Mary J. Blige Did Her Own Stunts in Netflix’s New ‘Umbrella Academy’: ‘I Was Pulling Glass Out of My Face’

Read on: Variety.

Mary J. Blige kicks butt. The singer-actress plays a Cha-Cha, a villain in the new “The Umbrella Academy,” Netflix’s adaptation of the superhero comic book series of the same name. “I went all the way for Cha-Cha,” Blige told Variety on Tue…

‘Umbrella Academy’ Trailer: Ellen Page’s ‘Insane’ Superhero Family Has 8 Days to Save the World (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Netflix dropped the official trailer for “The Umbrella Academy” Thursday, giving fans a hazy shade” of what’s in store for them when the streamer’s TV adaptation of former My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way’s comic book series launches in February.

In the two-minute, 12-second clip, we’re introduced to the self described “insane” family of superheroes at the center of the 10-episode series, which stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Cameron Britton, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Colm Feore, Adam Godley, John Magaro, Ashley Madekwe, and Kate Walsh.

Here’s the official logline for hour-long drama: On the same day in 1989, 43 infants are inexplicably born to random, unconnected women who showed no signs of pregnancy the day before. Seven are adopted by a billionaire who creates The Umbrella Academy and prepares his “children” to save the world. Now, the six surviving members reunite upon the news of their father’s passing and must work together to solve a mystery surrounding his death. But the estranged family begins to come apart due to their divergent personalities and abilities, not to mention the imminent threat of a global apocalypse.

Also Read: New York Comic Con 2018 Schedule Day 3: Netflix Brings Chills with ‘Haunting of Hill House’ and ‘Sabrina’

“The Umbrella Academy” is based on the comic book series created and written by Way, illustrated by Gabriel Bá, and published by Dark Horse Comics.

The series hails from Universal Cable Productions for Netflix, with Steve Blackman serving as executive producer and showrunner, and additional executive producers Way, Bá, Jeff F. King, Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg.

Watch the trailer above.

“The Umbrella Academy” launches Feb. 15 on Netflix.

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Trump Inauguration Money Went to Trump Organization With Help From Ivanka, Report Says

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

When Trump’s inaugural team filed documents with the Federal Election Commission last year showing it managed to raise a record $107 million — nearly double the previous record set by President Barack Obama in 2009 —  it prompted questions among critics and observers, mainly: Where did all that money go?

A new investigative report now suggests some of that money may have been funneled into the Trump Organization in coordination with the president’s eldest daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump.

According to interviews, internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica, the inaugural committee may have been paid steep fees to the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company’s Washington hotel.

Also Read: Trump’s Inaugural Committee Under Federal Criminal Investigation (Report)

If the Trump hotel did in fact overcharge the inauguration committee for its venues, it could constitute a  violation of tax laws, the report said.

The article cites two people with direct knowledge, who said Rick Gates, the then-deputy chairman of the Inaugural Committee, asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors, instead of going through the committee. It’s not clear, the report said, whether any vendors took him up on his offer, though some vendors “felt the request was unusual.”

According to the report, Ivanka Trump, a senior executive with the Trump Organization at the time, was asked to help settle a dispute between the family-owned hotel and the Inaugural Committee, which thought the hotel was overcharging.

Also Read: Trump’s Inaugural Committee Paid $26 Million to Firm Created by Melania Trump’s Adviser

Emails reviewed by the news outlets showed that Ivanka Trump connected Gates with Mickael Damelincourt, managing director of the hotel. Damelincourt then responded with a different rate of $175,000 per day for use of the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms, with a $700,000 charge for four days of use.

Neither The White House nor the Trump Organization immediately responded to a request for comment Friday. But on Thursday evening, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters outside the White House that the probe into the inauguration’s spending “doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady.”

“The biggest thing the president did, his engagement in the inauguration, was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office. The president was focused on the transition during that time and not on any of the planning for the inauguration,” Sanders said.

Also Read: Trump Team Scrambles for A-List Inaugural Performers: ‘They Are Willing to Pay Anything’ (Exclusive)

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson Ivanka Trump’s ethics counsel, Abbe Lowell, told TheWrap in statement: “When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate.’ Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Inaugural Committee was under a federal criminal investigation for possible misuse of the some $107 million in spending.

