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We Need A Resolution: 15 Thoughts On Last Night's 'Scandal'

An emotional recap of episode 14 on ABC's 'Scandal'

Shonda Rhimes' ability to tap into people's consciousness at exactly the right moment is uncanny.

On Wednesday (March 4), the Department of Justice announced Darren Wilson would not face criminal charges in the shooting death of Mike Brown, leaving more salt in the wounds of Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown Sr. and all the black men and women dead at the hands of police brutality.

As powerful as it was, episode 14, titled "The Lawn Chair," hit too, too, close to home. Here, VIBE's staff reflects on the emotional roller coaster that was last night's Scandal.—Compiled by Shenequa Golding, Iyana Robertson, Datwon Thomas, Christine Imarenezor, Cook T.P. and Adelle Platon

1. Last night’s episode had everyone in their feelings. In between Kleenex breaks and fits of rage, the award-winning show brought the painful nostalgia from Ferguson to the small screen with the case of Brandon Parker, a black teenage boy fatally shot by police officer, Jeffrey Newton.

2. The first 20 minutes were almost too much. It felt like Shonda & Co. should have kept this episode in the stash for next season. The images and emotional portrayal inspired by #BlackLivesMatter mirrored an event still in motion. With racial tensions still heightened and the horror of Mike Brown’s death still etched into our hearts and minds, the disparities between the real story and Rhimes’ fictional version stirred up some initial pushback.

3. The questioning of Olivia Pope’s blackness was on point. Every week, viewers tune in to a black, female lead pushing the agenda of a white Republican president. Though “one of us,” the Head-Gladiator-in-Charge never really felt like one of us. Until last night–when it counted. But don’t expect her to go all “sista gurl” anytime soon.

4. Did y'all peep the grandmom in the protest group set off the drama with the "Good for you!" line when Clarence Parker sat in the chair the first time?

5. Jake's presence was not needed in this episode.

6. While we're here... The sideline plot involving First Lady Mellie's plan for vice presidency was a cool story, bro. But it's nice to see Fitz and 'em Bonnie and Clyde'ing the White House.

7. The on-screen activists' war cry of "Stand up! Fight back! No more black men under attack!" seemed like it was pulled from the Ferguson protestors' playbook. But as pop culture guru/ master livetweeter Luvvie wrote, "My edit to the chant on #Scandal would have been: “STAND UP. FIGHT BACK. NO MORE BLACK LIVES UNDER ATTACK.” B/c Black girls get killed too."

8. Courtney B. Vance nailed his character of Clarence Parker, an angry, protective, grief-ridden father, demanding justice. Hopefully, his role helped show that wherever one may stand on the race debate, all parents experience heart-pounding loss when they have to bury a child.

9. Let's talk about the lawn chair. The police allowing a dead body to be laid out on the street for two to three days is unrealistic, but the grand gesture is valid. As Clarence parked his lawn chair over his dead child's body, clutching a shot gun, he tells Liv that regardless of the circumstances, he would wind up either killed or jailed.

10. Last night's episode came to a head during the officer's monologue. Bearing a striking resemblance to Darren Wilson, officer Jeffrey Newton referred to Olivia Pope as "you people" (WTF?) and went on a rant peppered with entitlement, speaking about how black people aren't taught to respect themselves, or others, and that black people kill each other. The cop's tirade hurt because there are white men in law enforcement who believe this, despite the fact that white-on-white crime hovers at about 80 percent in the United States.

11. Twitter felt a way about including the officer's perspective altogether. Did Shonda need to portray the Ferguson-esque case fairly?

12. It’s a sad day when Fitzgerald Grant is braver than your actual president. In the most heartbreaking moment of the episode, Clarence is in awe as he walks through the White House, before sobbing in Fitz’s arms. Perhaps President Obama should have personally witnessed the agony of Mike Brown Sr. ...

13. The waterworks flowed when the final scene showed Brandon Parker being zipped up in a body bag. There was not enough time to unpack the on-screen tragedy before even attempting the series premiere of ABC's new thriller American Crime.

14. There has never been a more important episode of Scandal. Last night's episode showed how divided we are as a country, yet served justice for Brandon Parker when Gladiator associates Huck and Quinn learned a knife was planted under his body.

15. Thank you Shonda for showing us what justice should look like, but unfortunately, reality isn't so sweet.

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Joshua Blanchard

Studio Finds No Inappropriate Behavior In 'Rookie' Afton Williamson Allegation

Back in August, former "The Rookie" star Afton Williamson publically outlined claims of bullying, harassment and sexual assault against the head of the show's hair department. Taking to Instagram, the actress alleged Sally Nicole Ciganovich and guest star Demetrius Grosse as the culprits. However on Tuesday, (Sept. 17) Entertainment One released a statement stating after an investigation was conducted, there was no proof to any of Williamson's claims. Williamson, took to social media to blast the findings.

