american soul bet recap episode 6 season 1
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American Soul Recap Season 1, Ep 6: What Are You Looking At?

Finally! The SOUL.

After a few heavy episodes, there’s lighter energy in this episode of American Soul - and honestly, the show needed it. Finally, some of the elements we loved most about Soul Train are showcased. The moment we’ve been waiting for happens at last: seeing one of Soul Train’s legendary Afro Sheen commercials. George Johnson (founder and owner of Afro Sheen’s parent company) is back for the first time since the series started to counsel Don on ad creative instead of Brooks. Raven Goodwin brought brightness to the increasingly contentious vibe in the Soul Train Gang as newcomer and aspiring dancer Violet. The Soul Train Scramble Board is in effect. A reporter from Right On! magazine, the preeminent black teen entertainment periodical and early supporter of the show, is on the scene. And Wayne Brady delivered a hilarious – and spot-on – turn as Little Richard; the best use of the celebrity cameos on the show since Bobby Brown’s appearance as Rufus Johnson.

The American Soul characters are feeling more unencumbered, too. The combination of finally hitting a stride with talent for the show, and hitting something else regularly with Ilsa Dejarnette has Don at ease and smiling. Even his normal complaints and criticisms of Tessa’s choices come with a smirk. Dick Clarke requests a sit down with Don and George and offers to buy Soul Train, confirming the show’s potential and value to Don. But we were wrong about Ilsa – we thought she’d be upset once Don had to turn some attention back to his family, but Ms. Dejarnette is very busy and Don learned the hard way when he showed up at her house unannounced. How are you the married one, and you get played, Don?

Simone Clarke is ready to turn up for her 18th birthday and makes plans for JT to come see her gig at the jazz club. He doesn’t show, but her acting teacher, Professor Haygood (Brad James), does. Let’s go back for a minute to American Soul’s premiere, when Tessa dropped in on a Grease rehearsal to scout dancers. Professor Haygood told Tessa that Simone was almost as good as she used to be, and Tessa replied, “Be careful, she might actually believe the dreams that you sell.” We know there’s a Svengali-figure in Tessa’s past who derailed her career ambitions. Haygood might be the one.

Now, he’s telling Simone how talented she is, that he has “a producer friend,” that she should give NY a shot…and Simone is completely seduced by the praise. Somebody send baby girl a Lauryn Hill album so she can get her mind right, please.

Kendall Clarke has way too much dip on his chip and gets it smacked clean off by his mama. Kendall is convinced Private Barker is trying to take his father’s place and charges at him in the kitchen (why would this boy think he could take on a whole soldier?). After Nate almost swings on everybody in a PTSD-triggered response, Kendall asks Brianne “what the hell” she was thinking to bring him into the house. Brianne later admits that having the young (and fine) soldier around makes her feel like Joseph Clarke is still present. Kendall gives her an ultimatum: have him out of the house by the time he and Simone return from the Soul Train bus tour, or he’s moving out. Kendall ain’t got no money to make financially-related threats, but whatever. Nate packs his things to leave and confesses his personal sins to Brianna. She wants him to stay and admits she has sins of her own. Is a Brianna backstory on the way?

Tessa is feeling herself, too. She’s regained her confidence and is no longer shaken by Don’s tantrums. She catches Flo and the Soul Train Gang running scam auditions in the parking lot for $5 a pop. After observing them insulting the confident, full-bodied Violet, Tessa offers the young woman a gig as her assistant. When torment from the gang continues on the set, Tessa sends Violet to wardrobe and makeup and puts her on the Soul Train line. Violet reminds Tessa of her childhood self being teased about her weight before finding confidence through dance. When Don complains about the waste of time and money since Violet’s trip down the line won’t be used in the final show edit, Tessa tells him “remembering who I am, remembering that I have a dream, and doing everything possible to make that dream come true” is worth it, and quits. Then she goes to eat fried chicken, greens, potato salad and apple pie with Violet.

Gerald is Gerald-ing on 100 this episode. Things are lit at the club for the Muhammad Ali/ Buster Mathis fight party – even Farrah Fawcett is in the house – and he stands to hit a massive payday if Ali wins. He outsmarts his big boss’ attempt to teach him a lesson (the lesson = killing him), delivers a Gerald-style beat down (which comes with car trunk accommodations), and proves himself valuable as the crime organization’s top earner, ensuring safety from another power struggle with his boss - for now. He’s got to keep generating revenue in new ways and asks Don for an office at Soul Train. Don is no stranger to shady dealings but has no idea what his silent partner is really about. Anybody who says they brought Memphis with them to L.A. is not to be played with.

What this episode got right: When Soul Train started beating American Bandstand’s ratings in major urban markets, Dick Clarke did attempt to buy the show. When Don refused, Clarke launched his own, short-lived, low sodium, fat-free, gluten-free imitation of Soul Train, called Soul Unlimited.

What it could have done without: The PTSD moments with Private Barker -  the disturbing music, the flashbacks – are starting to feel overused.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That the host and owner of a live entertainment show intentionally brought a reporter with him into some celebrity mess. Or that Right On!, which focused on The Jackson Five and teen-centered acts in its early years, cared about what Little Richard was doing.

What we don’t understand: How Don went from struggling to poppin’ in two episodes, with no clear explanation. Are we to assume it’s a combination of his partnership with Gerald plus his relationship with Ilsa?

There are four episodes left in this season, and we’re curious to see where American Soul takes the various storylines. This isn’t a fast-moving show, but it’s ambitious in the story-telling. That combination makes for a challenging season back-end. Based on previews, episode 7 may be the first without a celebrity cameo, so it will also be interesting to see how American Soul adds an extra oomph without that element.

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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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