In April, FBI agents raided Cohen’s office and hotel room looking for evidence in connection with a payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who said she had an sex with Trump in 2006.

During that raid, FBI agents found a recorded conversation between Cohen and inaugural planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who, according to the Journal, “expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money.”

Also Read: Insiders: Trump Team Dangled Ambassadorships to Lure A-List Inauguration Singers (Exclusive)

Feds are looking at whether the donations were part of a “pay-for-play” scheme, to gain special access to the president.

In June of 2017, the Trump Inaugural Committee said it conducted a full audit of the festivities and found no wrongdoing. But so far has not provided any documents to back its claims.

Trump’s inaugural festivities were modest in comparison to Obama’s first inauguration, which cost less than half and featured some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including  Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor and U2.

Obama drew 1.8 million people to the National Mall in 2009, according to estimates released by the District of Columbia. In contrast Trump’s inauguration attracted anywhere from 300,000 to 600,000 people on the Mall, according to Vox. While Trump had only three inaugural galas —  two official inaugural balls, as well as the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball — Obama had 10.

Also Read: Ratings: Donald Trump Inauguration ’20/20′ Special Loses to ‘Blacklist’

Almost two years later it’s still unclear how Trump’s team managed to spend the record amount of cash, especially considering that Trump’s festivities was low on star wattage, featuring performances by indie group 3 Doors Down and country singer Toby Kieth as its headliners.

While political action groups supporting particular candidates or issues are obligated to list their spending, inaugural committees are only required to account for its top five contractors, the report noted.

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‘The Umbrella Academy’ Trailer: An Estranged Family Of Gifted Children Attempt To Save The World

Read on: Deadline.

Based on the Dark Horse comic book series created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, Netfilx’s The Umbrella Academy follows a group of “gifted” children adopted by a billionaire who come back home to solve the my…

Fox Buys Musical Dramedy From Silvio Horta, Mary J. Blige & The Jackal Group

Read on: Deadline.

Fox has given a script commitment plus penalty to Move, a one-hour dance drama from Ugly Betty creator Silvio Horta, Mary J. Blige and Gail Berman’s The Jackal Group.
Written by Horta, Move is inspired by the life of famed choreographer and creat…

Mary J Blige-Produced Choreographer Dramedy ‘Move’ in Development at Fox

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Mary J. Blige and “Ugly Betty” co-creator Silvio Horta are bringing the story of dancing queen Laurieann Gibson to the small screen — or at least a story inspired by her life.

Fox has given a script plus penalty commitment to “MOVE,” a one-hour dramedy about an accomplished choreographer, not unlike Gibson.

Here’s the project’s official logline: Inspired by the life of famed choreographer and creative director Laurieann Gibson, “MOVE” is a music-fueled dramedy that follows an accomplished choreographer who, in order to redeem her damaged reputation in the cutthroat music/dance world, sets her sights on creating a flawless tour for a diva pop singer. To get the coveted gig, though, she’ll have to fend off competition from her arch rival…who happens to be her former assistant. At the same time, she must act as mother hen to her talented, but often difficult, team of dancers who depend on her.

Also Read: ‘Genius’: Nat Geo May Make Aretha Franklin the Season 3 Subject Instead of Mary Shelley

“MOVE” is written and executive produced by Horta, who would act as showrunner if it’s picked up to series, with Blige, Gibson, Gail Berman, and Joe Earley also executive producing. The drama hails from The Jackal Group.

Gibson has choreographed dance numbers for artists like Michael Jackson, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. She also counts music videos like “Judas”, “You and I” and “Love to My Cobain” in her directing credits.

Horta is repped by WME.

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Russell Simmons Accuser on How #MeToo Has Rocked the Music Industry: ‘There May Be No Bottom’ (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Former Def Jam executive Drew Dixon fears that “there may be no bottom” as the music industry slowly comes to terms with long-term issues of sexual misconduct.

Dixon, who in December accused music mogul Russell Simmons of rape, said she was initially reluctant to come forward because she was “worried about adding fodder to the myth of the predatory black man.”

She added, “In addition, I didn’t want to be Desiree Washington, who was torn down by the black community, I felt, when she came out years and years ago about Mike Tyson.”

