black monday don cheadle episode 1
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'Black Monday' Is More Than The Black Wolf of Wall Street: Episode 1 Recap

It’d be natural to think, “Oh, that’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, just with Jheri curl activator spray.”

Describing Showtime’s dramedy Black Monday as the black Wolf of Wall Street is lazy, yet inevitable. The show, set in the year leading up to the global stock market crash on October 19th, 1987, centers on Maurice “Mo” Monroe (Don Cheadle) and his investment firm the Jammer Group featuring star trader Dawn Darcy (Regina Hall). The show is as much of an unflinching look into the institutionalized debauchery of Wall Street as Martin Scorsese’s 2013 masterpiece. Especially if the first 34 minutes of the series is any indication.

In the first episode ("365"), a body falls through the hood of a Lamborghini Limousine (aka “Lambo Limo”), Mo is gifted cocaine for his birthday, and a coworker flops an uncircumcised penis on Wall Street newcomer Blair Pfaff’s (Andrew Rannells) shoulder while he’s working. Once you see how the show’s comedic appeal is powered by Mo, an abhorrent, predatorial capitalist who will gladly starve a child to fatten his pocket, it’d be natural to think, “Oh, that’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, just with Jheri curl activator spray.”

You’d be terribly wrong.

The Misdirection of Black Monday

The most appealing part of Black Monday’s premiere episode is undoubtedly its use of misdirection. The Wolf Of Wall Street is fundamentally based on one character, Jordan Belfort. Black Monday starts off as if it’s going to hone in on the singular character who caused the Wall Street crash, but eventually reveals that the crash itself is the main character of the show. Each episode is named after a number between 1 - 365, with the premiere titled “365,” the first day, and the first puzzle piece, leading to the collapse. If you blink at the wrong time you could miss out on a clue as to who and/or what caused the collapse; an enthralling mystery element that Wolf of Wall Street never had.

Mo also tricks viewers into thinking he’s blinded by his arrogance, when in fact he’s highly cerebral and sensitive. There’s an almost catatonic gaze that washes over his face when he sees his former love interest, Dawn, with her husband Spencer (Kadeem Hardison) and when he recollects the moments before he put his plan to snag Blair in motion without knowing it’ll work. Those brief moments of believable vulnerability are expertly acted by Cheadle and makes him a much more nuanced and relatable character than DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort.

The Partners in Crime

The cast of characters in the series' premiere helps distinguish the show from being simply a Black Wolf of Wall Street as there is an almost intentional avoidance of any concentration on race. Mo may jokingly say he’s going to put the “brother” in Lehman Brothers and get his Jheri curls moistened in the middle of the office by his chauffeur, but that’s as deep as the premiere episode delves into race. The closest the episode came to addressing Mo being one of the few black faces in a sea of white men on Wall Street is when Mo’s hilariously enraged by a newspaper calling him “the Billy Ocean of Wall Street,” referencing the legendary Trinidadian-British R&B singer.

Dawn’s blackness is never addressed in the premiere, but her performance is one of the episode’s best. She’s the best trader in the Jammer Group, and while she is the most level headed of the group, she isn’t the moral compass keeping the frat house on course to always do the right thing. She’s mounting male coworkers to thrust into their imaginary breasts and squeezing her imaginary set of balls to intimidate. She smokes while she does cardio, likes to order “regular cocaine” during lunch, and has enough intriguing, and as of yet untapped, facets of her character to potentially carry entire episodes by herself. Which is more than we can say for the rest of the characters.

On paper, the episode and series are well cast with former nominees and winners of Screen Actor Guild Awards, Tony Awards, Golden Globes Awards. However, we don’t watch TV shows on paper. Jammer Group trader Keith (Paul Scheer), and all of his unfunny, crude one-liners and insecurities with balding is basically Scheer’s Andre Nowzick character from FX’s The League, just on Wall Street in the 1980s. Blair is built as not only the hotshot new kid on Wall Street with a game-changing algorithm but also as the most important character to possibly cause the eventual Black Monday crash. Yet, he is one of the most boring characters in the premiere due to how forgetful his parts are in comparison to powerhouses like Hall and Cheadle.

