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Method Man Teams Up With James Corden For "Drop The Mic" Series

Will you be watching?

Primetime television is peppered with music competition shows. Drop the Mic, a rap battle rivalry program slated to debut Oct. 26 on TBS, hopes to differentiate itself with a strong comedic element — courtesy of executive producer James Corden, on whose Late Late Show bit the new series is based — and a credible hardcore rhymer, Method Man.

The prolific Wu-Tang Clan MC, a.k.a. Cliff Smith, will serve as judge (along with model Hailey Baldwin) each week as four notables from the worlds of entertainment, music, sports, and/or pop culture face off and a winner is determined by a studio audience.

It’s the latest screen play for the rapper. Method Man, who had roles in HBO's The Wire and Oz and appeared in the 2015 film Trainwreck, said at the Television Critics Association (TCA) he believes “it’s all entertainment. I can do this role and still do me. Snoop Dogg does anything, everything. You can’t even identify Snoop as a rapper anymore.” (Among other roles, Snoop stars alongside Martha Stewart in VH1’s Potluck Dinner.)

In fact, Method Man said he got his early inspiration from the small screen: The Electric Company and Sesame Street, to be specific. “I didn’t get into Grandmaster Flash or those dudes until later on,” he noted. “And my first hip-hop song I learned every word to was Run-D.M.C. “I could’ve gone in any direction, but I chose to hang around guys who liked to rap and smoke marijuana.”

Real-life rap battles can elevate to an aggressive place, but that's not the intention with Drop the Mic. “I don’t think it is a mean-spirited thing,” Corden said at TCA. “If you watch a roast on television, it’s really just a monologue of disses, and someone sits there and takes it. The beauty of this is, the attitude of the two hosts is one of absolute joy and fun. If you come at it with joy and fun, and someone has an opportunity to respond, it’s never felt mean-spirited in the episodes we’ve shot.”

Carpool Karaoke: The Series, created from another of Corden’s popular late-night staples, premieres on CBS next Tuesday, Aug. 8. Corden said Drop the Mic was a similar primetime pitch. “When we’ve got the numbers — when you go on YouTube [and] go, ‘Look, people really like this. This is how many views it’s had. This is how many people have written about it’ — it’s easier for the network to understand it than if we were to just go in and pitch a [new concept] show.”

The concept for Drop the Mic sparked in May 2016 as a fun-jab faceoff between Corden and Anne Hathaway on his show that garnered 6 million YouTube views in 18 hours. David Schwimmer, who was slated to be a guest a few days later, phoned to say he wanted to try his hand at a rap battle. “We never normally do the same bit twice in the same week,” Corden said. “He sent in a load of lyrics about me, and I said, ‘Right. It’s on…' We knew there was a series in it.”

While the show creators acknowledge that rapping in front of Method Man could give some guests stage fright, the rapper said he’s primarily there to encourage. The producers “suggested, ‘Why don’t you just drop by each guest room and give them a little heads up you’ll be there,’ ” he said. “That’s the best thing I could’ve done. By the time they get on stage, they know I have their back.”

This article was originally published on Billboard.

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Daniel Kaluuya And Lakeith Stanfield To Star In Fred Hampton Movie

Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are reportedly being considered for roles in the upcoming film, Jesus Was My Homeboy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie, which will be produced by Ryan Coogler and distributed by Warner Bros., will depict the assassination of Black Panther activist Fred Hampton.

If the ink dries on the deal, Kaluuya will play Hampton. Stanfield will play William O’Neal, the FBI informant who went undercover and infiltrated the Black Panthers in order to obtain information that assisted in Hampton's assassination. Jesus Was My Homeboy will look at the rise and death of Hampton through the perspective of FBI informant O'Neal.

As previously noted, Fred Hampton was an activist and organizer of the Black Panther Party who quickly climbed the ranks to become its chairman of the Illinois chapter and deputy chairman. He was murdered in 1969 at the age of 21, by a tactical unit with orders from the FBI and Chicago Police Department.

Shaka King will reportedly direct the film and and produce from a script he wrote with Will Berson. Jesus Was My Homeboy does not have a release date at this time.

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HBO Releases 'Leaving Neverland' Trailer And March Premiere Date

Since the reveal of a contentious documentary on Michael Jackson was announced, the conversation surrounding HBO's upcoming project has continued to increase. Now, the powerhouse cable network unveiled the Leaving Neverland trailer which depicts the recollections of two men who were reportedly sexually abused when they were boys by Jackson.

Within the trailer, James Safechuck and Wade Robson discuss certain moments that they held as secrets for decades. "He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives," Wade says in the visual. The Dan Reed-directed film also features interviews with the two men's families and significant others.

In response to the doc's Sundance premiere, Jackson's family issued a statement calling out the reel's developers. "The creators of this film were not interested in the truth," the family's statement reads. "They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it's not fair, yet the media are perpetuating these stories."

Watch the trailer below ahead of its two-night premiere on March 3-4.

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Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
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'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “insane...in a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

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