Mobb Deep Rapper Prodigy Passes Away at 42

According to XXL, Prodigy of Mobb Deep has died at age 42. A publicist for the group confirmed to XXL that he was found unconscious this morning and has passed away.

Mobb’s publicist sent XXL the following statement:

“It is with extreme sadness and disbelief that we confirm the death of our dear friend Albert Johnson, better known to millions of fans as Prodigy of legendary NY rap duo Mobb Deep. Prodigy was hospitalized a few days ago in Vegas after a Mobb Deep performance for complications caused by a sickle cell anemia crisis. As most of his fans know, Prodigy battled the disease since birth. The exact causes of death have yet to be determined. We would like to thank everyone for respecting the family’s privacy at this time.”

For his entire career, Prodigy was a master wordsmith, handling the lyrical heft for Mobb Deep while Havoc paved the way as one of New York’s premier producers. Now we will forever mourn the loss of one of the greatest rappers of all time.

Last weekend, Prodigy was in Las Vegas with Havoc, performing on the Art of Rap tour. Ghostface Killah, Onyx, KRS-One, Ice-T were also on the bill. 

Sidebar: RIP Prodigy. Condolences to his family and friends.

 

BET Acquires Los Angeles Film Festival-Bound Comedy Feature 'Fat Camp'

According to Shadow and Act, BET has acquired the comedy feature, "Fat Camp" set to air in July, the network announced.  It will make its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) next week (Wednesday, January 21 at 9:05PM), in the LA Muse section, from director Jennifer Arnold, starring Chris Redd, Anabelle Acosta, Michael Cienfuegos, Mel Rodriguez, and Vivica A. Fox. 

The film follows 20-something Hutch who thinks image is everything. He acts like a big shot, even though he's not, and is evidently too spoiled to get a job. But when his mother kicks him out of the house and he’s forced to work at his uncle’s fat camp, he finds himself supervising an offbeat group of husky boys, who ultimately help him grow up. 

Scripted by Chuck Hayward, based on a story by Shane Dawson and Hayward, the film, Arnold's feature directorial debut, is further described as a willfully offensive adult comedy with no manners and tons of heart. 

“As the premier destination for lovers of African-American culture, BET Networks is committed to supporting independent filmmakers and engaging our viewers worldwide, ” said Maureen Guthman, BET Networks’ SVP of content strategy.   "Fat Camp" is produced by Tatiana Kelly, Jim Young, William B. Macomber, and Eleanor Nett. Valerie Stadler, Peter E. Blacker, and Shane Dawson are executive producers. Cinematography is by Patti Lee with editing by Brad Wilhite. Music by Siddhartha Khosla.  The film is a FLUENCY Productions, a division of NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. 

‘All Eyez on Me’ Has Strong Box Office Debut

According to Variety,  “All Eyez on Me,” a biopic of Tupac Shakur from Lionsgate and Summit, is expected to earn just over $27 million in its opening weekend.  That’s above most estimates, which had it in the $17 million to $22 million range earlier in the week, but below the $30 million it was projected to score as recently as Saturday. “All Eyez on Me” won’t break any box office records, but for a movie with a $45 million budget, that’s a solid opening. What’s more noteworthy, though, is just how “unpredictable” it has been. 

“All Eyez on Me” didn’t get much help from critics — its aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes stands at only 24%. It was also known as a troubled production. A Vulture report detailed how it was first conceived in 1997, and landed in theaters two decades later having weathered multi-million dollar lawsuits and writer and director changes. While it did receive support from some key celebrities, others like Jada Pinkett Smith and John Singleton were outspoken in their criticism of the film and its portrayal of Shakur. Upon finishing the shoot, producer L.T. Hutton posted a message on Instagram that summed up the journey in all caps: “HARD WORK PASSION, DETERMINATION AND PERSISTENCE !!! GOT IT DONE !!! POINT BLANK !!!!” 

And fans showed up. Advance ticket sales were one positive indication that the movie would perform well. And the release date, pegged to what would have been Shakur’s 46th birthday, helped it post especially large numbers on Friday, and in Thursday previews when it topped weekend winner “Cars 3.”

Sidebar: I saw the movie over the weekend and I give it a 7. Even though it wasn't the best biopic I have ever seen I am glad it was made and that I went to see it.  I think black people should support it. Do you know how many whack white movies get supported? Thousands! It is so difficult to get a movie made and takes so much time that I feel like we should at least go see it. Even if you end up hating it go and make that decision for yourself. 

