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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‘Chappelle’s Show’ Removed From Netflix At Dave Chappelle’s Request

Chappelle’s Show is no longer streaming on Netflix, at the request of Dave Chappelle. The comedian reached out to the company to ask them to remove the series, for which he received no residuals, and they quickly complied.

On Tuesday (Nov. 24), Chappelle’s posted an Instagram video from a recent stand-up show, called Unforgiven, where he further explained his reasoning for not wanting the Viacom/CBS-owned show to stream on Netflix. “[ViacomCBS] didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” he explained of the sketch comedy show. “But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either.

“That’s why I like working for Netflix,” he continued. “I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious. How could they not– how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better.”

Episodes of Chapelle's Show had been streaming on Netflix for about a month. While the showw has been wiped from the streaming outlet, episodes remain on Comedy Central, CBS All Access, and HBO Max.

Watch Chappelle’s full clip below.

 

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50 Cent, Joy Bryant, Nicholas Pinnock Talk New Season Of ABC's 'For Life'

Months after its debut, ABC's For Life has returned for a new season. Based on the true story of Isaac Wright Jr., a former-inmate-turned-lawyer, the drama series' protagonist, Aaron Wallace (Nicholas Pinnock), fights for his freedom and safety in and out of the courtroom while fighting for that of his fellow inmates. As Wallace inches closer to finding substantial evidence to exonerate himself, he reconnects with his ex-wife Marie (Joy Bryant) and pregnant teenage daughter Jasmine (Tyla Harris).

"When I met with Issac, I almost couldn't believe what he was saying to me. He went to jail, became a prison rep, came back created a case law through other people's cases, and worked his way out of jail?" said Curtis "50" Cent" Jackson in a recent interview with VIBE correspondent Jazzie Belle. "You know more people that saw things not going well [in prison] and said I'll take a bad situation before I take the worst situation and cop-out because they know the system will just wash them up and that will be the end of it."

The first season of For Life essentially covers the first 9 years of Wright's experience while in jail. This season, topics like Black Lives Matter and social justice are addressed and Wallace finally reenters society. "There are 5 different Aarons I'm playing," shared British actor Nicholas Pinnock. "One is Aaron who is the prison rep. One is Aaron who is the father and husband to Marie and Jas(mine). One is Aaron with the prison warden and his relationship with her. Another one is Aaron just as an ordinary prisoner. And then you have Aaron the lawyer...and then in Season 2, we have a sixth layer. There's Aaron on the outside."

An unspoken source of strength lies in Marie who has supported and served as a "ride or die" figure in the first season. When asked about addressing those who don't agree with her prior decision to move on to Wallace's friend, Bryant pointed out her character's humanness. "Marie had to make some hard choices when Aaron was sent away. They may not be things that people agree with. 'Oh, she's with his best friend' or whatever, but she was left holding the bag, literally," she pointed out. "Things aren't always so black and white. People have to make decisions based on where they are and what they feel they need to do at the time and everyone can have whatever opinion they want."

Watch VIBE's full interview with Bryant, Pinnock, and Jackson, who also co-executive produces the show. New episodes of For Life premieres Wednesdays at 10 pm ET on ABC.

Interview's music bed provided by Gus.

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‘Black Panther’ Sequel Will Reportedly Begin Filming In Atlanta Next Year

Filming on the highly anticipated sequel to Black Panther is set to begin next summer. Marvel Studios will start shooting the Ryan Coogler-directed sequel in July 2021, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“The series are the priority, “ a source told THR of Marvel’s film strategy going into next year. “Ramping them up takes a lot of focus. The movie machinery is well established.”

The shoot will last at least six months. Princess Shuri, the character played by Letitia Wright, who plays King T’Challa's sister Princess Shuri, could take on an expanded role given the death of Chadwick Boseman.

Narcos: Mexico actor Tenoch Huerta will reportedly join the cast, while Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Windsor Duke are also expected to return for the second installment of the Marvel film.

In September, Black Panther’s executive producer Victoria Alonso denied rumors that Boseman would appear in the film via CGI technology. “There's only one Chadwick, and he's not with us,” Alonso said. “Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to the story and what we do to honor this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, in reality.”

Boseman, 43, passed away from colon cancer in August.

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