Hey happy people, here’s what’s happening in the world of black entertainment: Find out why OWN’s new reality series “Love in the City” is worth checking out, the cast of “Star Wars: Episode VII” has been revealed and NeNe Leakes hangs up her boogie shoes. Plus, there’s my watchlist and what’s hot (Pharrell Williams’ “Marilyn Monroe” CD cover) and not (all things Donald Sterling). Enjoy!
Four reasons to check out “Love in the City.” A month ago, I wrote a snippet previewing the newest member of the OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network TV family, “Love in the City.” The docu-series stars celebrity hairstylist Kiyah Wright, life coach Bershan Shaw, actress Chenoa Maxwell and philanthropist Tiffany Jones. And guess what? These ladies are actual friends and have been for more than a decade. I’ll tell you this, too, given the recent malaise from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” this show couldn't have come at a better time. For those of you who live for reality TV (as our February guest editor Arsenio Hall confessed), this show, which premiered on April 12, gives you a bit of the expected drama mixed with real-life scenarios, you know, what this genre's supposed to offer. Check out my top four reasons why you should give this show a shot.
1) Genuine Friendships. They can be spotted a mile away even to the novice viewer: fake reality TV friendships. Unless you have jacked up friends, no one you have a sustainable relationship with is going to take your purse or pull on your hair or wig. While Kiyah is the link between the four women, they all have relationships with one another and “have all hung in there for each other” though some of the unions have been tested.
2) Issues resolved in a reasonable manner. Yes, friendships will be tested and in the first episode, viewers learned why breast cancer survivors Bershan and Tiffany didn’t have a stronger bond (they discussed their differences during a very heated lunch conversation. FYI, nothing was thrown–punches or bottles!). While some of that tension carried over into the second episode, it quickly dissipated once Tiffany revealed a huge secret: she had a double mastectomy after her breast cancer returned. Whoa! Another example is in the third episode, when Tiffany and Chenoa get into it over the former dropping the ball while they planned Kiyah’s 40th birthday bash. Chenoa ended up kicking Tiffany out of her home and though they kissed and made up, both ladies agreed that would probably be the last time Tiffany would visit.
3) Cast juggles work and personal lives. There have been some early comparisons between “Love in the City” and Bravo’s “Blood, Sweat & Heels,” which also focuses on career-minded women in the Big Apple. One of the biggest letdowns viewers said about “Blood, Sweat & Heels” is that they expected the series to focus more on the cast’s careers and less on the drama (and name calling) that ensued. So far, “Love in the City” is doing a pretty decent job of showcasing that work-life balance that many viewers desire to see. In the first episodes, Bershan puts on a fundraiser for her U R A Warrior foundation, Tiffany hosts an event for her PinkChoseMe foundation and works at the Alberta Ferretti boutique, Chenoa hosts a photo exhibit and Kiyah always has someone in her chair, including her girlfriends (in episode four, you see her doing Gabrielle Union’s locks). "I don't want to be a kept woman. I want to be independent," says Bershan, who owned her own business before marrying her wealthy hubby. No gold digger claims here!
4) Unconventionally conventional. One of the things I appreciate about this series is that these women seem to live their lives unapologetically. Here’s what I mean: Chenoa and her hubby Carlyle have tried unsuccessfully for the past three or so years to have a baby. Her suggestion? Bring in a second wife! Yep, she explains that’s an option because he really wants children and she’s having fertility issues. “I don’t want a baby but maybe I can have another woman give you your baby and she can be the caretaker for you. I mean that would be awesome,” Chenoa tells her girls over lunch. They couldn’t get with that program but Chenoa assures them, “I could totally do that.” Chenoa knows the ideas she has about love and relating are nontraditional and seems to be very secure with that. Another example? Newly 40-year-old Kiyah feels the pressure to have a child. Though she has a 27-year-old boyfriend, she admits, “I’m looking for a baby daddy and not a husband first. It’s so whack, I’ve got it all twisted around…I have to be a mom. I have to be a mom.” Though it isn’t popular to admit such a thing she did and it’s her truth.
Hey, don’t just take my word for it, catch up on the first three episodes on TV with XFINITY On Demand™. “Love in the City” airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. EST on OWN. Watch the episode four preview below.
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John Boyega joins “Star Wars: Episode VII.” The cast of the upcoming “Star Wars” film has been released with a few surprises. Rumored cast members Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, or even original cast member Billy Dee Williams,who starred as Lando Calrissian, didn’t make the cut. But congrats to John Boyega, who did (I shared last month that he was in the running). I really liked John in 2011’s “Attack the Block.” He was the lead and I’m glad he’s getting another shot in this blockbuster. You can also spot him in episodes of Fox’s “24: Live Another Day,” which debuts on May 5. Although I’ve only watched the first season or two of “24” (it was good) I think I’ll check out this latest installment and observe John’s skills. “Star Wars: Episode VII” will premiere on Dec. 18, 2015. Read more about its casting here and watch John talk about his “Attack the Block” character Moses below.
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NeNe Leakes is eliminated from “Dancing with the Stars.” I’ve only watched bits and pieces of this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” and can’t give as thorough a review as I’d prefer. I can say that NeNe is a good dancer but she faced some stiff competition. And I believe she knew that. “As I mentioned last week, you need to work on technique. The footwork and the leg action could’ve been a bit crisper but as always fun to watch. Well done,” judge Len Goodman told her. I think her height coupled with her voluptuous frame may have worked against her or maybe her pro partner, Tony Dovolani, didn’t know how to make it work. For example, season 17 champs Amber Riley and Derek Hough were good and fun to watch. Amber, who is a plus-sized woman, was so inspiring and Derek’s choreography was very creative. Neither allowed her size to interfere with their quest for the mirrored ball. Some people have speculated that viewers’ disapproval with the behavior NeNe displayed during Sunday’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion show could affect her “DWTS” viewer votes. Perhaps, but as I said earlier, she had some stiff competition. Do you think NeNe deserved to be sent home? Watch her performance below and decide. “Dancing with the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. Watch it here.
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On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand…
“The Tomorrow People”: After last week’s episode (don’t want to spoil it) I have to see the aftermath. It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on CW. Watch it here.
“The Following”: Again, I don’t want to give anything away but last week’s episode had a similar cliffhanger as the “Scandal” finale. It airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EST on Fox. Watch it here.
The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: Pharrell Williams’ “Marilyn Monroe” CD cover (that model–Khadija Nicholas–is beautiful and dare I say it, has similar facial features as Ms. Monroe–that should tell you something!)
NOT: LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling (Bryant Gumbel and Lupita Nyong’o’s “12 Years a Slave” character Patsey first came to mind when I heard the recording. Sadly, I suspect he isn’t the only professional athletic team owner who shares those misguided views.).
HOT: The NBA’s swift decision to ban Donald Sterling for life (Considering that the league’s players are mostly black, you knew they had to do something swift and harsh.).
NOT: The LA NAACP chapter offering Donald Sterling a Lifetime Achievement award (So much I could say but won’t. Why? Because you already know!).
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.