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Exclusive: 'Power' Creator Courtney Kemp Says Charlie Murphy "Was A Fascinating Person"

"He was a really fascinating person so I walked away with gratitude for having known and met him."

When it was announced the Starz-scripted drama Power would return for a fourth and fifth season, writer, creator and show runner Courtney A. Kemp knew she had to up the ante. After an explosive third season, which resulted in the deaths of – spoiler alert – Holly, Enrique Lobos, Gregory Knox and the head of the Saldado nation Carlos Ruiz, it wouldn't hurt that while propelling the show's memorable characters further into the world of pushing powdered substances, a few new characters – unscrupulous or not – be added to the mix.

Back in February, it was announced Larenz Tate landed a recurring role as Jamaica, Queens city councilman, Rashad Tate, and just a month prior news of Charlie Murphy's addition to the cast as prison guard Marshall Williams was made public. Unfortunately, on April 12, tragedy struck when the beloved Brooklynite died from complications stemming from Leukemia.

VIBE caught up with Kemp to discuss working with the 57-year-old, whom she described as patient and present, and revealed what he imparted on her during their short time together.

VIBE: Why did you cast Charlie Murphy for Season Four of Power?
Courtney A. Kemp: For a lot of reasons, but first off Charlie is incredibly talented, was incredibly talented I should say, and the thing with most comedians is comedy comes out of intensity and honesty, so we knew that he would have that in his performance. Then we found out he was a fan of the show and when he came in and he talked about the show with such passion. Then it was just a question of talking to him about what we wanted to do [with his character.] The part is a dark part with a lot of humor. We wrote it specifically for him. There's going to be stuff that will make you laugh out loud from what he says, but it's the Power universe so it's not a comedy at all. It's dark but it's funny.

Did Charlie Murphy ad-lib or did he stick to the script?
He stayed on script. He had a couple of improv moments. The show really isn't improvised. We get the scripts out early enough to the actors so they can come up with stuff, and usually we'll add those things in the script by the time they actually perform. He didn't really improv. Maybe he did a little on set but not much.

What was his demeanor like?
He was very quiet and reserved, and always very prepared. Again, I love comedians. I tend to try and cast them on the show when I can. For example, Jim Norton plays Father Michael Callahan on the show, but comics tend to be when not on, pretty quiet. It's not unusual. It's not surprising. He was super prepared and just ready to go. He was also game. He had to do some stuff that was physically demanding and he was game for that. He was just a really prepared actor.

You know, comedians are on the road so much that when they're just getting to act and sit in one place, they're really grateful and just ready. One day he and I were on set and he sat by the monitor with me while we were setting up shop, and he was just interested in the process. In the time that we sat on set and talked, we really talked about more philosophical things. We talked about family. We talked about faith a little bit. We had some real conversations. He was really quiet and reserved and thoughtful.

What were some of his admirable characteristics that you noticed?
He was an incredible presence on set. You can't tell through the television of course, but anyone who saw him live [said] he had incredible presence. You were aware that you were with him in the room and he had a lot of patience. Set is long, it's very long with a lot of hours. He was very patient and present and those are two words I very rarely use, patient and present.

He also had a great stillness about him. But what I will say he left me with was this: I really liked him, I enjoyed him, I enjoyed talking to him. I was a fan, but a lot of times when you meet someone you're a fan of or you meet someone you admire you walk away disappointed. I was not. I was actually more impressed by him than I ever dreamed because he was so deeply interesting. He was a really fascinating person so I walked away with gratitude for having known and met him.

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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

— 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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