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Director Of Nina Simone Documentary Calls Zoe Saldana Film "Ugly and Inaccurate"

Jeff L. Lieberman, the director of the 2015 release The Amazing Nina Simone has spoken out about another underlying problem in upcoming biopic Nina. 

Nearly everyone has spoken about the upcoming biopic Nina and the decision to cast Zoe Saldana for the role, but for director Jeff L. Lieberman, the issue is deeper than skin color.

In a special op-ed for The Hollywood ReporterLieberman describes the film as an "ugly and inaccurate portrayal" of Ms. Simone's life. Liberman was one of three directors who have released a film about the legendary singer and activist in the past year.

His 2015 release 'The Amazing Nina Simone' was arguably overshadowed by Liz Garbus' What Happened, Miss Simone? which was recently nominated for an academy award.

Liberman was not only pleased with Nina, he also debunked claims BET founder Robert Johnson made to THR on the film's backlash becoming a "black people against black people" on Saldana's blackness. "For Mr. Johnson to now claim that this is black people against black people is outrageous, and a desperate distraction," he said. "People of all colors are angered because Hollywood has a long history of casting lighter-skinned actors, and even today with a black president in the Oval Office, the Oscars overlooking black actors, and the Black Lives Matter movement at its tipping point, dark-skinned people are still passed over, even for the role of a woman whose story is defined by her proud blackness."

Liberman didn't share much detail on Saldana's performance as Ms. Simone, but he refused to call her a victim in the backlash. The director points out the actress and rest of team behind the Cynthia Mort-directed project haven't admitted the differences in appearance and instead, have chosen to ignore it all together.

"The creators of Nina had the option to say, "Zoe Saldana is the best actor for the role and we believe in color-blind casting, and even though Nina Simone fought her whole life against being 'too black,' we still feel Ms. Saldana will embody Nina Simone beyond the physical," he explained. "They did not do that."

One of the biggest takeaways from his stance on the project is the questionable highlight of Simone's darker days in the 90's instead of her proudest days which were three decades earlier during the Civil Rights movement.

"Having worked within the Hollywood system for many years, I am aware that scandal and sensation sells. The recent Netflix-funded documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? also opted for a stronger focus on Ms. Simone’s illness and domestic abuse. My recent documentary film, The Amazing Nina Simone, does not shy away from these facts. In a painful moment, Nina's youngest brother and longtime band member, Sam Waymon, shares the heartbreaking moment when he had to institutionalize his sister. But these moments are there to answer long-held questions and are balanced by a much larger focus on the way most people know Ms. Simone: through her music. Ms. Simone had six other decades of phenomenal musical accomplishments and civil rights stands, and she became an international symbol of freedom, pride, and artistry. To overlook this is not only an insult to Ms. Simone’s very rich and complex life but a blatant whitewashing of her achievements as a black woman in 20th century America."

Biopics of the past have often shown a wider range of the respected artist's work like Ray (Ray Charles), Walk The Line (Johnny Cash) and Ali (Muhammad Ali.) The move can be taken as a typical Hollywood tactic, but it does bring forward another layer blocking the public from learning the true artist and legend Ms. Simone was.

Check out the rest of Liberman's piece here.

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XXXTentacion Documentary Trailer Released, Fans Mark One-Year Anniversary Of Rapper’s Death

Fans will soon get a behind-the-scenes looks at the life of XXXTentacion.  To commemorate the one-year anniversary of his death, the slain rapper’s estate announced a new documentary and forthcoming posthumous album, Spin reports.

The chilling documentary trailer released Tuesday (June 18), includes an eerie message from the Florida native born, Jahseh Dwayne Onfroy.

“There’s definitely a difference between Jahseh Onfroy and XXXTentacion,” he says in the clip. “This is the story, this is the full story. And this is the last time I will tell it.”

XXXTentacion’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard,  marked the somber anniversary by sharing a photo of their final phone call, which took place hours before he was shot and killed.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My hearts forever shattered 💔 6/18/18 last phone call.

