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'American Soul' Episode 4 Recap: Don, You In Danger, Boo

In this week’s episode, Don Cornelius tries to book an act on his own, JT is having a hard time, and a famed attorney makes a cameo.

We couldn’t help but focus on the men of American Soul during Episode 4.

The ladies are good, for the most part: Tessa found her footing, literally and figuratively, finally showing Flo and the Soul Train gang she ain’t nothin’ to play with on the dance floor, and checking Don for taking out his frustration on her with mixed messages and disrespect. Simone is still getting away with using a fake ID to chase her singing dreams in a jazz club and has emerged as a Soul Train fan favorite.

But the men are having a tough time.

JT avoided getting pinched for his role in the robbery and police shooting – but only because Chris (Trey Best) made sure the crime was pinned on someone else. Now we maybe understand why Benny (Kristopher Charles) was tearing up after giving info to the police last episode. He knew he was basically writing a death certificate. Chris has now told JT he won’t get any money from the heist, so all the stress and drama was for naught. Now his family’s finally being evicted. Just as it seems he can buy a little bit more time, Mr. Willard pushes JT past the breaking point with a comment about his mom’s “million-dollar mouth.” We knew this was coming; people been talking to JT crazy for 3 episodes now. JT knocks him out, and the family seeks shelter from Ma Mable (Elizabeth Omilami) in a storage room at the diner. JT wants to hide this from Simone and Kendall, even against Ma Mable’s grandmotherly advice, “Don’t lie to the people you love.”

Simone’s on a mission to save up enough money for Encore to cut a demo and gives JT the pooled cash to hold onto. She knows his mama’s a drug addict, why would she do that? We’ll bet $96 - the amount Simone passed to JT - that the money’s gone next episode. Also possibly gone next episode? JT’s mama. Soon he may have to cut her loose so he doesn’t drown along with her.

Kendall is still figuring out who he is in the absence of his father. Possibly still sorting his guilt for avoiding his father’s fate in the service, he’s trying patriotism on for size, hanging a gigantic American flag in his room. Simone reminds him their mom would not want it in the house, but he insists – to his sister’s amusement – that since he’s the “man of the house,” it’s his call. He’s also still juggling responsible fatherhood with chasing his dreams, bringing his son with him to an emergency show rehearsal. Our real worry, however, is that Flo now has Kendall in her sights. Kendall clearly isn’t a virgin, but Flo’s on another level. Pulling celebrities, locking people in rooms to get a look, on a make it by any means necessary level. Kendall’s not ready. Our hero (anti-hero?), Don, is going through it. He’s still not landing big enough acts for the show, and his primary sponsor is threatening to pull out. He’s taking it out on Tessa, the only other person working as hard on the show as he is, and she’s fed up. Motown, which moved to LA right before Soul Train, has shut him out because he was “difficult” with Gladys.

Don rolls through Club 100 Proof hoping he can again grab an act through Gerald, but Gerald makes it clear that the new BFF free trial period is over. “(The) first taste is hospitality, brotha,” he says. “Now you gotta pay to eat.” Eventually, the two businessmen come to a gentlemen’s agreement: Gerald will help Don land marquee acts for a 5% cut of the business. But what Don doesn’t know (that we do), is that Gerald is a for real gangster. Like killing people and then standing up to his gangster boss’ crew, gangster. Don, you in danger, boo.

Before settling on an arrangement with Gerald, Don tries one more time to land an act on his own. Following a tip that Ron Isley is performing at an NAACP fundraiser, Don crashes the event and runs into Motown’s Ilsa Dejarrnette (Shannon Kane). Isla and Don bond over a little coke (what’s a couple of lines between social acquaintances?) and Ilsa offers to help him navigate the black bourgeoisie and make an introduction to Diana Ross (Michelle Williams), who showed up in place of Isley.  Don, ever anxious and determined to do things his own way, charms Ross by knowing she sang Ray Charles’ “The Night Time is the Right Time” when she first auditioned for Berry Gordy. Diana, of course, is way too big of a star for a fledgling show, and she tells Don as much. Now, Don must get into Dejarnette’s good graces to get an in with Motown acts. Sounds like a scandalous tryst is on the horizon.

What this episode got right: Soul Train dancers indeed got paid in fried chicken. Members of the Soul Train Gang weren’t compensated, but there was free KFC on set every show taping for lunch.

What it could have done without: Johnnie Cochran showing up as the attorney for Dexter Brown might be a bit much. We appreciate incorporating black figures that we know and will recognize, and highlighting their backstory (Cochran made his name representing black victims in highly publicized police brutality cases), but the intersecting moments can feel forced.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a record label’s legal representative is all up in lounges and parties, having final say on who performs where, and schmoozing with artists. Even at an everyone-wears-multiple-hats label like Motown. Ilsa is most likely based on long-time Motown senior executive Suzanne De Passe, but De Passe worked on all aspects of creative and artist development.

What we don’t understand: Why there wasn’t more of Janelle Monae’s Wondaland artist Roman GianArthur as Ernie Isley.

This wasn’t the strongest episode so far, but it was a necessary plot builder. Episode 5 looks lit, though. (Come through K. Michelle!)

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Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

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Netflix Gives Sneak Peek Of Jay-Z Produced Western ‘The Harder They Fall’

Netflix gave a preview of the streaming giant's upcoming films on Tuesday (Jan. 12). Among them, the highly anticipated western, The Harder They Fall.

Produced by Jay Z and written and directed by musician Jeymes Samuel, the film stars Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Lakeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz and Woody McClain.

The Harder They Fall follows the fictional character, Nat Love (Majors), as he seeks revenge on the man who murdered his parents. Besides signing on as a producer, Hov also created original music for the film.

The Covid-19 pandemic delayed filming, which began in March of last year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Filming resumed in September but was paused again after one of the actors tested positive for coronavirus.

“What I love about movies is that they can make you feel every emotion,” King says in the Netflix teaser.

“And show you something you’ve never seen before,” adds Majors while clips from their film plays on the screen.

The Harder They Fall is one of 27 films headed to Netflix. See more in the video below.

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— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) January 12, 2021

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Issa Rae Announces ‘Insecure’ Will End After Season 5

Insecure will return this year for a fifth and final season, Issa Rae revealed on Wednesday (Jan. 13). In a statement to Deadline, Rae and executive producer Prentice Penny showed gratitude to HBO and fans of the show.

“Prentice and I are so grateful that HBO believed in our show from the beginning and kept the faith in us to see our vision through the end,” said Rae.“We always planned to tell this story through five seasons, but we couldn’t have made it this far without the tremendous support of our audience. I feel blessed beyond measure to bring our characters’ stories to an end, on-screen at least.”

HBO’s Programming EVP Amy Gravitt, noted that Rae has “turned insecurity into an iconic form of comedy.”

Based off the 36-year-old’s popular Awkward Black Girl YouTube series, lnsecure was created by Rae and Larry Wilmore. The series premiered on HBO in 2016.

Season five will reportedly begin filming later this month with Rae, Yvonne Orji, Jay Ellis, Natasha Rothwell and Amanda Seales all expected to return. The previous season ended with Rae’s character at yet another crossroads with her on-again-off-again boyfriend, Lawrence (played by Ellis).

Season five of Insecure debuts later this year.

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