Also Read: #AfterMeToo: 12 Accusers Share What Happened Next, From Firing to More Trauma

Dixon was a rising 24-year-old music executive at Simmons’ Def Jam label working with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Carlos Santana and The Notorious B.I.G., when she said Simmons raped her at his New York apartment in 1995. The incident, she said, came after months of sexual harassment by Simmons.

Through his lawyer, Simmons acknowledged that he engaged in “inappropriate conduct” with Dixon while she worked at Def Jam but denied accusations “of forced sex or sexual violence of any kind.” At least 18 women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape.

Dixon, who was one of the first to accuse Simmons in a New York Times article in December, told TheWrap she did not want to discuss the incident with Simmons or even mention his name. 

The decision to come forward has nothing to do with him,” Dixon, now 47, said. “I’m not thinking about him. This is about letting go of tremendous pain that has really crippled me in ways that I don’t think I even realized.”

She left the music business, she said, after she said she was verbally harassed by another boss, Epic Records head L.A. Reid (who was ousted from his job in May 2017 over sexual harassment claims by another employee; he did not address Dixon’s accusation but has apologized for any “uncomfortable workplace environment” he might have created).

Also Read: Russell Simmons Sexual Assault Lawsuit Dismissed

Coming forward has allowed Dixon to pick up where she left off almost a quarter of a century ago. She’s relaunching her career as a music executive and recently signed up a 17-year-old music artist named Ella. “I feel like I am in a position to navigate her path in a way that I can protect her so she can be an empowered artist and avoid so many of the bear traps that I stepped in,” Dixon said.

When we first discussed doing this interview you said you didn’t want to talk about the incident or Simmons. Why?
It’s about me letting go of the pain, letting go of the burden of carrying his secret, of being an accomplice to his crime after the fact in some ways by covering it up for him… I’m not thinking about him. In some ways, I pity him. I don’t even know what it must be like to live with so much violence and dishonesty.

What was it like coming forward?
It’s sort of walking out of a burning building. It’s trying to build something new and not exactly sure what you can salvage from before because the version of me for 22 years that tolerated it is gone. I’ve retired that version of myself, and so what I will tolerate now is just very different from what I tolerated before from myself.

Why do you think the music industry hasn’t gone through the same reckoning as other industries?
I think there may be no bottom. I’m really not sure what the bottom is. It’s really entrenched in the music industry culture… It’s a cousin of club culture, nightlife culture… I think there may be this inclination to hunker down and hope this category-5 hurricane just passes over the island.

Also Read: Russell Simmons Fires Back at Sexual Assault Lawsuit: Accuser Has ‘Mental Health Issues’

What were your biggest challenges?
Every time there’s a new disclosure, a new accuser, to get 40 texts from people. I’m in the middle of my life and then suddenly someone I know barely… will forward me a new article or forwards me a sentence with some salacious, horrible new detail.

I was talking to a friend… a woman who came forward the other night and she said that whenever there’s a new allegation against him, she just wants to go home and go to sleep for the rest of the day for like 24 hours, which is exactly how I feel… I really just want to curl up in a ball.

You’ve said that being an African-American woman put an extra burden on you. Why?
[I was] worried about adding fodder to the myth of the predatory black man, which I know to be a myth. I’ve been a black woman my whole life, and the overwhelming number of black men I know are lovely…. and we fight this uphill battle as a community every day… with life and death consequences for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown… I would say that was the single greatest reason I did not come forward. I didn’t want to be Desiree Washington, who was torn down by the black community, I felt, when she came out years and years ago about Mike Tyson.

Also Read: Oprah Deletes Russell Simmons From Her New Self-Help Book

And was there a backlash?
No. I’ve heard from many black women in particular that I admire with whom I’d lost touch over the years who made a point of tracking me down and thanking me and supporting me. And that has been huge.

What are your thoughts on the movement almost a year later?
I continue to have hope that #MeToo movement will not be fleeting and that it will really turn out to be a watershed moment for the culture. I do think that there is some uncertainly on all sides about that comes next.

