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Category: Article about Aldis

Press: John Legend Renews Push To Save ‘Underground’ TV Series

FORBES – John Legend is publicly renewing his efforts to save Underground, the ground-breaking, recently-cancelled series that humanizes and tells the stories behind the Underground Railroad. A popular social media and ratings darling, Underground aired on WGN America until Sinclair Broadcast Group made a bid for Tribune Media three months ago. Meanwhile, as the potential merger of the two companies was reviewed by the FCC, the two-year-old drama was deep sized. The series told the not-told-enough stories of the people who tried mightily to help the enslaved escape to freedom in the north United States and in Canada. Legend is an executive producer.

 

Since the cancellation, fans have tried to persuade OWN, Netflix and other networks (or streaming services) to host the series, which clocks in at around $4.5-million an episode and was selected as an inaugural public program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. No network has bitten yet (that we know of) and Legend took to Twitter to distribute an open letter discussing his thoughts on the matter. He castigates Sinclair Media’s choices in programming, saying the “far right” network turned away from high quality scripted shows to “cheaper unscripted entertainment.”

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Press: Oscars woke up to ‘negligence’: 9 new Academy members praise diversity push

EW – Following two years of sharp criticism and back-to-back ceremonies with an all-white slate of acting nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts & Sciences has taken some big steps in 2017 toward including more women and people of color in the Oscars’ selection process. Last week, a record 774 new members from 57 countries around the world were asked to join the organization’s ranks. Of that group, 39 percent are women, and if all accept their invitation, the total number of female participants overall will jump from 27 percent to 28 percent; under similar circumstances, the freshman class of 2017 could also see the number of racial minorities in the 8,427-strong institution rise from 11 percent to 13 percent.

 

As the Academy heads into what could be its most inclusive annual cycle to date, EW chatted with nine new members about AMPAS’ ongoing push for racial and gender equality: actors Priyanka Chopra, Phylicia Rashad, Rinko Kikuchi, Aldis Hodge, Sanaa Lathan, Terry Crews, Colman Domingo, and Anna Deavere Smith, and Colombian filmmaker Patricia Cardoso — all of whom accepted their invitations. Read on to find out what they feel still needs to change about the Academy, the dangers of Oscar campaigning, how they think AMPAS has evolved in a post-#OscarsSoWhite arena, why Moonlight‘s historic best picture victory signals a changing of the guard, what the future holds for women in the Academy, and the potential impact their fellow invitees will have on 2018 Oscar voting (spoiler alert: Get Out and Wonder Woman should probably be on your early predictions list in multiple categories).

 

On the Academy’s evolving identity regarding racial and gender inclusion

 

ALDIS HODGE (Straight Outta Compton): The Academy has more power and influence than it really understands. Sometimes it sets the tone for how we’re received, culturally, all over the world. Even if they don’t understand the movies or the language, people pay attention to the Oscars all over the world. It looks like an example to follow when the Academy is saying, Hey look, this is not okay, and we have an entire population that isn’t being represented… The #OscarsSoWhite controversy opened their eyes to what was really going on. It wasn’t a targeted effort against women and people of color, but it was a naïve and neglected effort… When you say “diversity,” the term has been denigrated over the years, because it has been used as a crutch… you get into these executive offices and people say, Oh, we have this project, wait a minute guys, we need diversity, let’s choose a black actor for this, let’s choose a Hispanic actor for this, instead of saying, That’s not diverse, that’s just normal. That’s what makes up America… Diversity is giving people of color another label… that’s giving people of different gender and sexual preferences another label, another box that separates us from the majority.

 

The Academy woke up to their negligence and said, Look at all these gems we’ve been missing… That’s a systemic issue in the industry. In fact, I read a script the other day and I said no, I can’t do it because it was supposedly addressing police brutality, but the black character was written so very stereotypically. The police were written so sympathetically, where you didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong. Right now, this is a cultural issue where people are going off… I couldn’t even finish the script. I told them no… I couldn’t even take the meeting. We have a responsibility to represent the times well. There are a lot of people who have not experienced the reality that some other cultures have, so they’re going to continue to speak a different way… as an Academy that represents artists and the world, you do have to do the work, and right now the Academy is trying to do the work. So as long as they do the work, we’ll be able to do our work.

