hathaway

Ray Cornelius with Iyanla Vanzant 

CeCe Winans talking about her new album, Let Them Fall In Love 

Ray Cornelius with CeCe Winans 

Ray Cornelius with Anita Wilson 

Ray Cornelius greeting “cousin” Chanté Moore

Ray Cornelius with Chanté Moore

Ray Cornelius interviewing Miss Lawrence of “STAR”

Ryan Destiny of “STAR”

Ray Cornelius with Miss Lawrence 

Issa Rae, Kofi Soriboe and Larenz Tate at “Girls Trip” NOLA Premiere

Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith at “Girls Trip” NOLA Premiere

Ray Cornelius with the cast of “The Mayor” – Brandon Michael Hall, Yvette Nicole Brown and show creator Jeremy Bronson

Ray Cornelius with Nicci Gilbert 

XSCAPE after their Super Lounge performance

Elle Varner


Ray Cornelius with Craig Robinson of “Ghosted”

Ray Cornelius with Melvin Styles and Razor Chic of Atlanta 

Mushiya Tshikuka talking to #UPFRONT

Ava DuVernay with the cast of “Queen Sugar”

Ray Cornelius with “Snowfall” actor Damson Idris 

Chanté Moore with June’s Diary

Ray Cornelius with Common 

Ray Cornelius with Big Freedia 

Shirley Jones of The Jones Girls 

Ray Cornelius with “Insecure” actress Yvonne Orji

Ray Cornelius with Tamika D. Mallory

Ray Cornelius with the fabulous Candace Ledbetter

Ray Cornelius with “Snowfall” actors Isaiah John + Malcolm M. Mays

Common with cast of “Detroit” – Nathan Davis Jr.,

Jacob Latimore and Joseph David-Jones


Photo Credits: RayCornelius and Mark Angel for

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Anthony Anderson to host Andrew Young’s 85th Birthday Celebration

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

On June 3, 2017, The Andrew Young Foundation will welcome the city of Atlanta and guests from around the world to celebrate the 85th birthday of the Foundation’s founder and chair, Ambassador Andrew Young, by hosting the biennial Andrew J. Young International Leadership Awards. The event will be held at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta.

ABC’s “Black-ish” star, Anthony Anderson will serve as master of ceremonies of the event with feature performances by world-class entertainers including Usher and Jill Scott, who will pay tribute to Young and the 2017 leadership award recipients (TBA).

The awards program will salute extraordinary individuals who are dedicated to improving the lives of those in communities at home and throughout the world; and will honor Young’s global contributions along with his roles as a pastor, activist, ambassador, congressman and mayor of Atlanta. The theme for this year’s event is “Lead Young” in recognition of Ambassador Young’s leadership activities that began at a young age and saluting the next generations of young leaders who are committed to carrying on the fight for human rights around the world.

Proceeds from the event will support the Foundation’s current programs to preserve civil and human rights and help support and sustain future initiatives.

Click here for tickets!

Photo Credits: AYLF and

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BET honors The Obamas with Musical Celebration feat. Usher, Jill Scott and more!

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Not sure how I missed this but BET Networks saluted the First Family (President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama) last night during a musical celebration at the White House. The event was hosted by Terence J and Regina Hall, and featured performances by Usher, Jill Scott, Common, The Roots, Bell Biv DeVoe, Busta Rhymes, Janelle Monáe, De La Soul, Yolanda Adams, Michelle Williams and KiKi Sheard along with appearances by Samuel L. Jackson, Jesse Williams and Angela Bassett.

“Our country has been led for the past eight years by an extraordinary president and first lady,” said Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO, BET Networks. “We have all witnessed history in the making and I am humbled by this momentous opportunity for BET Networks to join the Obamas for this musical celebration.”

The concert special will premiere on BET Tuesday, November 15 at 9:00 P.M. ET/PT.

Stay tuned…

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Jill Scott, Tyrese, Anthony Hamilton & Jazmine Sullivan to appear at ‘Soul Train Weekend’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

All Aboard!

The Soul Train Weekend is back and better than ever! This year’s 4-day weekend of intimate musical experiences takes place November 3-6 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  Confirmed artists include Jill Scott, Tyrese, Monica, Anthony Hamilton, Jazmine Sullivan, Bell Biv DeVoe, Yuna, Tish Hyman and Kid Capri.