I’m frustrated about the [recent talk of] comebacks for Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey on social media. The abusers are celebrities and the victims are unknown. We’re invisible. Nobody retained our names but everyone remembers the celebrities. We have been derailed, erased from the story and no one is navigating our comebacks. But they are sitting around talking about how to navigate a comeback for the abusers from a punishment that has consisted of taking a few months off from their job.

How has your life changed since coming forward?
I discovered an amazing artist, a 17-year-old young woman named Ella, really incredible. An artist I hoped would walk through my door my entire career, and I’m so glad she walked through my door now because I wasn’t ready… Now I feel like I am in a position to navigate her path in a way that I can protect her intentionally and clearly and explicitly so she can be an empowered artist and avoid so many of the bear traps that I stepped in. 

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Mary J Blige to Star in Paramount Players Horror Thriller ‘Body Cam’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Two-time Oscar nominee Mary J. Blige has signed on to star in “Body Cam,” a horror thriller being released under the Paramount Players banner, the company announced Wednesday.

Malik Vitthal (“Imperial Dreams”) will direct with Matt Kaplan producing. The spec script was written by Richmon Riedel, rewritten by Nic McCarthy and John Ridley.

Tonally in the vein of “Get Out” and “End of Watch,” “Body Cam” centers on several LAPD police officers who are haunted by a malevolent spirit that is tied to the murder of a black youth at the hands of two white cops … all of which are caught on a body cam video that was destroyed in a cover-up.

Also Read: Mary J Blige Joins Netflix Superhero Series ‘The Umbrella Academy’

Blige will play the role of an officer who becomes moved by visions and investigates the cover-up.

With a track record of eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and a SAG nomination, among many other accolades, Blige has cemented herself as a global superstar.

Next up, Blige will star in the upcoming Netflix original series “The Umbrella Academy” that is due to premiere in 2019. This will mark Blige’s first regular role on a TV series, having previously appeared in guest roles on numerous shows such as ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder” and “Black-ish” as well as the FOX musical drama “Empire.”

Blige is represented by Jim Osborne at APA.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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Former 42 West Trio Take Huge Clients, Launch Firm The Lede Company

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Powerhouse PR trio Amanda Silverman, Meredith O’Sullivan Wasson and Sarah Levinson Rothman have a new name for their company — and a staggering client list for the venture, called The Lede Company.
The agency will offer personal and brand r…

Trump White House’s First State Dinner High on Pomp, Low on Star Wattage

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Donald Trump’s first state dinner for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte will include 120 guests, a cream and gold color scheme, rack of spring lamb for the main course and white floral centerpieces of sweet peas and white lilacs.

What it won’t have is Hollywood glamour.

Celebrities have long been a staple of Washington state dinners. But unlike, say, the Obama years, which featured the likes of Beyoncé, Steven Spielberg and James Taylor, this year’s event is low on star wattage, with the Washington National Opera serving as the featured entertainment.

Except for Melania Trump’s broad-brimmed white hat earlier in the day, which drew immediate comparisons to “Scandal’s” Olivia Pope, perhaps the only other Hollywood connection at the state dinner was movie-financier-turned-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Also Read: Rupert Murdoch to Attend Trump White House’s First State Dinner

Among the non-politics celebs who arrived at the Mount Vernon dinner were Apple CEO Tim Cook, Rupert Murdoch and his wife Jerry Hall, Olympic curler John Shuster, and women’s hockey player Meghan Duggan. On the politics side, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy, economic adviser Larry Kudlow, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, Chief Justice John Roberts, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, aide Stephen Miller, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Henry Kissinger, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were there.

The lone Democrat invited was Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, whose office confirmed to TheWrap he and his wife will be attending.


In contrast, the Obama’s first state dinner for then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur in 2009 was held in a tent on the South Lawn of the White House. The dinner included 400 guests, including Steven Spielberg, Katie Couric and actors Blair Underwood and Alfre Woodard.

It was also the year when a couple of party crashers made headlines: Tareq and Michaele Salahi. The Washington socialites were filming “Real Housewives of D.C.,” and made an entrance even though their names were not on the list.

Also Read: Trump Cleans Dandruff Off Macron Shoulder in Show of Friendship (Video)

The Obamas’ list of Hollywood celebs famously included Beyoncé, who headlined the 2010 state dinner for Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderón and his wife, Margarita Zavala. Angela Merkel had a friend in James Taylor during her state dinner in 2011. British Prime Minister David Cameron got to enjoy some John Legend and Mumford and Sons in 2012. And Mary J. Blige had gave some real love to Macron’s predecessor, François Hollande during his state dinner in 2014.

