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Q&A: Yandy Smith Talks New Label, Dealing With Mendeecees Being Locked Up And Jim Jones

Named one of Billboard Magazine’s Top 30 Executives under 30, there isn’t much Yandy Smith hasn’t achieved in her career. She has worked alongside some of the greats including LL Cool J, Missy Elliott and 50 Cent during her tenure in the music biz and is now about to embark on a new record label venture with fellow Love and Hip Hop NY cast member Rich Dollaz named Lenox Avenue Records.

The mother/ mogul started as one of the producers of Love and Hip Hop but joined the cast in season two as Jim Jones’ manager. The two have since parted ways after a fallout by the season's end. After the season four premiere of LHHNY made waves on Monday (Oct. 28), Yandy faces a new set of challenges: dealing with her fiancé Mendeecees Harris being held in custody under conspiracy charges and raising Mendeecees’ son Mendeecees Jr and their new baby Omere. VIBE caught up with her at the official screening to get the low-down on her burgeoning label, baby daddy issues and more.—Megan Saad

VIBE: You and Rich Dollaz are starting your own record label. Was this something that had been in the pipeline for a long time or was it a spur of the moment thing?
Yandy: Well I’ve been wanting to do a label for a very long time. When I had a baby I realized that the whole sitting in the studio, or going to the club getting DJs to play my records just wasn’t going to be my thing. I knew that was Rich's thing. He can find a great record, goes to the clubs and promotes music. Rich can knock on the DJs’ doors because he knows all of them; he’s done radio for years. So Rich has become the ying to my yang with this label. I can sit in an office and I can close the deals. I can make sure our bottom lines and our income is being generated. I’m great at that, so I think it was the perfect combination.

Last season everyone was shocked when Mendeecees was taken into custody straight after your engagement and new baby. What has been the hardest part about him being away for so long?
I think the hardest thing is him missing everything. He’s missing Omere’s birthday, he missed little Mendeecee’s birthday; even him seeing little steps that the kids are taking. But then also, I just miss my best friend. I speak to him on the phone all the time, I see him every other week but actually having him there to go through raising the boys and just doing the things we like to do.

In this episode we saw that little Mendeecees overheard you guys talking about his dad being in jail. How do you plan to break it to Omere when the time comes?
Hopefully I won’t have to break it to Omere. Hopefully his dad will be home before that even happens.

A lot of women wouldn’t stick around if they found out their man was about to get twenty years in jail. Are you prepared to stay in that worst case scenario?
The thing is when I said that, I was kind of speaking out of place. That was something that I was reading and listening to the blogs and trying to do research to find out conspiracy charges, you know, what are the time frames? But that’s absolutely not the case. I’ve gotten a lot more information now and hopefully he’ll be home soon.

Are you still in contact with Jim Jones?
No. I’m not, not at all.

Photo Credit: Getty

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The Game Reboot Lands At Paramount+ Streaming Service

A revival of the BET’s The Game is officially in development under the ViacomCBS digital subscription streaming service Paramount+, which was originally branded as CBS All Access.

The series reboot was announced on Tuesday (Sept. 15), along with a list of original and rebooted shows headed for the streaming outlet which includes a limited series chronicling the making of The Godfather, a new edition of VH1’s Behind the Music, and the true crime docuseries, The Real Criminal Minds. The programming will join CBS All Access’ list of more than 20,000 episodes and movies across BET, MTV, CBS, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Nickelodeon, and more.

Although no details have been released about The Game revival, the series will fall under BET’s Paramount+ programming from CBS Television Studios and Garment Productions. It’s unclear if any of the show's original cast members like, Tia Mowry, Pooch Hall, and Wendy Raquel Robinson, will be involved in the new installment.

The hit sports series was created by Mara Brock Akil, as a spinoff of her other hit sitcom, Girlfriends. Akil recently inked an overall deal with Netflix to develop new projects for the streamer. The company also acquired the rights to Girlfriends, Sister, Sister, Moesha, and The Parkers.

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50 Cent Developing Starz Series About Beef With The Game

Add a couple more credits to 50 Cent’s long list of TV projects. The rapper-turned-TV-producer inked a deal to develop two new series for Starz, one of which will explore his feud with The Game, the cable network announced on Monday (Sept. 14).

The seasonal anthology series tentatively titled, Moment in Time: The Massacre, chronicles “true stories in which iconic hip hop moments collided with the sensational and sometimes criminal events behind the scenes.” Season one focuses on the beef between Fif and Game that “led to an all-street war, pitting G-Unit against music impresario Jimmy Henchman.”

Henchman, The Game’s former manager, is currently serving life for the murder-for-hire of a G-Unit affiliate. Moment in Time will be written and executive produced by Abdul William, who penned The Bobby Brown Story, The New Edition Story, Lottery Ticket, and Lifetime’s forthcoming Salt-N-Pepa mini series.

Inspired by the life of sports agent and attorney Nicole Lynn, who serves as executive producer, the second series follows a Black female sports agent’s rise up the ranks in the male dominated industry of sports agents. Tash Grey will produce the series and pen the script. Grey’s notable credits include the Power spinoff Raising Kanan, Snowfall, P-Valley, and the true-crime drama, Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.

Both series will be executive produced by 50 Cent and his G-Unit Film & Television imprint.

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Netflix Acquires ‘Malcolm & Marie’ Starring Zendaya, John David Washington

Netflix has acquired the rights to the film Malcolm & Marie staring Zendaya and John David Washington in a $30 million deal during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The streaming giant beat out HBO, Amazon, Searchlight, Apple and MGM among others in a bidding war over the film, Deadline reports.

Shot on 35mm black and white film, Malcolm & Marie, tells the story of a filmmaker (portrayed by Washington) who returns home with his girlfriend after a celebrating the premiere of his latest movie. Things take a turn as revelations about the couple’s relationship rise to the surface, changing the mood of the evening.

Malcolm & Marie pic.twitter.com/99RWzgLFbD

— Zendaya (@Zendaya) July 8, 2020

Malcolm & Marie was written, directed and produced by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, who penned the script in less than a week. Aside from starring in the romantic drama, Zendaya and Washington serve as executive producers on the project.

“I am so grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my ‘Euphoria’ family, for coming together during such uncertain times,” Levinson said in a statement. “We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”

The film was shot amid the COVID-19 pandemic at a quarantine location in California in mid-June. Over the course of the two week shoot, heavy precautions were taken to ensure the health and safety of the cast and crew including social distancing, increased sanitary measures, and daily temperature checks.

Netflix’s acquisition of Malcolm & Marie follows an onslaught of TIFF films scooped up by  the company, with Halle Berry’s Bruised among the lot. The film marks Berry’s directorial debut and was sold to Netflix for a reported $20 million.

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