“It’s heartbreaking for everyone on that set, past, and present, and for every actor out there who stands in the face of harassment, discrimination, assault, and injustice,” Williamson wrote. “As a black woman, an artist, an actor, in 2019, my speaking the truth, standing up for myself, and leaving an unsafe work environment changed things for a lot of people: black women, artists, actors, victims, and survivors of injustice and discrimination.”

Demetrius Grosse’s attorney, Andrew Brettler, called Williamson's claim "completely meritless."

"My client was libeled all over the media before any of the claims could even be verified. No one should publish serious allegations like these in such a reckless manner. Demetrius lost multiple jobs as a result of being falsely accused. We’re glad that the investigation has been completed and are grateful to eOne for its unwavering support. Onward.”

In a separate statement, ABC expressed gratitude the investigation was over.

“We are glad that eOne has completed an investigation into allegations on the set of ‘The Rookie.’ We are confident that eOne takes these matters seriously and that they will continue to look for the best ways to surface concerns and address complaints.”

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'Hustlers' Inspiration Wishes Cardi B Portrayed Her Instead Of Jennifer Lopez

Critics and fans have fawned over Jennifer Lopez's strong performance in Hustlers but one important figure wasn't impressed.

Speaking to Vanity Fair Wednesday (Sept. 17), Samantha Barbash admitted she enjoyed parts of the film that were inspired by her life, but most of it–like many adaptions of real-life events–was fabricated. Barbash refused to give her film rights to the producers of the film, leaving them to rely on the infamous New York magazine feature for the screenplay.

Barbash and former friend Roselyn Keo were arrested in 2014 for allegedly drugging men and stealing upwards of $200,000 from them during their employment at Scores, a gentlemen's club in New York.

Barbash pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault, and grand larceny and served five years of probation. Keo took a plea deal in exchange for no jail time. The ladies reportedly indulged in the finer things in life with the money like cards and Hermes bags. The women have defended their actions after claiming the clients were beyond degrading in the club.

As Barbash watched the film with her family over the weekend, she was shocked at the inaccuracies. She tells the outlet that producers offered her "pennies" to be included in the film. She also says she never talked to Lopez about the role.

“I’m a businesswoman. J. Lo doesn’t work for free. Why would I? At the end of the day, I have bags that are worth more than what they wanted to pay me," she said. "She had my birthmark that I have. I used to have a piercing on the top of my lip. She had it on the bottom. She had a tattoo on her finger. I had it on my wrist.” But her mannerisms? No. I am nothing like that in person.”

The portrayal of her working relationship with Keo was also inaccurate, Barbash said. Social media posts of them partying together reflect a loving friendship but Barbash insists the film take on Keo (named Destiny and played by Constance Wu) was a lie. “She wasn’t a friend—she was a coworker.… There was no sisterhood—it was business and that’s it,” she said.

But the now-business owner praised Cardi B's performance. Although the rapper isn't in the majority of the film, Barbash wishes she was. “Her 10 minutes was a great 10 minutes…It’s funny because, when I first heard that the film was coming out, [my business partner] said [she wished] Cardi would have played me," she said. "Even though she is not an actress, she was in the strip club world and she gets it. She would have maybe played a better me. Not taking away from Jennifer. But just because Cardi was in the business.”

Hustlers proved to be a hit at the box office, grossing over $33 million in its opening weekend. Lopez has also received critical praise for her performance which could turn into nominations in the awards sector next year.

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Stanley Nelson Lays Bare The Complicated Cool Of Miles Davis

Miles Davis had it. Whatever it was, Miles Davis was the sole proprietor. The aura, skill, and style that oozed from Davis’ pores helped propel the trumpeter to stardom. His musical accomplishments were only made more striking by the swagger that garnished them. Davis’ cool, projected best on stage, was an unwavering confidence with a dollop of syrupy charisma. Even his voice, a sandpaper-like whisper, which came as a result of yelling after throat surgery, weaved its way into the mythological-like figure Davis became. To be frank, Miles Davis was a cool-ass motherfucker and he knew it.

Yet underneath Davis’ cool was a man equally tormented by the second-class citizenship his country forced on him, as well as his own personal demons. Standing up to the racist government sometimes proved easier than defeating his alcoholism and drug abuse. Those closest to Davis felt his venom whenever he bit, and graciously allowed their love for him to be a balm for the wounds he left. How could the same man who composed and performed Kind of Blue be responsible for the cruelty of those who loved him so?

Well, it’s complicated.

Director Stanley Nelson lays Miles Davis bare—his good, bad, and beautiful—to a new generation while crystalizing the jazz musician’s legend to longtime fans with Miles Davis: The Birth of Cool. Nelson’s latest demonstrates Davis' complexity and all that he endured.

Nelson invited VIBE to his 5,000-square-foot Harlem office to discuss Davis. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the nearly two-hour film, Nelson offers a firm handshake and an even stronger espresso. He apologizes for not having much sugar but makes up for it with a Wicker basket full of snacks that sits atop his white granite kitchen island. I opt for cookies and sneak the last bag of white cheddar popcorn for the train ride back to the office.