 

On the Academy’s responsibility to gender and racial representation

 

HODGE: If the Academy is going to be the hub of prestige for skills and the fine-tuning of your craft, we need all artists represented, so we need the Oscars to be the leader and the example in that way. They have a responsibility, as does every studio. You don’t just have one particular type of audience watching your work, shows, or films. That’s not to say every single project has to be wildly inclusive, because not every subject matter allows for that. Diversity, at its root, means different, right? Inclusion means including that which is already there. So for me, to include women and include cultures and people of different colors, that’s not diversity because it’s not different. This country is not built on one culture alone. We all make up this industry. If you look at the crews, the crews alone are so intermixed culturally, and these people, the crews, are the blood, sweat, and tears of the set… so when you think about who really contributes to keeping this machine going, you have a massive responsibility to represent these people.

Press: TV Insider’s Favorite TV Moments of 2017 … So Far

 

TV INSIDER: My Favorite Midseason Characters

 

This was a tough choice. I cherish Grace and Frankie, the endearing title characters of the Netflix comedy adroitly played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who with charm, humor and sincerity defy stereotypes of older women, their ambitions and friendships. In the end, however, it’s the population of Underground, the cruelly prematurely terminated drama series that ran on WGN America for two seasons that affected me deeply. The brilliantly acted show about the waning days of American slavery and the Underground Railroad that helped the enslaves escape to freedom, created real, relatable human beings whose well-being, passionate viewers (myself included) deeply cared about.

 

Most of the major characters had been—or were still enslaved—at the end of Season 2. A few were famous like the former slave turned abolitionist Harriet Tubman (masterfully portrayed by Aisha Hinds), most were not. Few were saintly, fewer monsters. Most were black, a few were white. Among the standouts: the determined and heroic escapee Rosalee (Journee Smollett-Bell) and her resourceful and tragic mother Ernestine (Amirah Van) and brave and sometimes foolhardy lover Noah (Aldis Hodge). I can’t fail to mention, the luminous Daniel (Bokeem Woodbine) blinded by his “owners,” for teaching slaves to read. Among the so-called “contraband’s” allies: the white abolitionist Elizabeth (Jessica De Gouw) moral growth impressed. But there was humanity to be found in the show’s villains as well: the collaborator Cato (Alano Miller)—whose rise, fall, and plotted rise again, never failed to fascinate—and the poor, downtrodden farmer August Pullman (Christopher Meloni) who turned slave catcher for both money and status.

 

I can only hope that another network will give these indelible characters life again. —Ileane Rudolph, Senior Writer

John Legend Breaks Silence Over ‘Underground’ Cancellation

ET – John Legend isn’t giving up on Underground.

 

The 38-year-old singer, who serves as an executive producer on the Civil War drama about the Underground Railroad, broke his silence Tuesday after WGN America canceled the series after two seasons.

 

In the second season, Legend appeared as abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

 

“Content wins,” Legend tweeted. “We’re not reliant on a particular network to make great content. We’re so proud of our show and the audience that supported!”

 

“Feel free to drop some hints to the networks/streaming services you want to pick up #Underground,” he continued. “Show them who will be watching!”

 

#RenewUnderground #Underground

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on

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Aldis Hodge On His ‘Honest,’ Protective Role In ‘Hidden Figures’

HUFFINGTON POST – The “Underground” star says the civil rights and feminist movements played an integral part in his role.

 

Aldis Hodge was determined to present an honest portrayal of the 1960s in “Hidden Figures.”

 

During a visit to AOL’s Build series on Thursday, the actor discussed his role as Levi Jackson, the husband of pioneering mathematician and former NASA aerospace engineer Mary Jackson (played by Janelle Monáe).

