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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Towanda Braxton explains ‘open and front door’ marriage

( Some “Braxton Family Values” fans aren’t sure what to think about Towanda Braxton’s marital arrangement, and she doesn’t seem too certain about what’s going on either.

( “We have an open and front door situation,” Towanda told Wendy Williams about her marriage to Andre Carter.

“BFV” viewers have tuned in for four seasons and seen the couple struggle to stay together. When asked if the two were on good footing now, Towanda said, “It’s on a foot.”

She also addressed rumors about her rumored romance with former “Real Housewives of Atlanta” hubby Kordell Stewart, the ex-husband of Porsha Williams.

“We’re friends. We never did all that,” she said, refuting that the two have been physical. “He’s a great dad.”
As for her and Andre, Towanda said their arrangement works both ways, but she didn’t share whether or not either has stepped out with other lovers.

“I have to be honest, if he does, I don’t know about it,” said Towanda who isn’t sure where Andre would find the time. “He’s home with the kids a lot.”

As for Trina, she said things with her and hubby Gabe Solis haven’t changed much.

“We’ve been square-dancing for a lot of years now,” she said. “We’re concentrating on being good parents right now,” she said. “Our kids come first.”

When will the sisters say good-bye to “Braxton Family Values”? Watch. “BFV” returns to WE tv August 14.

Richard Pryor Jr. Threatens To Sue Stepmom Over Dad’s Biopic

( Earlier this month, we told you that some of Richard Pryor’s children were opposed to Nick Cannon playing their dad in the upcoming Lee Daniels-directed biopic. In our report, we also revealed that the children of the deceased comedian were at odds with their stepmother, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who is heavily involved in the production of the film.

Interestingly, Richard Jr. later changed his stance regarding Nick playing his dad in the film. As for what triggered his change of heart, Richard Jr. said:

“His passion. His commitment. It takes more than a comedian to play that part. It takes an actor. Anyone can do stand-up, but the movie is not about a stand-up comedian. It’s not about what he did on stage, it’s about his life.”

But despite changing his mind regarding who should play his dad, apparently, things are getting more intense, as Richard Pryor Jr. is reportedly threatening to drag his stepmom to court if she proceeds with the project. According to TMZ, Richard Jr. has already sent a cease and desist letter to Jennifer demanding that she put a stop to production of the film immediately. In the letter, he accuses the widow of practicing “illegal, fraudulent” activity to obtain movie rights.

Richard Jr.’s lawyer says that Richard Sr. was in poor mental and physical health when he signed over those rights to Jennifer back in 2005. He passed away in December of that year. We will continue to keep you posted as this story develops. We have a feeling Jennifer isn’t going down without a fight.

Jada Pinkett Smith Shares How Sexual Assault Affected Her Family

( Jada Pinkett Smith says the issue of sexual assault hits close to home.

The actress recently shared how her 20-year-old niece was sexually assaulted while out drinking with friends, reports PEOPLE. "She's 20 years old – thank God nothing happened because she was with some responsible guys that took care of her," shared Pinkett Smith while promoting her upcoming new series Gotham at the Fox's TCA.

The 42-year-old went on to explain that her niece's friends realized she had been drugged after she said, "Oh, my god, I can't feel my…" and then started to lose consciousness. In an effort to educate her own daughter on the issue, Pinkett Smith had her niece share her experience with Willow and a couple of her friends.

"It's one thing to sit with me as her mother: It's like 'Okay, Mom, yeah, I get that.' But when you have your 20-year-old cousin that comes in, and she's like, 'This is what happened,' and it was somebody you looked up to as well, it's like, 'Oh, man, this is really real.'"

As a mother, Pinkett Smith feels the best way she can empower her daughter to prevail against becoming a victim is by encouraging her individuality. "When you allow a person to be an individual and you allow a person to have power within and have confidence with who they are, she'll never have to look in the eyes of a man and question whether it's a 'yes' or a 'no' – she's going to be very clear," she said.
The incident also helped Pinkett Smith vow to speak up for victims of sexual assault. "There is an epidemic going on out here in regards to the treatment of women," she said. "We have to figure out how we can empower people in different ways."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Montell Jordan, Hi-Five, Rick James, More Slated for Upcoming Season of 'Unsung'

( It looks like the upcoming season of TV One’s hit music docu-series Unsung will be a good one!

Premiering on July 30, the 10-episode season will explore the careers of Montell Jordan, Hi Five, Rick James, along with The Emotions, Martha Wash, Troop, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Wilson Pickett, The Chi-Lites, and Peaches & Herb.

“As an intimate portrait of the lives of some of music’s most captivating artist, Unsung remains a celebration of their impact on both the recording industry and culture alike,” said D’Angela Proctor, SVP of Programming and Production for TV One.  “By illuminating the stories of trials and triumphs in the upcoming slate, the legend of these iconic musicians will be sure to grow within the hearts and memories of our audience.”

Tune in on July 30 at 8PM/ET on TV One to watch the premiere episode featuring “This Is How We Do It” singer Montell Jordan. Check out the full schedule below:

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 8PM/ET – Montell Jordan
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13, 8PM/ET – The Emotions
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20, 8PM/ET – Martha Wash
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 8PM/ET – Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 8PM/ET – Wilson Pickett
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 8PM/ET – Peaches & Herb

Kelly Rowland Is Doing Yoga and Cardio to Stay Fit During Her Pregnancy

( If you follow Kelly Rowland on Instagram, you know she's not letting her pregnancy get in the way of her healthy lifestyle. The 33-year-old has posted photos of her and her belly bump in the gym doing meditation, yoga, and more.