Beyoncé and Jay Z Welcome Twins

According to Variety, Beyoncé Knowles and Jay Z have welcomed twins, It is unknown precisely when the singer gave birth, though it stands to reason that it would have been on or around June 15, as Jay Z was due to be honored that night in New York City at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, but did not attend the ceremony.

The sex of the twins is also unknown, but former U.S. President Barack Obama hinted at the arrival of two girls in a video message broadcast at the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They’ll join big sister Blu Ivy Carter, born in January 2012. 

On Friday, a woman was seen at a Los Angeles hospital, carrying a bouquet of pink, purple and blue flowers with two giant baby foot-shaped pink and blue balloons that read, “Baby Girl” and “Baby Boy.”

According to an eyewitness, the woman walked into the front of the building, then got back into her car and drove into an underground parking lot. She emerged five minutes later without the flowers. What makes this delivery super peculiar is that the card attached read “B & J.”

Beyoncé announced her pregnancy via Instagram on February 1. The post — showing the singer embracing her baby bump in a garden scene — broke records on the social media platform. The post currently has nearly 11 million likes. 

She performed at the Grammys later that month in a visual spectacle that included holographic technology. During the show, she took home trophies for Best Urban Contemporary Album (for “Lemonade”) and Best Music Video (for “Formation”). Despite having the most nominations, she got shut out in the top four categories to Adele.

Beyoncé has kept a low profile in recent months, dropping out of Coachella (she was replaced by Lady Gaga) in April and skipping the Met Gala in May.

The Carter family is reportedly looking at properties in Los Angeles, having made a $120 million offer on a brand new Bel-Air property designed by architect Paul McClean.

Hill Harper Opens Up About Welcoming a Son Through Adoption

According to People, actor Hill Harper is opening up for the first time about finalizing the adoption of his son Pierce, 18 months, in spring 2017, and why its changed his life for the better.

“[Adopting Pierce] was the greatest decision I’ve ever made and I’ve never been happier,” Harper, 51, tells PEOPLE exclusively.  Being a single dad wasn’t part of Harper’s life plan, but fate brought him and Pierce together, he says.  “For years, I always wanted to be a parent,” he says, “I thought, you know, you get married, you have kids.”

But in the summer 2015, a friend got Harper to start talking seriously about adoption. “And I was like, ‘Oh, you know, I’m not ready. I’m not married yet.’ And she said, ‘Why not? Just have a conversation. Find out what’s all that.’ ”Harper connected with an adoption attorney, who walked him through the process and advised the star to call him when – and if – he was ready.  “Fast-forward to a few days before Thanksgiving [2015], and my phone rang,” said Harper. The attorney revealed that a woman giving birth in three weeks was seeking adoptive parents for her child.

Initially shocked by the shortened timeframe, Harper says a conversation with Pierce’s “amazing” birth mom quickly changed his mind. “I really felt like it was God telling me to do it,” he says. “And I’m so glad that he chose me, and [Pierce’s mom] and God and the universe chose me.”

Harper was there when Pierce was born in December 2015, and got to cut his son’s umbilical cord in the delivery room.  “I was so scared,” he says of that moment. “I think because it was such a huge decision. But looking back now, all the fears I had werhttps://youtu.be/9sGIXKGRX28e ridiculously small compared to the joy of having him in my life and having the opportunity to be a father.”  The actor has had a great support system from his mother and family, and his girlfriend.

Sidebar: So happy for him! Check out the time I spoke to Hill Harper on the red carpet of the NAACP theater awards in LA. 

 

 

Dr. Dre to Donate $10 Million for Compton High School's New Performing Arts Center

According to the LA Times, Dr. Dre has pledged to donate $10 million to help build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School, the Compton Unified School District told The Times on Thursday. 

“My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve,” Dre said in a statement to The Times. “The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future.”

The complex will provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater.  The performing arts center will also be a resource for the Compton community at large, officials say. 

The hip-hop mogul and Compton native will be directly involved in raising the remaining funds needed to complete the center, which is expected to break ground by 2020.

“The support that Dre has shown to Compton over the years is unwavering and we are so excited that we will now be home to one of the greatest performing arts centers in the country,” said Satra Zurita, president of Compton Unified’s governing board of trustees.

Micah Ali, vice chairman of the district's board of education, said the new high school will be the   most modern public school complex ever built.  "We are looking forward to blending both [Dre's] vision and that of the district to provide opportunities for individuals to both explore and apply their creativity in the arts," said Darin Brawley, Compton Unified superintendent.

Sidebar: Now that's how you leave a legacy! Awesomeness Dr. Dre. So happy for the future students of Compton. This is big. 

