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HBCU Network Fights For Power

A mind or---as in this case---potentially a whole network of them is a terrible thing to waste, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Network CEO Curtis Symonds would have top-level Comcast execs realize.

After months and months of wrangling, talks for the first stand-alone, 24-7, 365-days a year sports, edutainment and lifestyle network devoted solely to HBCUs and the nation’s largest cable carrier have stalled amid growing concerns the seemingly all encompassing venture slated to launch during Black History Month 2012 may be passed over in favor of yet another purely entertainment channel.
“It just doesn’t add up,” said Symonds, a well-respected, livelong industry vet who counts once spearheading the campaign that helped increase BET’s home subscriber base from 18 to 65 million homes among his many accomplishments.
 
 “Here, you have entertainment channels like TV One and Centric already struggling for survival and you want to add another one at the expense of not only a historical, potentially industry-changing vehicle but one that also hits upon all the key criteria and demographics that all execs typically salivate over look” he added. “I mean, what’s the justification, or even logic for this?”
 
But trust and believe, Symonds, the brainchild behind the venture along with longtime senior associates Cadance Walker and Clint Evans, isn’t about to slither away easily. Not with demand and history both clearly on his side.
 
“As we’ve built out our platform and made our intentions clearer (the network has already signed licensing agreements with all four HBCU sports conferences to feature regular games as well as with Hollywood leading men Blair Underwood and Lou Gosset Jr to teach a ten-week course entitled “Celebrity Professor”) we’ve gained the support of HBCU students, parents, alumnus, presidents and administrators,” said Symonds. “We’re now calling on all those groups to make their voices heard by calling their carriers and expressing support. Our message to Comcast and all the other cable carriers should be ‘this is the will of the people, our people and the time for a vehicle such as this has more than come.’”
 
In addition, supporters can go the HBCUNetwork.com site and sign a petition of support. “There are times when we, as a people, have to stand up for the things we want and believe in,” said Symonds.“As a HBCU alum myself, I believe this is one of those times. We need to demonstrate to our young people the kind of nurturing, mentoring and educational opportunities available to them via the HBCU experience. -Glenn Minnis

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”

 

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#CardiB on why she decided to trademark “Okurr”

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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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