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Marc Lamont Hill Talks Donald Trump, Cop Killings, #BLM & Taking VH1 'Live!' With New TV Show

The highly opinionated author, journalist, and activist will host his very own weekly talk show VH1 Live!, set to debut this Sunday (July 17), at 10 p.m. EST.

Marc Lamont Hill lets out an incredulous laugh that blaringly slices through a cacophony of background noise. The highly opinionated author, journalist, activist and host of his very own weekly talk show VH1 Live!, set to debut this Sunday (July 17), at 10 p.m. EST, is literally a man on the run. He is attempting to conduct a phone interview while maneuvering his way through the clutter and controlled chaos of a New York airport. In just minutes, Hill will board a flight to Cleveland, ground zero for the Republican National Convention’s official coronation of bombastic GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. So it goes without saying that in these unpredictable, up-is-down times where a reality show star can effortlessly hijack a legitimate political party, there’s not much that can shock the professional talking head.

That is except for Hill’s recent appearance on a CNN panel this past Monday (July 11) to discuss the galvanizing police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as well as the shocking shooting deaths of five law enforcement officers in Dallas. “The first thing I said was, ‘You didn’t mean that, right?’” he recalls of the now infamous segment in which former NYPD detective Harry Houck boldly claimed that blacks were “prone to criminality.” A visibly disturbed and angered Hill was at a loss for words.

“I’m thinking am I on an episode of Punk'd? Is Ashton Kutcher about to run out on me?” he adds, trying to find some levity in an otherwise deadly serious subject. “And it’s not just that [Houck] was saying this…it’s that he thinks he’s right! He represents a sector of the American public that believes that black people are not full human beings; that we don’t deserve citizenship, rights, freedom or protection.”

Hill continues, “[Houck] sees me as different because I’m on CNN with him, but the only difference between me and the people he is demonizing is that I’m wearing a tie today. If I’m walking down the street in America there is no difference. These shootings that are happening are tragic. And I want them to stop. I want shootings by police and of police to stop.”

For over a decade, Hill has enjoyed a steady rise dating back to his early days as the earnest host of the syndicated TV show Our World with Black Enterprise. Today he stands as one of the most respected and uncompromising voices in the social and political arena. From the polarizing shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman and the controversial police-related deaths of Michael Brown (2014) and Freddie Gray (2015)—both sparking massive civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore—to the explosive birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, Hill has been at the center of it all, contributing his form of F-your-feelings, academically-informed perspective.

“When Mike Brown was killed by Darren Wilson, I think the world changed,” he explains when asked about the perfect storm of highly charged racial and ideological polarization; the instantaneous apex of social media; and the final term of President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief. “If you look at everything since Brown has died we have had a movement. I think that we can see the resistance on campuses to racism in the form of white privilege. You go Ferguson, Sanford, LA, Chicago, or Philly the Black Lives Matter movement hasn’t stopped. So for me it’s like we just have to keep going…keep working.”

And what of surreal political rise of Donald Trump? “You know how when you were a kid and your parents told you, ‘Hey, you keep playing with that you are going to poke somebody’s eye out?’ Hill breaks down of the brazen billionaire. “The end result is Donald Trump. The Republican Party was fine with playing to the cheap seats and cultivating racism among poor whites. They kept doing all the stuff that leads to this, right?”

Hill says the GOP now finds itself face to face with its own Frankenstein monster. “All of a sudden it’s like, ‘Oh sh-t…we lost control of the party.’ They kept talking about gay rights, Mexicans taking jobs and irresponsible poor black people. In the age of Obama, they kept ginning up this hateful sentiment that at some point became the dominant message of the Republican Party.”

The 37-year-old Philadelphia native boasts the kind of annoyingly impeccable credentials that has helped make him a prime target of the conservative media machine (in 2009, Hill was reportedly “fired” from his thankless side gig as Fox News’ liberal commentator for what officials viewed as Hill’s reputation for being too passionate as a critic of police misconduct). Of course, when you are infectiously confident, young, handsome, black, with a PHD in anthropology and a distinguished professor of African-American studies at the historically black university Morehouse College, you are bound to ruffle some feathers.

For his part, Hill welcomes the heavy expectations—and hate—that comes with such a high profile position. “I’m humbled to have this platform,” he says. “It’s like one day you are on Twitter and you wake up with 250,000 followers. People have come to respect and appreciate, if nothing else, the honesty of my voice. They know that I’m going to say what I think, and I’m not always going to be right, but I will try to give the best analysts that I can.”

Which is why Hill’s venture into the more light-hearted, and at times absurd pop culture world is eyebrow-raising. He envisions VH1 Live! as the ultimate cross-pollination party where he can chat with everyone from Love & Hip Hop New York’s animated breakout star Cardi B (“I find her fascinating,” he says of his fellow VH1 notable) and pop siren Rihanna to newly-signed Golden State Warriors star and unlikely NBA villain Kevin Durant.

But while many viewers may see the BET news correspondent and HuffPost Live host as punching below his serious-minded weight, Hill says his VH1 Live!, which is being produced by Embassy Row studios—the company behind Andy Cohen’s influential Bravo staple Watch What Happens Live—should not come as a shock to the folks who have paid attention to his varied career. “In my personal life, I’m a reality TV show junkie, and I’m always on Twitter,” he proudly admits. “I’m a music head because I started out as a rap journalist reviewing albums for Pop Matters. So if I’m going to have a TV show, I want it to cover a range of stuff that I’m into.”