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor set to fight in August

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According to ESPN, what began as talk for a fight many perceived as impossible between a boxing legend and the biggest star in mixed martial arts is now a reality.  Five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. made the official announcement on social media Wednesday, confirming that he will exit a 23-month retirement at age 40 to face Conor McGregor, the UFC superstar, in a boxing match on Aug. 26 in Las Vegas.  

UFC president Dana White, appearing on SportsCenter, said the fight would be at the boxing junior middleweight weight limit of 154 pounds, the fighters would use 10-ounce gloves and the card would take place at the T-Mobile Arena.  The fight will be broadcast on Showtime PPV.

"We've been in negotiations for a while," White told SportsCenter. "Negotiations went smooth. Floyd is surrounded by some smart people, and we got this thing done. The impossible deal is now done."  The announcement brings to an end rampant speculation that began two years ago when McGregor threw out the prospect of the fantasy match during a July 2015 appearance on Conan O'Brien's talk show, telling the host, "I would box him if the opportunity arose."

Ireland's McGregor (21-3), a 28-year-old southpaw, is the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold titles in two different divisions and one of the best MMA fighters in the world, but he will be making his professional boxing debut against Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers in history.  

Although no major titles are on the line and Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) is an astronomical favorite, the fight offers both combatants an opportunity to make huge money.  Mayweather is a -1,100 favorite at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, with McGregor paying back +700.

McGregor has been outspoken about his desire for a fight that will dwarf his largest UFC payday, while Mayweather, who earned some $250 million for his record-shattering victory against Manny Pacquiao in May 2015, stands to earn a second nine-figure windfall.

Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) also has the chance to finish off his career at a perfect 50-0 in a bout that few expect to be competitive but has nonetheless piqued the public's interest because of the boxing-versus-MMA angle, not to mention the big personalities and trash-talk ability of both fighters.  Mayweather has not fought since easily outpointing Andre Berto in September 2015 to retain his welterweight world title and then retiring. But he has been vocal about his desire to exit retirement for only one fight -- the big one against McGregor.

The Mayweather-McGregor card will be boxing only, and Mayweather has said he wants two of his company's top fighters to appear on it: Badou Jack (21-1-2, 12 KOs), a former super middleweight world titleholder who vacated his belt in January to move up to light heavyweight, and junior lightweight world titlist Gervonta Davis (18-0, 17 KOs).

NeNe Leakes Announces her Return to Real Housewives of Atlanta

According to People, NeNe Leakes is returning to The Real Housewives of Atlanta for its upcoming 10th season.  The 49-year-old star tweeted the news on Wednesday, accompanied by a shot of herself in a cleavage-bearing top and crown holding a champagne glass and a peach.

“It’s been a long process but we’ve finally reached an agreement!” Leakes wrote, the new later confirmed on Bravo’s website. “All hail the Queen for season 10 of #RHOA. #thethreatisback.”  

It is not known whether Leakes will be returning as a full-time Housewife, friend of the Housewives, or guest in season 10. She has been a fixture on RHOA since it first premiered on Bravo in October 2008, leading the franchise — Bravo’s most successful of all their Housewives — for seven seasons and appearing as a guest in season 8.

Though she’s been off the show for the past two years, Leakes has never stopped talking about it or the drama between cast mates — albeit on Twitter or during her many infamous appearances on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.  

Filming for RHOA‘s 10th season is expected to begin soon. While no casting decisions have been announced yet, Burruss, Williams, Kenya MooreCynthia Bailey and Shereé Whitfield are all expected to return — while Parks will not.

Kim Zolciak-Biermann — a frenemy of Leakes and fellow original RHOA Housewife — is said to also be returning to the show next season, a source confirms to PEOPLE.

Malcolm Jamal Warner Welcomes First Child

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According to TheJasminebrand, Malcolm-Jamal Warner who is the 46-year-old actor known for his role on the ‘Cosby Show‘, welcomed his first child. Warner keeps his romantic life private, but reportedly the child’s mother is an attorney from Bridgeport, Conn. She and Warner are said to be "very much in love." Warner, who dated actress Regina King a few years ago, has yet to confirm or deny the baby news.

Sidebar: Congratulations Theo!!! 

Showtime Premieres Trailer + Sets Air Date for Documentary on Life of Whitney Houston

According to Shadow and Act, Showtime Documentary Films will premiere "Whitney. 'Can I Be Me'," a film exploring the incredible career and complicated life of legendary songstress Whitney Houston, on Saturday, August 26 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. It will air exclusively on Showtime, the network's authentication service Showtime ANYTIME and the Showtime stand-alone streaming service. 

