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'Soul Train' Comes Home: Episode 7 Recap

Things feel like they’re moving more quickly on American Soul as the Soul Train nears its destination for the season.

The Soul Train Gang are at the tail end of a successful bus tour, with Brooks as a chaperone in Tessa’s absence. (Are Brooks and Tessa the only two people who work at Soul Train - well, now just Brooks? There’s not another black woman - black person - in the company?) Having Brooks with the kids in a random southern town is the one time we’ve felt he could be useful - but nope. He does nothing to even attempt diffusing the racial tension sparked by Fresh hitting on a young white woman (is he crazy?) and Kendall using the bathroom against the gas station owner’s warning (we already know Kendall has a habit of feeling himself at inopportune times). The bus pulls off as local men gather to have a little chat with Fresh, leaving the Clarke siblings to fend for themselves.

Simone and Kendall happen upon Nick, a peace and love-spreading musician, who not only offers them a ride as far as he’s going but suggests they pick up a gig so the two can earn bus fare to get to Chicago.

The unlikely music trio pop into a honky-tonk bar — complete with ten-gallon hats on the patrons, jump in with the house band — and win the crowd over with Motown and Donny Hathaway classics. Yay, racism is solved through good music! Post-gig, Nick leans in to tell Simone that she could be a star. Professor Haygood will probably get a call to set up a meeting with his producer-friend in the next episode.

Don heads to Chicago to spend the holidays with his family and meet the Soul Train Gang for the end-of-tour promo and taping. Don hasn’t seen his wife since the first episode of Soul Train, so the number one item on his agenda is giving Delores some much-needed lovin’. He also surprises her with the newest thing in communication technology: an answering machine. Now he can leave lovey-dovey messages when she’s not home. Next, he checks in with the owner of Soul Train’s local Chicago station, WGN. Soul Train continued as a local daily show in Chicago while the weekly version launched nationally from L.A. Now that the national show’s a hit, WGN threatens to sue Don for 25% of the profits, and he doesn’t know if he can fight them. Delores gives him a pep-talk (while doing a terrible job corn-rowing his hair), reminding him that he is Soul Train – the brand doesn’t exist without Don Cornelius. Now owning his leverage, Don spreads the word to advertisers that he’s going to walk away from the local Chicago Soul Train broadcast, prompting them, in turn, to pull their money. Check-mate, for now.

Dick Clark is still coming for Soul Train, so Don needs to hold on to that self-assurance and confidence - especially since Delores ain’t gonna be up to giving another pep-talk anytime soon. As Don is packing to head back to L.A., his wife confronts him with the latest issue of Right On! Magazine and a featurette about his relationship with Ilsa. In response, Don leaves, even as Delores warns him, “If you walk about that door you are choosing Soul Train over this family!”

Back in L.A., JT has an unexpected visit from detective Patrick Lorraine. JT thought the robbery was behind him, but his car places him at the crime scene. He ain’t no snitch, though! He’s willing to take a charge on the chin, which is stupid. Reggie’s displayed his lack of loyalty, and JT didn’t even get his rent money from the robbery! Patrick knows JT isn’t the person responsible and brings a surprise guest into the interrogation room – JT’s father (Sean Baker). After a scared-straight conversation, JT still isn’t willing to give Reggie up, but the police brass wants to let the whole thing go. It wouldn’t look good if the public learned an innocent man — the man Reggie set up to take the fall — died in police custody. They give Patrick a promotion and a pat on the head to play along, and Patrick lets JT go, but not before painting a bullseye on his back by thanking him in front of Reggie. Damn, Patrick. We thought you were down!

As the Soul Train Gang closes out the tour, Simone and Flo each have moments of self-awareness. Flo realizes individual people are more important than the exposure from the show, which has always been her focus. She unknowingly saves the day – and possibly a life – by showing some love and attention to a jilted fan just as he’s about to pull a gun on his ex. She then admits to Kendall that she likes him, which may lead to even more annoying antics from Kendall in the future, but for now, we’ll be happy for him; He needed a win. Simone embraces her star-power, basking in the adoration of her Chicago fans to the point where even Flo tells her to calm down. Kendall, meanwhile, warns his sister to stop lying about her gigs and her age, because “You don’t want to become that person.” Oh, that’s already in progress, Kendall.

What the episode got right: Racial tension in the immediate post-Jim Crow South. Also, the Reverend Al Green’s magnificent look in the old show clip Don and Phil were watching at WGN.