The Obama’s last state dinner, for Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini in 2016, featured a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers. Gwen Stefani, former racing driver Mario Andretti, fashion designer Georgio Armani, celebrity chef Mario Batali, Disney lobbyist Richard Bates, and actor Roberto Benigni, who won an Oscar for 1999’s “Life Is Beautiful” were among the dinner guests.

Republican presidents typically have a harder time wrangling A-listers for their dinners.

First lady Laura Bush’s first state dinner was an intimate dinner honoring then-Mexican President Vicente Fox and his wife, Martha Sahagun de Fox in 2001.  The guest list included tenor Placido Domingo, Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green, after-dinner entertainment soprano Dawn Upshaw and the lone Hollywood representative, Clint Eastwood.

Other celebrities attending state dinners during the Bush years include country crooner Kenny Chesney in 2006, famed violinist Itzhak Perlman in 2007 and the Broadway production of “The Lion King” in 2008.

Spent yesterday with my team checking on the final details of our first State Dinner with France.

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 23, 2018

Is Melania Trump’s white hat a symbol of morality like Olivia Pope’s?

— KOlive (@kmomonahan) April 24, 2018

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Anthony Anderson, La La Anthony Return to Host VH1’s ‘Dear Mama’ Special

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson and actress-host La La Anthony will get ample brownie points with mom this year, as the pair return to VH1 to host “Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Moms.”

The annual special — which in case it is unclear, is to commemorate Mother’s Day — brings back both personalities to help superstars salute their matriarchs. This year’s installment will tape at Downtown L.A.’s Ace Hotel Theater, and air on May 7 at 9 p,m.

Previous guests (and their moms) include Alicia Keys, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Ludacris, DJ Khaled, Kelly Rowland and Maxwell.

Also Read: ‘Black-ish’ Stars Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross Tease Big Season 3 Changes, ‘Evil’ Daughter Diane

Anderson currently stars on and executive produces the hit ABC show “Black-ish,” as well as its spinoff “grown-ish.” He recently won his fourth individual NAACP Image Award in the category of “Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.”

Anthony, from the Starz series “Power,” has produced on Broadway, appeared in numerous films and is a New York Times best-selling author.

“Dear Mama: A Love Letter to Moms” is produced by Flavor Unit and Jesse Collins Entertainment. Shakim Compere, Queen Latifah, Jesse Collins, and Jeannae Rouzan-Clay are executive producers.

Amy Doyle, Garrett English, Elena Diaz and Andria Parides are producing for VH1, with Joe Buoye as head of production.

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Film Review: ‘Sherlock Gnomes’

Read on: Variety.

“Sherlock Gnomes,” the sequel to “Gnomeo & Juliet” (which came out in 2011 — how on earth did we manage to keep our anticipation under control for this long?), lists Elton John as its sole executive producer, just as the earlier film did. The new movie not only features Elton John’s music (though there’s significantly less […]

Two Elton John Tribute Albums — With Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, More — Coming in April

Read on: Variety.

Just days before a Grammy tribute concert to Elton John airs on April 10, two separate albums containing covers of songs written by him and longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin by some of the world’s biggest artists will be released. “Revamp” and the country-themed “Restoration” will be released on April 6. The former album will feature artists in the […]

Mary J. Blige, Miguel, Common: Oscar Inclusion Lives in the Original Song Race

Read on: Variety.

It hadn’t been much commented on prior to the Oscars Sunday night, but there was really no category that better represented the inclusion, diversity, and marginalized communities that the Academy wanted to hold up than the Best Original Song category. That felt clearer while watching the performances of the five nominated songs over the course […]

Mary J. Blige makes Oscars history as the first double nominee for Best Song and Best Supporting Actress

Read on: The A.V. Club.

Mary J. Blige made history tonight at the 90th Academy Awards: As presenter Taraji P. Henson noted, Blige is the first person to ever receive double nominations for Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actress. Fortunately, it’s a year that the Oscars are featuring musical performances, so Blige was able to wow the…

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