"Whitney. 'Can I Be Me'" is an intimate portrait of Houston, directed by acclaimed BAFTA Award winner Nick Broomfield ("Kurt & Courtney") with Rudi Dolezal, that garnered high praise at its Tribeca Film Festival premiere in May. Six-time Grammy winner Whitney Houston was one of the most successful female recording artists of all time, but after a troubled marriage to singer Bobby Brown and many years of struggles with addiction, Houston died suddenly and tragically at age 48. With never seen before behind-the-scenes footage, candid interviews and gripping performance footage - including many of Houston's greatest hits - "Whitney. 'Can I Be Me'" will offer a raw and uncensored look at Houston, exploring the impact her life and death had on the people around her and the world of music. The film explores Whitney's central dilemma: even though she had made millions of dollars, had more consecutive number ones than The Beatles and was recognized as having one of the greatest voices of all time, she still couldn't do what she wanted to do, either professionally or in her personal life. 

"Whitney. 'Can I Be Me'" is executive produced by John Battsek through his Passion Pictures label, Patrick Holland, Shani Hinton, Charles Finch and Ben Silverman. Director Broomfield also co-produced with Marc Hoeferlin. 

Showtime has premiered a trailer for the documentary below: 

Xscape is Getting TV Show on Bravo Produced by Mona Scott Young

According to TMZ, Xscape is filming a docu-series in ATL and the show will air on Bravo in November when 'RHOA' returns so it can piggyback off the show.

The show will follow all 4 members -- Kandi BurrussTiny HarrisLaTocha and Tamika Scott -- as they reunite to prepare for their first performance in over 20 years which takes place at Essence Festival later this month.  VH1's mega-producer Mona Scott-Young, of the 'Love & Hip Hop' franchise, has signed on as executive producer.

Nicole Byer's 'Loosely Exactly Nicole' to Make a Comeback on Facebook

According to The Hollywood Reporter, 'Loosely Exactly Nicole' was canceled after one season on MTV, but the social media giant is near a deal to revive it for a second season.  Facebook has lined up one of the first series in its push to bulk up on original video programming. 

The social media giant is near a deal to revive Nicole Byer vehicle Loosely Exactly Nicole for a second season. The news comes four months after the scripted comedy was canceled after one low-rated season on MTV. Facebook and producers Jax Media declined comment.  

Loosely Exactly Nicole is a family comedy inspired by the life and comedy of Byer, who broke out for the Viacom network with talk show Girl Code. The series launched on MTV last September, drawing just 360,000 total viewers, before wrapping quietly in October with less than 150,000 viewers. Sources note a writers room has already been opened and some of the cast and all of the creative team — including creator and showrunner Christine Zander — are poised to return. 3 Arts exec produces alongside Jax; MTV is no longer involved in any capacity.

Additional details about the project remain closely guarded as Facebook preps an expected summer launch for its video slate. 

The decision to revive Loosely Exactly Nicole reunites Byer with Mina Lefevre, who developed the series during her tenure as executive vp at MTV. She exited the Viacom network in February before moving to Facebook as head of development. MTV canceled the series in February as the cabler, under new president Chris McCarthy, refines its focus on scripted programming. (MTV also canceled critical darling Sweet/Vicious and pot comedy Mary + Jane.)

Loosely Exactly Nicole will be among the tentpole projects that Facebook uses to lure viewers to its new video tab. It's an effort that began six months ago with the hiring of CollegeHumor founder Ricky Van Veen as global head of creative strategy to jump-start Facebook's video ecosystem

Facebook is lining up two types of programming for its video tab, according to sources familiar with their plans. They include shortform series from digital producers such as BuzzFeed and Vox Media and a handful of signature, television-quality series that Facebook is calling "hero" projects. For those top-tier shows, Facebook is said to be looking to spend about six figures per episode for full ownership, which would give it the ability to release them to its global audience of 1.9 billion monthly active users. Terms of its expected deal for for Loosely Exactly Nicole are unclear.

Sidebar: I like Nicole a lot! She tickles me and I'm super happy she got a second season. Congrats girl!  

Mary J. Blige Ordered to Pay Estranged Husband Kendu Isaacs $30,000 a Month in Temporary Spousal Support

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According to TMZ, a judge has ordered Mary J. Blige to pay Martin Isaacs $30,000 per month in temporary spousal support. Big number, no doubt, but way less than what he requested ... $129,319 per month.

The court found Martin was entitled to some money to accommodate the standard of living he was used to while married to Mary, but also decided his dream number was unreasonable. 

