Netflix debuts 'Strong Black Lead' spot - Silver Screen Beat
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Netflix debuts ‘Strong Black Lead’ spot just days after firing a top executive for using the N-word

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The timing of a new commercial featuring 47 black Netflix content creators and talent, all of whom represent the streaming giant’s Strong Black Lead initiative, couldn’t be more ironic given the fact that it aired during Sunday night’s BET Awards just two days after the company fired PR chief Jonathan Friedland for using the N-word and displaying “unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity.”

The spot, narrated by Stranger Things star Caleb McLaughlin, is inspired by the legendary 1958 photo “A Great Day in Harlem” and was directed by Lacey Duke and features Ava DuVernay, Derek Luke, Laverne Cox, Lena Waithe, Mike Colter, Rev Run, Spike Lee, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Logan Browning, Ajiona Alexus, and Priah Ferguson, among many others. Kwaku Alston photographed the moment.

According to one source inside the company with knowledge of the situation, Netflix execs debated whether or not they should run the spot during the BET Awards this past weekend, fearing potential backlash, before ultimately making the decision to move forward with their original plans.

“This is a new day built from the ground broken by legends, a day for our generation to see untold experiences of our blackness representing a limitless range of Identity, playing kings and queens of our neighborhoods, defeating larger than life forces trying to flip our world upside down,” says McLaughlin in the video.

“We’re not a genre because there’s no one way to be black. We’re writing while black — nuanced and complex, resilient and strong. This is not a moment. This is a movement. We are strong black leads. Today is a great day in Hollywood,” he adds.

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Kumail Nanjinai is joining the cast of Jordan Peele’s upcoming revival of ‘The Twilight Zone’

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Kumail Nanjinai
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With production on the next season of HBO’s Emmy-winning comedy series Silicon Valley currently stalled, Kumail Nanjinai is making the most of his time off by starring in an episode of the upcoming Twilight Zone revival, CBS All Access announced Thursday.

Nanjiani, who scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay along with his wife Emily V. Gordon for their work on the critically acclaimed rom-com The Big Sick at the Academy Awards earlier this year, joins previously announced cast members Sanaa Lathan and Adam Scott.

In addition to his work as a producer on The Twilight Zone, Jordan Peele serves as the host and narrator of the show, which will be a modern reimagining of the original that premiered in 1959 and was hosted by creator Rod Serling and ran for five seasons until its conclusion in 1964.

“Rod Serling was an uncompromising visionary who not only shed light on social issues of his time but prophesied issues of ours,” Peele said earlier this year. “I’m honored to carry on his legacy to a new generation of audiences as the gatekeeper of The Twilight Zone.”

Peele is executive producing The Twilight Zone via his Monkeyaw Productions along with Simon Kinberg, Win Rosenfeld, Audrey Chon, Carol Serling, Rick Berg, and Greg Yaitanes. The series is expected to premiere on CBS All Access in 2019.

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Pedro Pascal eyed for lead role in Jon Favreau’s live-action ‘Star Wars’ series ‘The Mandalorian’

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Pedro Pascal
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More than a month after Lucasfilm revealed the official title and synopsis for Jon Favreau’s highly anticipated live-action Star Wars series, Variety is reporting that Pedro Pascal is in negotiations to take on the lead role in The Mandalorian, which is expected to debut on Disney+ sometime in 2019.

While Pascal’s name was, at one point, just one of many on a list of actors being considered for the role, the studio recently narrowed the list down to just a small handful of names and ultimately decided to offer the gig to Pascal, who currently stars in the Netflix original series Narcos.

Favreau is writing and executive producing The Mandalorian, which boasts an all-star lineup of episodic directors that includes the likes of Taikia Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, Deborah Chow, and Dave Filoni of Star Wars Rebels fame.

The series is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order and follows the adventures of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.

The news of Pascal’s casting comes on the heels of Disney’s announcement last week that an additional live-action Star Wars series is in the works that will see Diego Luna reprise his role as Cassian Andor from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

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HBO announces the eighth and final season of ‘Game of Thrones’ will premiere in April 2019

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Game of Thrones
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While details about the highly anticipated final season of Game of Thrones have been kept tightly under wraps, including the upcoming season’s premiere date, HBO announced today that season 8 of the Emmy-winning series will launch this April, though a specific day and date for the premiere is still yet to be revealed.

The news, which came in the form of a promotional video showcasing footage from the show’s past seven seasons, adds up with what we’ve heard previously from HBO programming president Casey Bloys, who said that the final season of Game of Thrones would “debut in the first half of 2019” earlier this year.

The aforementioned promotional video, titled #ForTheThrone, marks the start of a vast marketing campaign for HBO that will unfold over the course of the next five months leading up to the final season, which wrapped its rigorous production schedule back in July.

Ultimately, the goal of the campaign, according to HBO, is to hopefully encourage Game of Thrones fans to re-watch the series and potential new viewers to begin watching the series for the first time before its conclusion. But season 8 of Game of Thrones won’t be the end of the franchise altogether.

HBO is currently working on developing a spinoff series, which will be set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones and will chronicle the world’s descent from the so-called “Golden Age of Heroes” into its darkest period in history.

“We’re just starting the search for director [and] casting director,” Bloys said, adding that he hopes the series, which is based on a story created by Jane Goldman and Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, will begin shooting sometime in 2019.

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