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Category: Article about Aldis

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


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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Underground – Sony’s Press Release Announces ‘Season 1’ of the WGN Drama

From TVShowsOnDVD:

Underground_S1“…a prestige drama…action-adventure

tale…” – Stuart Miller, Newsweek

WGN America’s Captivating
Scripted Series


Arrives on DVD June 14

Includes Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes,
Commentaries and Gag Reel and more!


Culver City, CA (April. 18, 2016) – WGN America’s critically acclaimed new drama UNDERGROUND: SEASON ONE arrives on DVD June 14 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) and Tribune Studios. The suspenseful UNDERGROUND series – executive produced by Academy Award and GRAMMY Award winner John Legend (2014, Best Original Song, Selma) – is a compelling story of bravery, ingenuity and power. Legend, with executive producers and Get Lifted Film Co. partners Mike Jackson (Southside with You) and Ty Stiklorius (Breaking Through), oversees all music aspects of the gripping 10-episode journey, which follows a group of slaves striving for their freedom from the Macon plantation in 1857 Antebellum, Georgia. As they plan to escape, the immense sacrifices and uncertainty of where to go and who to trust will test those who have the courage to leave and decide who has the endurance to survive.

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Hollywood on the Potomac: John Legend’s ‘Underground’

John Legend’s WGN series starring Aldis Hodge explores the Underground Railroad


WASHINGTON LIFE – Music superstar John Legend has a lot on his plate these days: The White House just held a special screening for his new WGN “Underground” series; he’s carrying on heated Twitter exchanges with Donald Trump Jr. on racism; and he’s expecting his first child with his wife, model Chrissy Teigen. We focused on “Underground.”


According to producers, the film centers on a group of slaves planning a daring 600-mile escape from a Georgia plantation. Along the way, they are aided by a secret abolitionist couple running a station on the Underground Railroad during their attempt to evade the people charged with bringing them back, dead or alive.


Legend and his production company were in charge of the score and soundtrack for the series and Legend served as executive producer. “I believe the story of people brave enough to risk everything for freedom will be inspirational,” he says.


We spoke to cast members prior to the White House screening, a smart, introspective, engaged group who gave us their take on the relevance of the series in today’s world as well as the significance of this underreported sequence of events during the revolt against slavery.


We focused on Aldis Hodge … think “Straight Outta Compton”… who brilliantly portrays Noah as he leads his fellow slaves in a daring escape on the Underground Railroad.


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‘Underground’ Blazes WGN Ratings Record In Debut

DEADLINE – Underground set a record as WGN’s highest performing original series ever in its launch last night. The 10 PM airing drew 1.4M total viewers to rank No. 5 among all scripted series premieres on cable this broadcast TV season. The premiere’s 585K adults 25-54 ranks No. 7 in the TV season that started last September.


Across its four Wednesday night plays, the launch cumed 2.5M viewers, to stand as the best total-viewer opening ever for an original on WGN in same day viewing. The drama, created by Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, outpaced premieres of the network’s Outsiders by 27% and Salem by 6%. Across those four plays, Underground delivered 983K adults 25-54, surpassing Outsiders by 21%.


Picked up for a full 10-episode first season in February 2015, the TV project from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios focuses on a group of slaves at a Georgia plantation who begin a 600 mile pre-Civil War trek to freedom via the Underground Railroad. It was the second highest trending topic on Twitter last night, behind only the Democratic debate on CNN and Univision, starring Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Idris Elba, Aldis Hodge Salute Black Men in Hollywood at Icon Mann Dinner

VARIETY – As Hollywood prepares to celebrate its biggest night in film, some of the industry’s biggest names in black entertainment — including Idris Elba, Michael Ealy, Boris Kodjoe, Anthony Hemingway, Stephen Hill, Malcolm Jamal Warner, Evan Ross, Leon Bridges and Carl Weathers — packed Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel on Friday to kick off the fourth annual Icon Mann event.


Actors, journalists and Hollywood executives lined the 12th floor Starlight Ballroom — talking, laughing and exchanging handshakes as music played in the background.


The event, which culminates in an exclusive Power 50 dinner, celebrates black men in entertainment and provides a community that fosters support.


“It’s about creating the space for black men to have great fellowship of like-minded consciousness and to come together and talk about how they want to improve the world around them,” said Tamara Houston, founder and CEO of Icon Mann.


As a talent manager and producer, Houston said her first goal was to start with entertainers, because of the wealth of influence they carry.


“If we can get those men on a similar thought pattern of connectivity, we’re going to get more diversity in stories, we’re going to get more diversity in character, and what happens when you do that is you start to change a consciousness, and then we are part of the inclusion.”


Honoree Richard Roundtree, who rose to fame for his portrayal in “Shaft,” sparked Houston’s creation of Icon Mann after she heard him say at an Essence Festival that he had never been in a room filled with the fellowship of black people in the industry.


“Given what we’re going through politically and with the Academy Awards, this is an important evening for us to come together and celebrate each other,” Roundtree said. “We are as important as any other man walking, and to not be acknowledged for the successes that we have had is an injustice.”

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Slavery Drama ‘Underground’ to Screen at White House


New series heads to Washington as part of Black History Month


THE WRAP – WGN America’s new Underground Railroad drama “Underground” will screen at the White House as part of Black History Month, the network announced Friday.


The pilot episode of the show will be be screened on Feb. 22 as part of the White House Office of Public Engagement’s Black History Month event, “These Hallowed Grounds,” highlighting landmarks and monuments around the country significant to the African American community, including stops on the Underground Railroad.


Prior to the screening, there will be panel discussions with the “Underground” cast and creative team, including executive producer John Legend, creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, executive producer Akiva Goldsman and director and executive producer Anthony Hemingway.


Stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Christopher Meloni, Alano Miller, Jessica de Gouw and Amirah Vann will also be in attendance. The panel event will be live streamed beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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On The Set Of “Underground” + Aldis Hodge Opens Up About Difficult Scenes

HIP HOLLYWOOD – The new WGN America show Underground is a dramatic thriller following the lives of slaves in Georgia plotting to run to freedom. HipHollywood exclusively hit the set of the highly anticipated show to see first-hand the plantation they were shooting on and to talk to the show’s star Aldis Hodge and creator, Misha Green.


Aldis plays Noah, the ring-leader among his fellow slaves and the one who orchestrates the escape to freedom. The role was one that not only intrigued Hodge, but also challenged him as an actor. Going into a scene where he has to beg “massa” for his life and is subsequently beat, Aldis says it was the most difficult scenes he’s ever had to portray. “That was a hard day because it was my first day. And I knew when I read the script that was going to be my hardest, hardest challenge to really go there because I’m not good with submitting to defamation and submitting to humiliation and being made to feel lesser than.”


In addition to Aldis, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Alano Miller, Christopher Meloni and more also bring stellar performances to the small screen as part of the underground cast. Be sure to check back to HipHollywood to see more of our Underground coverage and watch the show when it premieres March 9th on WGN America.
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Jurnee Smollett-Bell & Aldis Hodge Get Dirty: Trip To The Set Of “Underground”


GLOBALGRIND – It may turn out to be the most interesting time of my life. I was just offered a guest spot on MTV2’s Uncommon Sense on the same day I was scheduled to visit the set of one of the most interesting shows coming to television, Underground, a program about a group of runaway slaves being filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


There was no way in hell I was going to cancel anything; I was determined to make it work. Because in a world filled with so much racial tension, I had to see how this TV series based on the slave narratives in the Library of Congress was being made.


I pushed my flight back, did MTV, and finished with exactly 60 minutes to get from the middle of Times Square to JFK airport in rush hour traffic. By the time I got to the airport, there were exactly 10 minutes to get through the terminal to TSA and then to the gate. Needless to say, I missed my original flight. But luckily, I caught another and arrived in Baton Rouge by the morning. It all worked out.



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WGN Has a New Show About Slavery, and I Don’t Know If I’m Ready


THE MARY SUE – WGN America is launching a new dramatic series in January 2016 called Underground, whose storyline is centered around a group of slaves, their daring escape from a plantation, and the abolitionists who help them.


Yep. I had the same reaction when I saw the press release.


To be honest, I feared that this would be, at best, 12 Years a Slave “the miniseries,” or at worst, a historically distorted narrative like Mississippi Burning. However, then I saw that John Legend’s company, Get Lifted, had signed on as the executive producers, and WGN had tapped Misha Green (Spartacus, Sons of Anarchy, Heroes) and Joe Pokaski (Daredevil, Heroes, CSI) to pen the script. Add to that an amazing cast featuring several actors whose work I enjoy, such as Aldis Hodge (from one of my favorite shows, Leverage), Jurnee Smollet-Bell (Friday Night Lights, The Great Debaters), and Christopher Meloni (Law and Order: SVU), and I decided that I must learn more about this show.


Underground’s plot is actually being promoted less like a slave narrative and more like an adventure of survival. (Less Roots, more The Defiant Ones.) When I heard that the cast would all be going to New York Comic Con, I jumped at the chance to interview some of them and ask them the one question that had been on my mind since the premise of the show was revealed:


“What was your reaction when your agent called and told you that you had just landed a starring role on a brand new show … about slavery?”

Aldis Hodge (Noah):

I thought that we had seen this narrative before, but when I read the script, that changed everything, because I realized they told an honest story we’d never seen before. They were talking about people’s strength; they told the strength of these people as opposed to the weaknesses, the victimization of it. We got to see heroes. We got to be proud of these people. We got to see how smart and intelligent they were, and we got to see where the foundation of that came from. I like to speak to everybody, and this is a show that does that. Even though we’re talking about black culture, you realize these are Americans; regardless of what they look like or what their color is, they’re all Americans.


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2016 Oscars Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

E! ONLINE – Say what?!?!


Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, directors Guillermo Del Toro and Ang Lee and actor John Krasinski announced the nominations for the 2016 Oscars Thursday morning, and while justice was served for some, others were completely snubbed. In additions to the snubs there were also plenty of surprises that caught us off guard, so this year’s Oscars will probably be full of even more shocking moments (with the help of host Chris Rock, of course).


Let’s talk about how “See You Again,” the song from Furious 7 performed by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, didn’t earn a nomination for Best Song. That’s right, Paul Walker’s tribute didn’t get a nod. Instead, “Earned It” by The Weekend from Fifty Shades of Grey made the cut as well as Golden Globe-winning “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith from Spectre, which sort of went without saying. But “Earned It” over “See You Again”?! We’d understand “Love Me Like You Do,” but “Earned It” seems a little out of left field. Continuing in the song category, we’re still surprised about Lady Gaga. Yes, it was awesome to watch her win the Golden Globe, but it’s still slightly jaw-dropping how she can go from slightly out there performer to a potential EGOT winner in a year.


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