Mary will also have to pay retroactive spousal support dating back to September and his attorney fees that comes to $235k.  The court says Mary and Martin were living beyond their means during their marriage and still have millions of dollars to pay back in taxes.

Kevin Hart & T.I. Team For Music Comedy Series ‘The Studio’ In Works At Showtime

According to Deadline,  The Studio, a music-themed office comedy from Kevin Hart, and rapper-actor Tip “T.I.” Harris, has landed at Showtime for development. In addition to executive producing, Hart and T.I. are expected to make occasional guest appearances on the show, from Lionsgate TV.

Written by Aeysha Carr (Everybody Hates Chris), The Studio will chronicle the day-to-day and night-to-night antics that happen in a music recording studio, the people who work in this very unorthodox office place and the conversations you have when your peak work hours are from midnight to 6 AM, Hart, Harris and Carr executive produce with Brian Sher and 3 Arts’ Dave Becky. Lionsgate TV is the studio via its deal with Hart.

Like T.I., Hart also has a music background. The comedian, as his rapper alter ego “Chocolate Droppa,” has a record deal and released Kevin Hart: What Now? (The Mixtape Presents Chocolate Droppa), featuring the single “Baller Alert” with Migos & T.I. You can watch below a skit Hart and T.I. filmed to promote the record, a soundtrack to Hart’s documentary. T.I. also co-starred alongside Hart in Get Hard and made a cameo in Hart’s Ride Along 2.

Rashad Jennings and Emma Slater Win Dancing With The Stars

According to ABC, NFL running back Rashad Jennings won the coveted mirror ball trophy Tuesday night in the season 24 finale of Dancing With the Stars.  In the 2 1/2 hour star-studded show, three finalists squared off: Jennings and his partner, Emma Slater; two-time World Series champion David Ross and his partner, Lindsay Arnold; and Fifth Harmony star Normani Kordei with her partner, Valentin Chmerkovskiy.  In the end, it was down to Ross and Jennings, and Jennings won the season. It was announced that Jennings will be joining the "Dancing With the Stars" summer tour.

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I had no idea when I interviewed Rashad Jennings a few weeks ago that he would be the winner! Watch my red carpet chat below. 

Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o will costar in a buddy movie directed by Ava DuVernay for Netflix

According to Huffington Post, It all started with a tweet. The Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o movie dreamt up by Twitter users and propelled to viral fame is set to become a reality. Netflix nabbed the rights in “a very aggressive bid” at the Cannes Film Festival, Entertainment Weekly reported. 

Back in April, @blaquepink shared an iconic 2014 photo of Rihanna and Nyong’o seated together at Paris Fashion Week.  Ava DuVernay will direct and Issa Rae is set to write, according to EW. DuVernay and Raewere also recruited by determined Twitter users. 

The tweet that went viral

The tweet that went viral

 “I really think it shows the power of people wanting to see stories that are women-centered, women of color-centered that are made by women of color,” DuVernay told TIME last month. “I think it was really interesting that after Rihanna and Lupita were in the picture and the story went viral, it wasn’t about who’s the male lead or who’s the sidekick, it was about who’s going to write it? Who’s going to direct it?”

“I think that is really interesting about people’s interest in who’s creating and who’s telling the story and especially on Twitter where everyone is telling their own story,” she continued. “We’ll see what happens.”  Needless to say, everyone is pretty excited.  

According to Vanity Fair, "the original twitter users who imagined the concept for this film will be credited and included in some form."

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Vanessa Williams Leads New VH1 Original Scripted Series Inspired by Star Jones

According to Shadow and Act, VH1's new scripted series "Daytime Divas" premieres on the network on June 5, 2017 at 9/8c. 

Inspired by the book "Satan’s Sisters... A Novel of Fiction" by Star Jones, the synopsis for "Daytime Divas" reads: Every weekday at noon, Maxine (Vanessa Williams), Mo (Tichina Arnold), Heather (Fiona Gubelmann), Kibby (Chloe Bridges), and Nina (Camille Guaty)—hosts of “The Lunch Hour,” the long-running women’s talk show—gather around the table to discuss life, love, politics, and juicy gossip. But behind the scenes, it’s even juicier — a backstage world filled with power struggles, diva fits, and steamy affairs. 

VH1 has premiered a first full trailer for the upcoming series  which you can watch below. 

'Can't Stop Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story' Trailer [VIDEO]

According to Shadow and Act, Live Nation Productions will release the feature documentary "Can't Stop Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story" exclusively on Apple Music on June 25, 2017, following its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. A first trailer for the upcoming documentary premiered during the Billboard Music Awards show on ABC and is now online. Check it out below: