Black Panther crossed the billion dollar mark worldwide at the box office news, and Marvel/Disney has confirmed plans for a sequel are underway. Black Panther marked the biggest debut by an African American director in history (Director and Co-writer Ryan Coogler). Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker and Sterling K. Brown led the cast. Filmmaker Ryan Koogler has confirmed his participation for the sequel. When Black Panther passed the billion dollar mark worldwide, it broke all taboos for foreign and domestic distribution in which African Americans are told within the industry the false idea of a weak box office.
Ocean’s 8 ‘s starring Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Rapper/Comedienne Awkwafina, Anne Hathaway and Sandra Bullock brought in $270 million at the box office.
Oscar Nominated Director Ava DuVernay is now a member of the $100 million club. A Wrinkle In Time has become the first movie to be directed by a black woman to hit that mark. Now the filmmaker has signed a reported $100 million deal with Warner Brothers.
Actress/Comedienne Tiffany Haddish had three movies out this year, the most successful was with Kevin Hart (Night School) which grossed over $100 million plus her book debut called The Last Black Unicorn.
The Philadelphia Eagles, who want another bite of the apple in 2019, took their very first Super Bowl championship in February of this year after defeating the New England Patriots. President Trump disinvited our Super Bowl champion Eagles from a celebration at The White House after learning how many players wouldn’t show out protest against Trump policies.
The Villanova Wildcats won their second NCAA Basketball Championship in a row this year.
The Metoo movement in 2018 saw both Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey get charged in the wake of a host of sexual misconduct allegations. Les Moonves was forced to resign his position as CBS CEO amid sexual misconduct allegations and the network says he’s not entitled to his $120 million severance. Nelly is under a new sexual assault criminal investigation for an incident that allegedly happened in England. In this country, police dropped an investigation after another Nelly accuser Monique Green decided a civil suit was the best way to go and stopped cooperating with the police investigation. Tavis Smiley sued PBS after the network dropped his show. The activist and long time TV personality contended that PBS acted too when they fired him following a sexual misconduct investigation. PBS is countersuing. Morgan Freeman, the reigning dean of acting on the big screen, now stands accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment toward eight women. Love Is and Black Lightning Producer/Director Salim Akil, married to Mara Brock Akil, was accused of abuse and sued for allegedly stealing the idea for Love Is by an ex, Amber Dixon Brenner, who claims the affair was extramarital on both their parts. OWN cancelled Love Is immediately. And now, TV Personality and Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson by three different women. The Biggest story of all was the conviction and sentencing of legendary Entertainer Bill Cosby, who’s serving 3 to 10 years for sexually assaulting former Temple University Employee Andrea Constand. Cosby’s lawyers are appealing and vowed to win his release.
Geoffrey Owens, the former Cosby Show actor who was job shammed then job praised, has turned lemons into lemonade in 2018. The Cosby Show was widely cancelled from cable and syndication back in 2014 when the Bill Cosby sex scandal rumors re-circulated. That cancellation hit the pockets of the rest of the cast members, including Owens who played son-in-law Elvin on The Cosby Show for seven years. Owens recently took a job at Trader Joe’s as a cashier to keep things afloat. When a woman tried to embarrass Owens by putting his picture on social media, it backfired and he won rave admiration from fans and new found interest from the industry. Now, he’s working steadily including Tyler Perry/OWN’s The Haves And Have Nots and CBS’s CSI: New Orleans.
Essence Magazine kicked off 2018 with a brand new purpose as they've become a black owned publication once again. 48-year old entrepreneur and founder of SheaMoisture, Richelieu Dennis created Essence Ventures and bought Essence magazine.
Wild times at NBC’s Today Show. First the announcement in January that Hoda Kotb is the permanent co-anchor for 7am to 9am. And in December came Kathie Lee Gifford announced she stepping down from her co-hosting gig on the fourth hour of Today. The biggest splash was Megyn Kelly. She moderated a panel on political correctness on Halloween costumes. When Kelly told her all-white panel it was OK to dress in blackface, social media erupted. She was even called out the next day by her NBC News Colleagues Craig Melvin and Al Roker, who particularly schooled the audience on the history of blackface’s ties to Jim Crow. Kelly has been accused of racism previously during her stint at FOX News. One example is when she said on air that Jesus and Santa Claus were white. NBC is scrambling. They quickly released an apology from Kelly followed by assembling prominent African American pundits Roland Martin and Amy Holmes to talk with Kelly on air about the controversy. Despite Kelly’s near tearful on air apology, calls for her firing continued. Her talent agency representation also parted company with her. Now comes word the cast of House Of Cards cancelled a visit to Kelly’s show as well. Remember, NBC hired Kelly and replaced the 9am show that was previously hosted by Al Roker and Tamron Hall. Hall promptly left the network after her show’s cancelation and is now prepping her own daytime talker with ABC for next year. Kelly’s 9am hour of Today has not lived up to ratings expectations anyway. Networks are especially concerned these days with any appearance of a sexist or racist workplace. NBC ceased production with Kelly, and sources say the network is trying to finalize her exit.
Roseanne Barr cancelled! The biggest TV comeback had the biggest fall when ABC cancelled their # 1 hit sitcom Roseanne. The show returned to huge ratings, but it all came to a crash after Barr sent out a tweet stating former Obama Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett was a child of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet Of The Apes. Barr deleted the tweet and replaced it with an apology. Too Late!! Then ABC’s Entertainment President Channing Dungey, the first African American woman to hold that post, made the announcement that the comments weren’t ABC’s values and the show was cancelled. Producers regrouped with ABC and came up with The Conners without matriarch Roseanne Conner, formerly played by Barr. Producers negotiated with ABC to bring the show back, but Roseanne could have no part in it nor enjoy any proceeds. Producers bought her out, and Roseanne agreed to let the show go on without her.
Speaking of ABC, the reports are true that the former ABC Chief, Channing Dungey, is the Netflix VP Of Original Content. Dungey was the first African American broadcast network chief for three years at ABC before she stepped down.
Mo’Nique called for a Netflix boycott, but couldn’t quite garner the support. The Oscar winning comedienne said that after offering multi-millions to Dave Chappelle ($20 million), Chris Rock ($20 million) and Amy Schumer ($13 million), Mo’Nique was only offered $500,000. Mo’Nique also called out Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey and Lee Daniels.
Debra Lee has left the building at BET. The long time CEO and Chairman of Black Entertainment Television called it quits after 32 years and has resigned her post.
ESPN’s Jemele Hill has been ousted from her co-anchor spot on the weekday edition of SportsCenter, but then she left ESPN all together. ESPN has cut talent and staff recently, but many are wondering if something else is involved here. Hill was suspended last year by ESPN after she used her personal twitter to call President Donald Trump a white supremacist. White House Spokesperson Sara Huckabee Sanders said such tweets were a fire-able offense. Hill apologized for the fact that ESPN was involved, but not for the tweet. Hill has departed ESPN after making a reported strong exit deal for herself.
In 2018, stars opened up about an important health issue: mental illness. Mariah Carey revealed she suffers from bi-polar disorder. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also opened up earlier about his battle with depression. Destiny’s Child Singer and Actress Michelle Williams has gone public about seeking out and being under the care of mental health professionals. Taraji P. Henson established The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, a nonprofit organization named for her father whose mental health challenges arose from his military tour of Vietnam.
In 2018, Peabo Bryson celebrated over 40 years of music with a brand new album, Stand For Love, produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on their reactivated label Perspective Records. He’s already got two hot singles off the album: Love Like Yours And Mine and his latest All She Wants To Do Is Me.
We bid farewell to many icons of stage, screen, music and community in 2018: Dennis Edwards of The Temptations (I Can’t Get Next To You; Memories; Papa Was A Rolling Stone: Ball Of Confusion) has passed at age 74; Ethel Ayler who played Carrie Hanks, Clair Huxtable’s mom on The Cosby Show. Her career stretched back to Broadway in 1946 when she was cast in Porgy And Bess through the late 1990’s including Little Foxes and August Wilson’s Fences; R&B Singer/Songwriter Denise LaSalle passed away at the age of 78; ABC Sports Broadcasting Great Keith Jackson, 89; South African born Legendary Trumpeter Hugh Masekela passed away at 78 (Grazing In The Grass); Civil Rights Icon Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker; Emmy winner Olivia Cole (Roots); NBA Player and Philly (Point Breeze) Native Rasual Butler and his wife former American Idol Contestant and Singer Leah LaBelle; Actor Reg E. Cathey (House Of Cards and Fantastic Four); Ensa Cosby, the daughter of Bill and Camille Cosby; Rapper Craig Mack; Barbara Summers, longtime Power 99 personality; Talent Manager and Record Executive Iris Perkins; Rita Owens, actress/businesswoman and mother of Queen Latifah; TV Writer/Producer Steven Bochco; Singer and Manager Yvonne Staples of The Staple Singers; The 41st President, George Herbert Walker Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush; 76ers Legend Hal Greer; Actress Margot Kidder (Superman/Superman II, Some Kind Of Hero; Songwriter/Producer Reggie Lucas; Designer Kate Spade; Entertainment Entrepreneur, Management Legend and Jackson Family Patriarch Joe Jackson; Actress Charlotte Rae (Facts Of Life); the founding director of The Dance Theater Of Harlem Arthur Mitchell; Bandleader/Musician/Songwriter/Trumpeter Roy Hargrove; legendary Comic Book/Movie/Television Icon Stan Lee; Model/Actress Kim Porter; Oprah Winfrey’s mom Vernita Lee; Co-founder of The House Of Umoja David Fattah; Singer/Actress/TV Personality Nancy Wilson; Actress/Producer/Director Penny Marshall (Laverne & Shirley; Big; A League Of Their Own); Winnie Mandela, the Mother Of South Africa; And The Queen Of Soul Aretha Franklin.
Franklin’s funeral became controversial: first, Arianna Grande in a super short skirt singing her tribute from the pulpit. Even Smokey Robinson mentioned her camp should have reminded her it was a funeral, but he loves her anyway. That focus changed quickly to Bishop Charles Ellison. He issued apologies not only for making fun of Grande’s name to her and the Latino community even though she Italian, but he was accused of groping her in video that went viral.
Idris Elba, newly engaged to Sabrina Dhowre, was named People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2018. He was also named by his ex, Singer K Michelle, as quite a skilled ….Former Boyfriend bedroom wise. Elba also made his directorial debut with the film Yardie.
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is out and 24-year old Danielle Herrington, becomes just the third black woman to grace the cover after Tyra Banks and Beyonce.
Speaking of Bey, Coachella turned into Beychella. Beyonce’s appearance at that music festival included a historically black college/university-themed performance. She also did a New Orleans themed salute, brought out her current touring partner and hubby Jay-Z, and topped it off with a Destiny’s Child Reunion as Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland joined Queen Bey on stage.
In 2018, LeBron James signed a 4-year deal to go out West for $154 million with the L.A. Lakers.
2018 proved quite eventful for television. The CW’s Black Lightning and BET’s The Bobby Brown Story were huge. John Legend (Jesus Christ Superstar), Tiffany Haddish (Saturday Night Live), Katt Williams (Atlanta), Ron Cephas Jones (This Is Us) and Samira Wiley ( HULU’s A Handmaid’s Tale) all won Emmys. American Idol returned to ABC with new Judge Lionel Richie.
In 2018, Dionne Warwick says the accusations against her sister are hogwash, and she’ll never forgive those promoting it. The legendary singer made her first comments publicly to Larry King on his internet show. Dionne’s late sister, Singer Dee Dee Warwick, has been accused of molesting her late cousin Whitney Houston in the documentary Whitney.
In 2018, three legendary acts announced stepping off the stage. First Neil Diamond who has stopped touring because of Parkinson’s but will continue to record. Then Elton John, who is currently on a farewell tour. Finally The O’Jays, the legendary ambassadors of the sound Of Philadelphia, revealed their plan to walk away from it all in 2020.
Throwbacks were also a problem for three comedians. “My nephew,” Kevin Hart, stepped down as host of 2019’s Academy Awards after previous homophobic joke tweets were reposted and he refused to continuously apologize for them. His friend and fellow comedian Nick Cannon defended Hart and unearthed previous homophobic tweets from Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Handler. Plus, Cannon called out Oscar’s own history with barring the first ever African American Oscar Winner from the ceremony, Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind). Then Comedians Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais and the embattled Louis CK saw a previous 2011 HBO TV appearance in which everyone used the N-word except Jerry Seinfeld come back and get them dragged on social media.
In 2018 Oscar news, Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Kobe Bryant (Dear Basketball) took home their first Academy Awards.