There will also be a special night of comedy with the cast of BET’s “The Comedy Get Down” with Cedric ‘The Entertainer,’ D.L. Hughley, George Lopez, Eddie Griffin and Charlie Murphy. The events all lead up to the 2016 Soul Train Awards on Sunday, November 6 at 6 p.m.

Check out the full list of events below:

THURSDAY, November 3rd

“Acoustically Speaking” Sponsored by Toyota

House of Blues Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay @ 7:00PM

Featuring Monica, Jazmine Sullivan, Yuna

FRIDAY, November 4th

“Soul Train Music Festival”

Mandalay Bay Events Center @ 8:00PM

Featuring Jill Scott, Tyrese, Anthony Hamilton, Tish Hyman

SATURDAY, November 5th

“Soul Train Day Party”

DAYLIGHT Beach Club at Mandalay Bay from 12:00PM – 6:00PM

Featuring Bell Biv DeVoe, Kid Capri

“The Comedy Get Down”

Mandalay Bay Events Center @ 8:00PM

Featuring Cedric ‘The Entertainer’, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley, George Lopez, Charlie Murphy

SUNDAY, November 6th

“Soul Train Awards”

Orleans Arena @ 6:00PM

Click here to purchase tickets!

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Maxwell, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott & more headline ‘Neighborhood Awards’

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Maxwell, Jill Scott, and Erykah Badu are just a few of the A-List stars who will be performing at this year’s Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards. The event returns to the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino July 22-24, 2016.

“This is truly a don’t-miss signature destination events experience this year! We are thrilled to present the greatest musical lineup in the history of the Neighborhood Awards, for its 14th year, with an historic blowout weekend celebration in Las Vegas,” says Harvey and Co-Festival creator Rushion McDonald.

Also scheduled to perform are Charlie Wilson, Keith Sweat, Doug E. Fresh and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The O’Jays. There will also be appearances by  Steve Harvey Morning Show co-stars Shirley Strawberry, Nephew Tommy, Carla Ferrell, Junior, Sheryl Underwood and DJ Mars.

Check out the full schedule below and click here to purchase tickets:

2016 Neighborhood Awards Weekend: July 22-24, 2016, Las Vegas NV

Friday, July 22–Freedom Friday Concert, featuring the grand prize finale of the State Farm Sing Your Way to the Freedom Friday Concert talent contest hosted by Sheryl Underwood, with performances starring Keith Sweat and Charlie Wilson

Friday, July 22–Freedom Friday Party, with a performance starring Doug E. Fresh, music by DJ Mars, and a celebration of Keith Sweat’s birthday

Saturday, July 23–14th Annual Neighborhood Awards Show, hosted by Steve Harvey, with performances by Maxwell, The O’Jays, and Erykah Badu

Saturday, July 23–VIP After-Party, hosted by Shirley Strawberry, Nephew Tommy, Carla Ferrell, and Junior, with music by DJ Mars

Sunday, July 24–Neighborhood Awards Beach Party, with a performance starring Jill Scott, with music by DJ Mars

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YAY! BET renews ‘Being Mary Jane’ for a 4th Season

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

My favorite BET series “Being Mary Jane” is coming back for another season. According to Deadline, BET president of programming Stephen Hill and the show’s leading lady Gabrielle Union, announced its return Wednesday morning during the network’s TCA Session.

“Being Mary Jane” follows Union as ‘Mary Jane Paul,’ a very successful news anchor who tries to balance her career, family, love life, and friends in Atlanta, GA. The show was concieved and executive produced by “Girlfriends” creator Mara Brock Akil and executive produced and directed by her husband Salim Akil.  However, the husband and wife team will no longer serve in that role after April due to a new three-year deal with Warner Bros. Reportedly, Mara will only serve as a consultant for the show.

“Being Mary Jane” also stars television and film veterans Richard Roundtree, Margaret Avery, and Richard Brooks as well as Lisa Vidal, Raven Goodwin, B.J. Britt, Aaron D. Spears, and Stephen Bishop.

Season 3 featured Grammy-winning vocalist, poet, and actress Jill Scott and one of my personal favs Loretta Devine, who should recieve an Emmy Award for her performance. The season also touched on a myriad of hot-button issues in the African-American community such as suicide, molestation, drug addiction, interracial dating and police brutality.

“Being Mary Jane” will start shooting for the new season this summer in Atlanta.

Stay tuned…

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