As we walk past the stainless steel appliances and through the dining room, the September sun shines bright through windows striking the white living room walls. Several books about Frederick Douglass are neatly stacked on the dining room table. Nelson reveals the writer and abolitionist will be the subject of his next feature, but for now, the 68-year-old director is entrenched in promotion for Miles Davis, an artist he says “transcends music.”

In between sips of tea, Nelson explains why Davis will always be a figure worth examing,

VIBE: What is your definition of cool? Stanley Nelson: I think the definition of cool changes with the times. I think cool is a certain calmness and being ahead of the times. It’s also a certain sophistication, I think Miles Davis had for so much of his life personified.

What do you think are some of the ingredients that go into making a Miles Davis? I don’t think there are very many people, across all genres, who can compare to Miles Davis. Miles Davis did what he did for five decades and was a leader in so many different movements in music and in jazz. Miles Davis transcends music.

What do you mean when you say "Miles Davis transcends music?" Miles Davis transcended the music because he was a leader in the way he looked, in the way he dressed, in things he demanded as you can see in the film. He demanded that he be treated with an amount of respect. The fact that he had black women on the covers of his albums, all those kinds of things made Miles Davis so different from so many other jazz musicians, who we love and admire for their music. We love and admire Miles Davis for his music, but it wasn’t just the music that made Miles Davis special.

Miles was also undeniably a beautiful looking man, and this was in the 50s and 60s. Miles Davis had very dark skin which was something that was not in the general public how it was thought of, so Miles kind of flipped that on its head.

This is going to sound like a dumb question but I have to ask it anyway. Why did you decide to honor Miles Davis with this film? There are a lot of reasons for making this film. There are a lot of reasons for making any film so whenever filmmakers tell you there’s only one reason they’re probably just lying, or saying whatever their publicist wants them to say. For one, his music is so incredible I would say he is easily one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, maybe the most important, you can argue that in any genre. Two, I’m a jazz lover and three Miles Davis is a very complicated individual so it makes for a better film. It’s not a simple story. I also think as we got into the film that Miles Davis’ story isn’t only about music, but it's about being a black person in the second half of the 20th century in the United States and I think that’s what makes the film work on a different level than a lot of other jazz films.

Veering off from Mr. Davis for a bit, how do you decide which topics or events you want to turn into films? You’ve done the black press, you’ve done a story about The Black Panthers, you did a story about Emmett Till. How do you choose which one to make into a film?

One of the great lessons for me was the first film I made called Two Dollars and A Dream. It was about Madame C.J. Walker and it took me seven years to make the film and I realize at that point films can take a long time to make, to raise the money and actually get the films made, so it's really important that the film be important to me, at least, that’s part of how I think about films when I think about what to do next. I’ve also been afforded the opportunity to paint on a big canvas so I’m trying to make stories that are big. I’m not just making small stories.

Did you always have this mentality of making big stories? I think so. I think part of that was unspoken, not really something I thought of. If you make something you want it to be a success, you want it to be a big success especially if it's going to take seven or 10 years of your life.

Why was Carl Lumbly the one you picked to voice Davis? Carl Lumbly is a great actor and he’s someone that I knew. Carl did the narration for one of our other films a long time ago, so Carl is someone I thought of. We sent him a bunch of tapes of Davis’ actual voice, and he practiced and we got back to him in a week and asked him to give us his Miles Davis voice over the phone and when he did, we were like, that’s good. It wasn’t perfect, but we could make it work.

What I personally loved about the film was that you didn’t glance over Miles Davis’ bitter personality. I loved the interviews with Frances Taylor, but it broke my heart that the creator of Kind of Blue forced his dancer wife to drop out of West Side Story. Miles was not an easy guy.

That’s putting it mildly. I think it was important that we tell that part of the story. I think what makes his story so rich and emotional there’s that dichotomy with Miles. The man that made some of the most beautiful music ever created and then was so rough for so many people. How do those things exist? Miles basically ruined Frances’ career by pulling her out of this show.

Yes! He was abusive to her, and after a few years they broke up. Her career had been ruined. I think one of the things that was so great for us while making the film was that Frances was so resilient and so beautiful and so funny in the film. You realize he tried but he couldn’t break her. I should say that Frances passed away Thanksgiving of last year. It was such a joy to be with Frances and interview her.

What do you hope people who don’t know Miles Davis will take away from the film and what do you hope people who do know Miles Davis will learn? One of the challenges of making any film, especially a film about Miles Davis, some people come in thinking there’s everything to know about Miles Davis. Some people come in and say "Miles who? Why’d you drag me to the theater?" You’ve got to walk that line and tell everybody something new and also be entertaining.

My mission in this film is partly to entertain. I don’t care how much you know about Miles. If you walk into this film and it’s two hours long you’re going to learn something new, or it’s going to be told to you in a different way. Certainly you’ve never been exposed to Frances. Just being exposed to Frances in and of itself is a trip. Part of the job is to entertain and frankly, that’s what we’re trying to do.

Miles Davis: The Birth of Cool is in select theaters. Click here

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