A post shared by @ cleo_ohsojazzy on Jun 17, 2019 at 9:20pm PDT

Fans and fellow artists shared dedications to XXXTentacion on social media, and others flocked to the Florida  mausoleum where he’s buried.

One year ago 💔#LLJ #LLj🕊 #xxxtentacion pic.twitter.com/P6IT3sDGSu

— AssassinLord444🧛🏼‍♂️ (@AssassinLord44) June 17, 2019

tomorrow will mark the day , X life was taken from him. you miss you man.

I want to link up tomorrow @ a park in play music & smoke for jah ! if you in California! Pull up ! Let’s barbecue let’s have fun ! we miss you jah ! #xxxtentacion

— sincerely, tokyo 🎌 (@madeintyo) June 17, 2019

i can’t even begin to believe its been a year??? where the hell did time go? no, it can’t have been a year already😭 miss him so much. but i know he’s still with us. i really can feel it. his energy. his name will live FOREVER. also... here’s my fave edit... #xxxtentacion pic.twitter.com/DxC7dD2od9

— sabina!-🦋 (@fvcknxxx) June 18, 2019

The 20-year-old recording artist was gunned down in South Florida on June 18, 2018. Six months later, XXXTentacion’s estate released his third studio album, Skins. He went on to win a posthumous American Music Award and BET Award.

Watch the documentary trailer in the video above.

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Manhattan District Attorney Won't Reopen Linda Fairstein's Old Cases

After the release of Ava DuVernay's four-part series When They See Us, which chronicled the lives of five boys black and brown boys wrongfully convicted of raping a white female jogger, former New York prosecutor turned crime author Linda Fairstein merited the ire of all those who watched.

Fairstein stepped down from many positions including the board at Vassar College and Columbia Law school. However, supporters of the exonerated five--Raymond Santana, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, and Yusef Salaam,--demanded a magnifying glass be taken to all her old cases.

CNN reports the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance responded in a letter that he does not plan to reopen Fairstein's old cases. Fairstein acted as the chief over the sex crimes unit from 1976 to 2002.

"I do not intend to take either action at this time. Instead, I seek your help in publicizing to New Yorkers the availability of my Office's Conviction Integrity Program process," Vance wrote in a letter Friday.

After Vance revealed Fairstein's cases would remain as is, advocate Jumaane Williams said Vance is potentially denying innocent men and women a  second chance at life.

"Justice delayed is justice denied, but here, Cy Vance is even denying justice has been delayed. It shouldn't take another 30 years for us to find out why DA Vance refuses to correct these injustices of the past," Williams tweeted.

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'Surviving R. Kelly' Wins Best Doc At 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards

Viewers were glued to their screens at the beginning of the year when Lifetime debuted the jaw-dropping documentary series Surviving R. Kelly in January. It was no shock that series took home the award for Best Documentary at the 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards Monday night (June 17).

Executive producer Brie Miranda Bryant accepted the award with her other executive producers Tamra Simmons, Jesse Daniels, and Joel Karsberg. She was also joined on stage by survivors Asante McGee, Faith Rodgers, Lisa VanAllen, and Lizzette Martinez.

Bryant and her production team successfully raised attention to speculation of the sexual abuse and assault accusations of R&B artist R. Kelly, as 54 individuals shed light on their experiences and encounters with the shamed entertainer.

Her speech gave a little more insight as to what it took share such a chilling narrative. "Entire production teams assembled their shields to tell this story," she said. "Survivors walked through the fire and then stood again to tell this story, and parents shared the hell that they still stand in to tell this story." The documentary series averaged 2.1 million viewers during its three-day six-hour series.

At the Heart of Gold: Inside with USA Gymnastics Scandal, McQueen, Minding the Gap, and RBG, were among the other 2019 MTV Movie & TV Award documentary nominations. 

Kelly has plead not guilty to all charges.

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