Michelle Obama’s Becoming is the top selling book of 2018. She even trumped (SMILE) Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s tell all, Unhinged, about her time in the Trump White House. Mrs. Obama and Former President Barack Obama, who came to North Philly’s Dell Music Center for a Rally at summer’s end, signed a deal with Netflix. The Obamas will be both in front and behind the scenes with projects based on common values and promoting the art of storytelling. As for Omarosa, she was ousted from the White House and told her story in the book Unhinged. POTUS Trump responded by calling her a dog.
Tyler Perry announced taking Madea on a farewell tour. Everybody’s favorite gun totting elder has been on stage, TV and film, but after twenty successful years, Perry says it’s time for the character to end. Perry has played Madea all this time, and says he’s getting older too.
Congratulations to Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union on the birth of their daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, to add to their family of boys. They had their child via surrogate and kept it way under the radar.
Congratulations to Eddie Murphy on baby number 10! The 57-year old comedy legend welcomed Max Charles Murphy with his fiancée Australian Actress/Model Paige Butcher, 39. Max’s middle name is for Murphy’s late brother Comedian/Actor Charlie Murphy.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were wed this year and the couple confirmed all the rumors and are expecting a baby. The child, the first for both, is due in the spring of 2019 right around their first anniversary.
Congratulations to Faith Evans because she jumped the broom again. The Soon As I Get Home singer tied the knot in Vegas with Reality Star/Music Producer Stevie J. Stevie
Singer/Songwriter/Actor Tank tied the knot with his long time love Zena Foster. The couple has a ten-year old daughter, Zoey, and a three-year old son, Zion. Tank also has three children from a previous relationship.
Speaking of weddings, congrats to Singer Miguel and Model/Artist/Actress Nazanin Mandi who were married earlier this fall.
The fourth time’s the charm for a founding member of The Jackson Five. Jermaine Jackson is taking the plunge once again. The 63-year old singer will marry his 23….YES…. 23-year old girlfriend Maday Velazquez.
Now for the splits:
Duane Martin (Real Husbands Of Hollywood) and Tisha Campbell-Martin (My Wife & Kids; Dr. Ken; Martin);
Robert De Niro and his wife Grace Hightower have reportedly called it quits after twenty years.
After nine years of marriage, Tamar Braxton and Vince Herbert have separated.
Usher, 39, and his wife Grace Miguel, 48, have announced their separation. The separation announcement comes after months of multiple people accusing the Let It Burn singer of having the STD herpes and either exposing or transmitting the disease. The surfacing of a reported million dollar settlement from a 2012 accuser ignited more accusations. Speculation is that situation may have been the last straw for Usher’s second marriage.
Jill Scott’s divorce is final from Mike Dobson. After not quite two years, the couple called it quits. Later in 2018, Jilly From Philly broke the internet when she simulated ….showing a fella a good time on stage with her mic check.
Mary J. Blige’s divorce is finalized. The 47-year old Queen Of Hip Hop Soul and her now ex-husband and former manager Kendu Isaacs came to an agreement. After 13-years of marriage Blige filed for divorce in July of 2016 and the process was not pretty. Accusations of reported infidelity on his part, false accusations against Isaacs in songs on her part and the temporary $30,000 monthly spousal support Blige had to pay along with the $100,000 legal bill complicated this case.
After nine months of court appearances and testimony that included wild sex parties, drugs and alcohol, abusive behavior and restraining orders, Mel B and Stephen Belafonte got their divorce finalized. A shocking confession from Singer/Reality TV Star Mel B, who called Comedian Eddie Murphy the love of her life in her book Brutally honest. The two broke up after Mel became pregnant with their child. She married Belafonte afterward. The former Spice Girl also suffered injuries from a mysterious accident including severing her hand. She endured an hours long surgery to repair it.
Finally, Cardi B and Offset have broken up….maybe. The rapper/singer/songwriter/reality show star married the high profile member of the rap trio Migos last year after he proposed to her in Philly at Power 99’s Powerhouse. They welcomed a daughter, Kulture, in July. Then announced a split amid cheating rumors on his part. Then Cardi hit the net and mentioned a quality she missed about Offset (SMILE). Shortly after that, they’ve been spotted out and about together, but Cardi says they’re not back together. Hmmmmmm!
Happy New Year Catch You In 2019!!!!