Hill then flashes his hip-hop head card and gushes, “When I heard Joe Budden make that diss record about Drake, I didn’t have to do any research. I already knew the history. I want to know what’s going on with [Love & Hip Hop’s] Joseline and Stevie J. I want to talk to Hillary Clinton. All of that sh-t matters to me.”

And what would he ask the Democratic Presidential nominee? “Why should we trust you?” quickly answers Hill, who is dropping his fourth book Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond on August 2nd. “And tell Trump to come through…I’ll be nice [laughs].”

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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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'Boomerang' Episode 7 Recap: Family Matters And Pride

Bryson and Simone are a thing, like for real for real. They can’t keep their hands (or tongues) off of one another. As the two of them get steamy in the jacuzzi, a sexually riled up Simone tells her new beau that she wants to treat his face like a bean bag. They are in it, y’all. There’s just one problem — they may be half-brother and sister (insert vomit emoji here). The excitement of finally landing the girl of his dreams is shut down when he reveals that his mother, Jacqueline, informed him that Marcus Graham may be his papa. (Wait. Does that mean Marcus cheated on Angela back in the day? Regardless, what a way to ruin a mood.)

As they wait for the DNA test results, Simone and Bryson still try to be business as usual, you know, chillin’ like they used to. Speaking of business, Bryson is all that. Ari may be his boy and all, but when it comes to directing Tia’s music video, Bryson wants an Italian dude to shoot it instead. He just doesn’t believe Ari can execute. All great directors have vision and through Bryson’s eyes, Ari has none. Simone can’t help but agree. It’s obvious that Tia and her bae are not at all pleased with the video production of her single. Bro gotsta go. Tia has never been one to hold back and in a fit of frustration, she does what Simone couldn’t verbalize; she fires Ari.

Like the “big bad boss” he is, Bryson harshly tells Ari that not only will he basically fail at being a producer, but people will notice that he doesn’t belong here. Hold up. Are we sure Bryson and Ari are friends? Tough love is understandable but to completely obliterate the dreams of someone you’ve been rocking with? That’s foul. Unlike Ari, Bryson knows that he was brought up with the keys and basically helped himself to whatever role he wanted in the industry, a luxury he can afford to extend. Why not help your friend out now even with a little guidance knowing his career aspirations?

Bryson may be able to but Simone is not willing to give up on Ari just yet. She lets Ari collaborate Bryson’s pick, Shayan, who is also seemingly having a hard time capturing dope shots. A conversation with Simone about perfecting his craft leaves Ari somewhat disappointed but open to the constructive criticism.

While enjoying the Atlanta Black Pride festivities, an old filing recognizes Ari and waves him down. In catching up, the discussion quickly takes a turn to sexual orientation labels with a judgemental tone and Ari is not having it. Sure, while he was with her, he liked women but sometimes he’d rather be with a man. “Bisexual,” “Gay,” call it whatever, he just likes who he likes, refuses to be put in a box, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is not about to happen is him being judged by a woman with five kids and three baby favas. Yikes.

That frustration instantly births inspiration. Instead of dryly shooting Tia performing with Pride weekend just happening around her, Ari points out how the world needs to see all black people not caring about what anyone has to say about them, especially when the world includes women rocking $12 jewelry. Sashayers, milly-rockers, and twerkers galore, the video shines on the culture, highlighting Kings and Queens of all shades, ages, genders, and sexualities. It’s a good time. Even Bryson can give up his props and that lead director credit to Ari. You see, Bryson? You gotta have a little faith like David always has.

Speaking of our fave pastor, unlike many Baptist churches, it’s amazing to see that David embraces and participates in the Atlanta Black Pride weekend. With the help of Crystal, David is preaching a message of loving who you are and loving others. His sermon last week no doubt spoke to the soul but if you recall, Crystal did notice that a lovely lady attended the service moreso for David and less so for Jesus. That obviously triggered something. Crystal and David may not have been able to work out their marriage but the attraction is absolutely still there. Could it be one-sided though?

You didn’t think we forgot about Bryson and Simone, did you? It should be noted that for his entire life, all Bryson ever wanted was to be like Marcus Graham, but not like this. David is right: be careful what you pray for. No matter the outcome of the paternity test, Simone and Bryson will undoubtedly be in one another’s life (maybe less like Whitley and Dwayne and more like Denise and Theo).

Well, folks, the results are in (insert Maury voice). In the case of Bryson J. Broyer, Marcus, you are NOT the father! But, you may still have some ‘splaining to do. Now that they are officially not related, Simone can finally go ahead and have that seat. We know, sis has been tired all day. Ow!

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Kevin Hart Debuts Trailer For Netflix Comedy Special 'Irresponsible'

Kevin Hart's latest comedy special, Kevin Hart: Irresponsible, is set to stream on Netflix for all to see. The one-hour stand-up, which was filmed before 15,000 people at the O2 Arena in London, England, will be Hart's fifth comedy special to hit the streaming site.

Piggybacking off of the recent scandals and mayhem, this special will focus on the 39-year-old's friends, family, travel, and a year full of antics that made him "irresponsible."

April 2nd people.....MARK YOUR CALENDARS DAMN IT!!!!! Let’s gooooooooo #ComedicRockStarShit #Irresponsible #Netflix

A post shared by Kevin Hart (@kevinhart4real) on Mar 21, 2019 at 7:38am PDT

The stand-up's taping derives from his most recent tour through North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia which kicked off in March 2018, according to Rolling Stone. The special will be available on Netflix on April 2.

The last time Hart was a trending topic was for past tweets that were deemed homophobic and resulted in him canceling his hosting position at the Oscars. Maybe his content will include this unfortunate situation.

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