 

The film highlights the untold true story of three African-American women mathematicians who provided NASA with integral data during astronaut John Glenn’s historical orbit in 1962. Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star alongside Monáe as Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn, respectively.

 

Hodge’s character, a civil rights activist, juggles between his apprehension of supporting Mary’s efforts to pursue a career as a black engineer in addition to criticizing her work-life balance for her absence in their family’s household.

 

During the interview, Hodge explained how he drew upon Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same title to prepare for the role.

 

“I tried to play up the honesty of his legacy just off the fact that he was a very kind natured soul, as a family man,” he said. “He supported his wife – supported her in a very avant-garde way given the time frame. This is the 60s, so I loved what he represented and what they represented. So I was just trying to give some truth to that and made sure I did him some justice.”

 

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‘Underground’ Season 2 teaser: First look!

 

SCREENER TV – The last time we checked in with WGN America’s “Underground,” Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) found a small taste of freedom and came face-to-face with a historical legend: Harriet Tubman (Aisha Hinds). It wasn’t easy making it as far as she did, and with Noah (Aldis Hodge) captured and Cato presumed dead, Season 1 set the events that will eventually unfold when the series returns.

 

And boy will those stakes be raised! Not only do we get a clearer picture of this iteration of Harriet Tubman, the above Season 2 teaser gives a mere glimpse of notorious slave catcher Patty Cannon (Sadie Stratton). The redhead in question led a gang of men who captured and sold free blacks into slavery. Needless to say, she is one of the most violent and amoral women from American history.

 

Another detail worth surmising here is that Cato (Alano Miller) is very much alive and it looks like he’s involved in some sort of fight ring. While Quentin Tarantino made up Mandingo fighting in “Django Unchained,” and the notion has been proven to be 100% fictional, we can’t help but wonder if something along those lines is what is going on here.

 

Heading back to rescue the remaining Macon 7, including her beau Noah, Rosalee will have a renewed sense of strength and purpose heading into the new season, for sure. But with the country divided and threats around every corner, something tells us the ongoing mission for freedom will pack a punch more dangerous than she previously faced — if that’s even possible. With Harriet Tubman on her side, though, chances of success look pretty good.

 

“Underground” Season 2 premieres Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on WGN America.

 

‘Underground’ Star Aldis Hodge Talks Time, Watches and the New Basil Time Piece

FORBES – If you haven’t been watching the WGN America television series Underground (with season 2 starting in March 2017), you may be missing something. The drama focuses on the lives of slaves and the Underground Railroad in Antebellum, GA. It does so with dignity and poise.

 

One of the key roles is that of Noah, played by actor Aldis Hodge. Born in North Carolina as Aldis Alexander Basil Hodge, the 30-year-old actor says the role has given him a new view of history. Hodge is also an avid watch lover, as well as an artist and soon-to-be creator of an all-new watch brand under the Basil Time Piece name.

 

Underground star, actor Aldis Hodge, is a watch collector, self-taught watchmaker, and head of Basil Time Piece. (Photo by Renwick Scott)

 

According to Hodge, Basil Time Piece is a boutique brand that will focus on haute horology. “We are going into production now of our first flagship model, but we will only be making small limited collections and special bespoke pieces,” explains Hodge, who is a collector of watches.

 
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Aldis Hodge on Working with Tom Cruise and His Love for Watchmaking

LA CONFIDENTIALThe mega-hot, multi-multi-hyphenated Aldis Hodge is grabbing the H’wood spotlight… one role at a time.

 

He’s an actor, painter, and… watchmaker? LA-based Aldis Hodge, 29, is gearing up for his biggest year yet. Starting at age three, Hodge first began as a model, and has built up his portfolio with a slate of primo roles—from Straight Outta Compton to the John Legend–produced TV series Underground. “Some call it luck, but, really, a lot of it is just hard work,” he says. And the A-list-ready actor is gaining momentum—up next he’s playing opposite Tom Cruise in October’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. “Tom knows how to pull the best out of people,” says Hodge, who is currently filming Hidden Figures with an all-star cast including Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner.