Black Monday is more than a black Wolf of Wall Street. It’s a thrilling coke binge we’ll all be strung out on weekly.

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A ‘Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air’ Reboot Is In Development

A Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot is officially in development and being shopped to streaming companies including Netflix, HBO Max and Peacocks, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The series will be a dramatic reimagining of the hit NBC sitcom, and is based off the viral trailer created by up-and-coming director, Morgan Cooper, last year.

Cooper’s Bel-Air, puts a dramatic spin on the story of Smith’s character’s move from West Philadelphia to the wealthy suburb of Bel-Air, Calif., where he lived with his Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil and cousins, Hilary, Ashley, Carlton and Nicky. The reboot has been in development for over a year and will be an hourlong drama, per THR.

Smith was so impressed with Cooper’s trailer that he flew to Miami to meet him last year. “I saw this trailer that Morgan Cooper hooked up. This is the first time that I’ve heard something and that I was like, ‘Yo, that’s an idea that is brilliant,” he said at the time.

Smith’s Westbrook Studios and Universal TV are behind the series revival. The original producers and creative team of Quincy Jones, Benny Medina, and Andy and Susan Horowitz, have reportedly signed on to executive produce the project.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starred Smith, Karyn Parsons, James Avery, Alfonso Ribiero, Tatyana M. Ali, and Daphne Maxwell Reid, the latter of whom replaced Janet Hubert as “Aunt Viv.”

The sitcom ran from 1990 until 1996.

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Watch Daniel Kaluuya As Fred Hampton In ‘Judas And The Black Messiah’ Trailer

Daniel Kaluuya transforms into Fred Hampton in the powerful new trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah. The nearly two-minute long clip shows Kaluyaa as the Black Panther Party leader delivering a powerful speech to a group of party members. Lakeith Stanfield, who portrays FBI informant William O’Neal, is also featured in the short teaser.

Directed by Chaka King and produced by Ryan Coogler, Judas and the Black Messiah tells the story of Hampton, who was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police in 1969, at the age of 21. Born in Chicago in 1948, Hampton mobilized a generation and became the Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP. Hampton was so influential, that the FBI conspired to silence his voice. O’Neal was hired by the FBI to infiltrate the BPP, and rose up the ranks to become a sergeant in arms within the Party.

O’Neal became so close to Hampton that he provided the FBI with the floor plan to his apartment to carry out the fatal raid in 1969. He befriended Hampton only to betray him in the end. The film explores that dynamic and O’Neal’s fear that his cover will be blown.

After Hampton’s death, O’Neal went into infamy. He passed away in 1990o of a reported suicide.

Judas and the Black Messiah is slated to open next year.

Watch the trailer below.

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Keke Palmer To Host 2020 MTV VMAs, Joins ‘Proud Family’ Reboot

Booked and busy! Keke Palmer will be hosting this year’s MTV VMAs, she announced on Thursday (Aug. 6). The 26-year-old actress made the big reveal with a creative throwback to her character True Jackson.

“I heard y’all was tired of 2020, let’s go back to 2008,” Palmer captioned a video conversation featuring a split screen of herself in character as Jackson.

I heard y’all was tired of 2020, let’s go back to 2008 😩🤪🤩. Join me as I host the 2020 @vmas on August 30th on @MTV! #VMAs pic.twitter.com/cl5TcUrxnm

— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) August 6, 2020

Also on Thursday, Disney announced that Palmer has joined the cast of the forthcoming reboot of The Proud Family. Palmer will voice a new character named Maya Leibowitz-Jenkins. “Dreams do come true,” she happily tweeted.

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder is slated to debut on Disney+ sometime soon. Show creator/executive producer, Bruce W. Smith and executive producer, Ralph Farquhar, are back on board, as well as original cast members, Kyla Pratt, Tommy Davidson, Paula Jai Parker, and Jo Marie Payton.

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ DREAMS COME TRUE! https://t.co/vgwmibrurS

— Keke Palmer (@KekePalmer) August 6, 2020

As for the 2020 VMAs, Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande top the nominees' list with nine nominations, followed by The Weeknd and Billie Eilish with eight nods each.

The show airs from Brookyln's Barclay's Center on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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