PEOPLE caught up with her trainer Jeanette Jenkins to find out exactly how the mommy-to-be plans to stay in shape over the next few months.

“We work out Monday through Friday, but we just keep it at a moderate level,” said Jenkins. “We stay within her doctor’s guidelines and work out anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour so it’s not anything exorbitant.”

Jenkins added that they stick to cardio, yoga, and light weight training.

“Her number one concern is just to be healthy for her baby,” added Jenkins. “She’s going to be the most incredible mom.”

As for the former X-Factor judge's signature abs? “We’ll make sure she gets those sexy abs back as soon as the baby comes out!” joked Jenkins.

Tika Sumpter Dishes onHer Success in Hollywood; Who She’d Like to Play in Biopic

( Tika Sumpter paved her way in Hollywood after years of supporting roles in soap operas, movies and TV series.

Now she stars as bad girl Candace Young on “The Haves and Have Nots,” but getting to where she is today, she played nice.

Sumpter dishes to Essence for the magazine’s August issue about being a hard-working Hollywood actress while rocking the hottest denim fashions for fall.

The journey of Sumpter getting where she is today took much hard work (along with her nice personality)
“I used to work at a movie theater and sold hams at Honey Baked Ham during the holidays. I sold a ton of hams, and they offered me a regular job there, which I turned down,” she said.

She continued with, “I feel like anything you do, just do it 100% because then that work ethic will bleed through when it’s time to work on your dreams. I was working in customer service and had a verbally abusive boss. One day I decided to quit and pursue my acting passion with everything I had. One week after quitting I booked ‘One Life to Live.’”

Sumpter is definitely one of the hardest working actresses in Hollywood, but loving her job is how she handles the hectic schedule best.

“It’s hectic. It’s fun, but it’s mostly just work, work, and work. Everybody’s like, “Oh, do you joke around on set?” I mean, sometimes, but our schedule is so strenuous on that show, so we work really hard and have to just move, but it’s great,” she said.

She added, “I watch Tyler [Perry]. I watch Oprah [Winfrey]. All the people on her team are dream builders, and they believe in other people’s dreams. I feel like this is a home where I feel safe to expand my dreams because these are people who are accessible. They scraped their way to the top. They worked really hard, and they support other people in their camps who want to go beyond just what is right now.”
But when she does get time off, maybe she’ll get to venture into playing a historically significant, real-life black woman.

“There’s so many amazing black women with stories to tell. It can go anywhere from a musician like Whitney Houston to Sojourner Truth. That would be a really good movie…just called ‘Truth.’”
For more on Sumpter’s key to success, check out Essence‘s August issue.

Why actresses like Viola Davis are turning to television

( It has become increasingly common for actors to talk about migrating from movies to television because the roles (not to mention the stability of the work) are better.

For female actresses like Diane Kruger (“The Bridge”), television offers opportunities to play parts that are “so well-written and unafraid,” in contrast to the shrinking opportunities in film. For established stars like Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, longtime friends and collaborators who starred in the first season of “True Detective,” television can be a chance to deepen a commitment to characters and to try something new with old partners.

But even given this conversation, Viola Davis’s comments about why she was returning to television as the lead in “How to Get Away With Murder,” a new ABC series, were a sharp shot at what the movies have to offer even the best, most beloved African American actresses.

“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show,” Viola Davis said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles. “It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party only to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show.”

It was a striking admission from an actress who has been twice nominated for Academy Awards: for “Doubt,” where she played a mother whose son may be the object of clergy sexual abuse, and “The Help,” in which she was a domestic worker who finds her voice as a writer. Davis has two Tony Awards and three Drama Desk Awards for her stage performances.

But despite these accomplishments, she said she wanted more out of the characters she was given.

“I spent too much time in my career just trying to force writers to write for me in a way that was bold,” she told critics.

Davis thanked Pete Norwalk, the creator of  “How to Get Away With Murder,” for giving her a role that allowed her to be alternately commanding, personally messy and sexual. As a law professor whose ruthless attitude (and catchy course title) have perhaps too much of an influence on her students, Davis gets to chew scenery in flashy classroom sequences, display her professional acumen in the courtroom and balance a husband and a lover.

Davis has been blunt before about her career prospects, even at times when she might appear to be at the top of her game. “I’m a 46-year-old black woman who really doesn’t look like Halle Berry, and Halle Berry is having a hard time,” Davis mused in a roundtable of Oscar-nominated actresses from 2012, when she was in contention for “The Help.”

Despite some of the challenges she has faced, she seems unlikely to quit film for television entirely. She has four upcoming movies either complete or in production, including the high-concept romantic comedy “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” the James Brown biopic “Get On Up” and the revenge drama “Lila and Eve,” in which she co-stars with Jennifer Lopez.

“How to Get Away With Murder” may give Davis range, but it’s also more a pulpy pleasure than a prestige project. Its most significant impact on Davis’s career may be as counterexample or bargaining chip whenever someone offers her a thinly written or marginal movie role. If filmmakers do not believe that Davis can sell a sex scene or command a room, going forward, that ignorance will be on them, not on her.