 

The self-proclaimed “gypsy” was homeless for a period of time and lived in several states before settling in LA. “When I tell people I was homeless, it’s to inspire them,” Hodge says. “Even in the worst situations, you smile because that means you have more strength to push forward.” And push forward he did. Through a college course, Hodge discovered his passion for watchmaking. “Art has always been there for me,” says the “actor-preneur,” who is currently working with a luxury Swiss watchmaker to manufacture his hand-designed timepieces. “[All my work] is a step to whatever the big picture is,” he says. “I’m just excited to see what lies ahead.”

‘Underground’ Featured at The NAACP’s 107th Annual Convention

NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks and “Underground” Stars Aldis Hodge, Alano Miller and Amirah Vann and Creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski to Co-Host the President’s Reception, Monday, July 18

 

Underground Railroad Escape Series Set for First-Ever Screening at the Renowned National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in the Harriet Tubman Theater

 

“Underground” Stars to Host the NAACP ACT-SO Awards, Sunday, July 17

 

BROADCASTING CABLE – Los Angeles, July 12, 2016 — WGN America’s acclaimed series “Underground,” which follows a courageous group of American heroes who attempt a daring flight to freedom from slavery, has teamed with the 107th NAACP Annual Convention, July 17-18 in Cincinnati, Ohio. “Underground” creators, writers and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and stars Aldis Hodge, Alano Miller and Amirah Vann, will co-host NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks’ reception for more than 1,500 NAACP convention delegates, where the cast will be featured speakers at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. Preceding the reception at 4:30 p.m., the cast and creators will participate in a red carpet screening of the Underground Railroad escape series for the first time at the Freedom Center’s Harriet Tubman Theater, and reunite with Freedom Center President Dr. Clarence G. Newsome for a moderated discussion, a follow up to their joint panel at The White House earlier this year.

 

The “Underground” stars will also host the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) Awards Ceremony highlighting more than 1,000 best and brightest students from around the nation who have risen to become finalists after competing against thousands of other high school students in a year-long achievement program. “Underground” cast members Hodge, Vann and Miller, a previous ACT-SO award winner, will present the awards to be streamed live on ACT-SO’s YouTube Channel on Sunday, July 17 at 12:30 p.m. at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

 

Produced by Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, “Underground” took the country by storm this year, sparking a nationwide conversation and igniting Twitter as the #1 most social cable drama each week it aired. The series trended worldwide on the same day the U.S. Treasury Department announced Harriet Tubman would replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, a move applauded by the cast and creative team who have traveled the country speaking about the Underground Railroad’s relevance to today.

 

From executive producer John Legend and creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, “Underground” tells the unflinching story of some of America’s most heroic freedom fighters—slaves who risked their lives to reach freedom. The first season of “Underground” delivered 3 million Total Viewers weekly, and made history as WGN America’s most-watched original program ever. Season two will begin production this summer for a 2017 debut.

 

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Janelle Monae says film on black women at NASA key part of history

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CTVNEWS – NEW ORLEANS — Janelle Monae says she’s honoured to be part of an upcoming film that tells the little known-story of three black women who were crucial part of NASA’s history, including one who helped John Glenn become the first American to orbit earth.

 

The Grammy-nominated singer is making her big screen debut in “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson — three women who worked at NASA in the 1960s.
“It is so important, that we as women, African-American women, tell our stories,” Monae said. “These three women opened doors for us and literally helped change the world.”

 

“Hidden Figures,” stars Taraji P. Henson as Johnson; Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as Vaughan and Monae as Jackson. The women were mathematicians and Johnson helped calculate the trajectory for Glenn’s orbit around earth, among other accomplishments. The cast also includes Aldis Hodge, Kevin Costner and Kirsten Dunst. Segments of the film were shown to fans Friday at the Essence Festival, the annual four-day music festival geared toward black women.

 

Monae and Hodge, who plays Noah on WGN America’s hit series “Underground,” spoke afterward.
Monae said she cried when she received the script.

 

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