What we could have done without: Another awkward father/son moment between Don and Tony. We get it; Don was a largely absent and emotionally distant father. But sometimes it feels like Tony Cornelius – the executive producer of American Soul – is using the show to work out some issues with his dad, and we’re not sure what the takeaway from these moments is supposed to be.

What we don’t believe: The entire honky-tonk bar scene. Kendall and Simone just left a gas station where black people couldn’t use the bathroom, but two black kids could walk right in the front door of a country bar and hop on stage with the house band? And the house band knew “This Christmas”? Come on, now. The black staff jamming in the back of the house was on point, though. They were so happy to finally hear something they liked!

What we have questions about: The Soul Train tour’s routing. Nick has Nevada license plates and mentions getting robbed in Wichita, Kansas. It would make sense for the Soul Train Gang to be in the Midwest, having originally started in L.A. and heading to Chicago for the last stop. But Nick and the Clarkes play a gig in McClean, which is in Virginia. What kinda roundabout…?

We hope this quicker pace continues for the last few episodes of American Soul. There’s still a lot of ground to cover! We don’t know if any new celebrity guests are on the horizon, but Mama Clarke (Kelly Price) is getting her groove on next episode. We’ll be on time for that!

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Eunetta T. Boone, TV Producer, Writer And ‘One On One’ Creator, Dead At 63

Eunetta T. Boone, veteran television producer and writer, creator of sitcoms One on One and Cuts, and showrunner of Raven’s Home, died Wednesday (March 20), Deadline reports.

Boone died of an apparent hear attack in her home. She was 63.

Boone’s long list of writing, production and story-editing credits include Living Single, My Wife and Kids, The Hughleys, The Parent ‘Hood, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Lush Life, the latter of which co-starred Fresh Prince actress Karyn Parsons. Boone also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and wrote the film Who Is Doris Payne? about the infamous elderly jewel thief.

Last November, Boone signed on as showrunner and executive producer of the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven spinoff, Raven’s Home. Production on the sitcom has been shut down for the rest of the week in wake of Boone's death. Series star Raven Symone posted a tribute to Boone on Instagram Thursday (March 21).

“My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone,” she wrote. “Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.”

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My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone. Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.

A post shared by Raven-Symoné (@ravensymone) on Mar 21, 2019 at 2:41pm PDT

The Disney Channel released a statement praising Boone for her storytelling and leadership. “She did so well what she enjoyed most — mentoring creative talent,” the network said in a statement, per The Wrap. “Eunetta will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew her. All of us at Disney Channel grieve her passing and send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Boone earned a journalism degree from the University of Maryland, and a Masters from Columba University. She began her career as a sports writer in Baltimore, and became the first black women to cover sports in the city, as well as one of a few black women sports writers in the nation to work for a major outlet.

See more dedications to Boone below and watch the video above for some of her writing tips.

Eunetta Boone. One of our vets. You have seen her work on television comedies from “My Wife and Kids” and “The Hughleys” to “One on One” and “Living Single.” She worked as a screenwriting instructor at UCLA Extension in between gigs. Rest well, sweet lady. Thanks for the laughs. pic.twitter.com/741tpIL4a5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 21, 2019

She was a few of the black female showrunners during the 80’s & 90’s..once The UPN network shut down it was hard to get a show on the air..#RIP & thanks for your creativity.. Eunetta T. Boone Dies: ‘One On One’ Creator, ‘Raven’s Home’ Showrunner https://t.co/6zTGyEmJGR

— Loni Love (@LoniLove) March 21, 2019

Eunetta was a pioneer in the entertainment industry. https://t.co/YakqIdOkV5

— Shaun Robinson (@shaunrobinson) March 21, 2019

RIP Eunetta T. Boone. pic.twitter.com/yjo1BP3Jfh

— The Black List (@theblcklst) March 21, 2019

My cousin Eunetta T. Boone created the shows "One on One" and "Cuts" and was the first person to welcome me to LA and showed me Hollywood! She was such a good person and genuine soul. Smh. #RIPEunetta

— DJ Steph Floss (@djstephfloss) March 21, 2019

I'm very sad to learn about the passing of Eunetta Boone. When @JohnDBeckTV and I were on our very first writing staff (The Hughleys), Eunetta went out of her way to teach us how to behave in room. I don't think she would call herself a mentor, but I will.

— Ron Hart (@Scatter) March 21, 2019

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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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