Marcus Jones

New York Is Close To Financially Rewarding TV Shows That Make Diversity A Priority Behind The Camera

“I initially became interested in this bill because as an Afro-Latina immigrant, I knew what it felt like to grow up feeling invisible in American culture. It was so rare to see a character of color on television, and when you did see one, it felt like they were tokenized, stereotyped, or killed off quickly,” she said. “And while the industry has made some strides on representation in front of the camera, diversity behind the camera is still sorely lacking. I think the overall quality of television, the different kinds of stories that can be told, the overall landscape of the art form will benefit greatly from having opportunities for diverse people to tell their stories. It was a tough battle, but I stuck with the bill because of the future generations of talented women and people of color who would otherwise remain undiscovered, and the inspiration their stories could bring to countless young people and immigrants like myself.”

BuzzFeed News also reached out to representatives for Assemblymember Crespo for a statement.

DeMario Jackson Has Lost His Job In The Wake Of The “Bachelor In Paradise” Incident

On Wednesday, Olympios and Jackson both released statements. You can read Jackson’s in full below.

“It’s unfortunate that my character and family name has been assassinated this past week with false claims and malicious allegations. I will be taking swift and appropriate legal action until my name is cleared and, per the advice of legal counsel, will be seeking all available remedies entitled to me under the laws.”

Jada Pinkett-Smith Finds Aspects Of “All Eyez On Me” Deeply Hurtful

Her post reads: “Forgive me… my relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in All Eyez On Me to stand as truth.

Pac never read me that poem. I didn’t know that poem existed until it was printed in his book.

Pac never said goodbye to me before leaving for LA. He had to leave abruptly and it wasn’t to pursue his career.

I’ve never been to any of Pac’s shows by his request. We never had an argument backstage.

The reimagining of my relationship to Pac has been deeply hurtful.

To Kat and Demetrius this is no fault of yours. Thank for bringing so much heart and spirit to your roles. You both did a beautiful job with what you were given. Thank you both.

Happy birthday Pac, you are cradled in my heart for eternity. I love you.”

Corinne Olympios And DeMario Jackson Have Broken Their Silence On “Bachelor In Paradise” Incident

Marcus Jones is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Marcus Jones at marcus.jones@buzzfeed.com.

Kate Aurthur is the chief Los Angeles correspondent for BuzzFeed News. Aurthur covers the television and film industries.

Contact Kate Aurthur at kate.aurthur@buzzfeed.com.

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Production Has Been Shut Down On “Bachelor In Paradise” Because Of A Reported Sexual Incident

Multiple outlets have reported that, as is customary on Bachelor in Paradise, the contestants were drinking heavily. A show source told People that “it appears as though conduct allegedly occurred without the proper consent having been given.”

A contestant also told People that two other cast members saw the interaction and “are upset that crew members did not do more to stop the incident.”

Making Sense Of The Cancellation Of “Underground”

The critically acclaimed series Underground was canceled by WGN America this week, and Black Twitter is crying foul.

The show, produced by John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Company, trended on Twitter weekly and brought in record ratings for the burgeoning network when it premiered in March 2016. That mixed with the fact that it centered on the Underground Railroad and featured a predominantly black cast has many people unhappy, but the situation is more complicated than what could easily be pointed to as racism in Hollywood.

It all started in mid-April when WGN America canceled its highest-rated drama, Outsiders. Peter Kern, the president and CEO of Tribune Media, WGN’s parent company, gave the following explanation for the cancellation at the time: “We will be reallocating our resources to a more diverse programming strategy and to new structures, enabling us to expand both the quantity and breadth of content aired by WGN America.”

Some took the vague statement as a sign that WGN America was trying to spend less money on scripted series (it is expensive to make period pieces and shoot on location, as we just saw with Netflix’s The Get Down), while others remained optimistic that “more diverse programming” meant more racially diverse programming, like Underground.

That optimism started to die, though, when Sinclair Broadcast Group — the same media company that made deals with the Trump administration — bought Tribune Media in early May.

It’d be easy to point to that as the reason Underground, a highly publicized hit, got the axe, but the explanation Kern gave on Tuesday reflects his statement about Outsiders. “As WGN America evolves and broadens the scope and scale of its portfolio of series, we recently announced that resources will be reallocated to a new strategy to increase our relevance within the rapidly changing television landscape,” he said. “This move is designed to deliver additional value for our advertising and distribution partners and offer viewers more original content across our air.” TL;DR: Being in the business of prestige drama series is incredibly expensive, and WGN America cleaned house to increase the quantity of original shows on the network. (Underground reportedly costs $5 million per episode, according to The Hollywood Reporter.)

WGN America has only had four original scripted series to date, and Underground and Outsiders had marked an upswing for the network. They also had high-profile series in development, like Black Wall Street from Get Lifted and a TV adaptation of DC Comics’ Scalped.

While Underground showrunner Misha Green left the series a week after the Sinclair deal to run Jordan Peele’s new HBO series, Legend still holds onto hope that another network will pick up the groundbreaking series…and he tweeted a not-so-veiled warning about Sinclair.

Sony Pictures Television, which distributes Underground, has a history of saving shows — Community went from NBC to Yahoo Screen, and Damages went from FX to DirecTV Audience Network but because Hulu has exclusive subscription video-on-demand rights to Underground, it might not end up surviving.

When contacted by BuzzFeed News, Sony TV did not have a comment about the future of the series or the reasons behind the cancellation. Legend and Get Lifted did not immediately reply to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.

How “Shots Fired” Kept The Fight For Social Justice Alive

When Fox first announced the limited-run series Shots Fired, Barack Obama was president, Loretta Lynch was in charge of the Department of Justice, and the tragic deaths of black people in the US, like Alton Sterling and Terence Crutcher, at the hands of cops put police and prison reform at the forefront of national conversation. Fast-forward seven months, one Trump inauguration, and 10 episodes later, when Shots Fired, which explored the relationship between law enforcement and civilians, came to a striking conclusion in a very different environment. From March through May, it seemed like the longest and most nuanced discussion about discrimination against black people was happening on the series.

While there are subjects Shots Fired only touched on, like Twitter’s role in social justice, husband-and-wife producing team Gina Prince-Bythewood and Reggie Rock Bythewood captured many subtleties in their exploration of community organization. In its story of two DOJ employees investigating the shootings of two unarmed teenagers (one white, one black), Shots Fired addressed both the way the black community tends to feel — no matter how they organize, it’ll be an issue for conservative America — and how criticisms of black people protesting often steer close to respectability politics.

Throughout its run, Shots Fired showed step by step how tension within the fictional Gate Station, North Carolina, bubbled up until riots erupted in the “The Fire This Time” episode, directed by the late Jonathan Demme. Rock Bythewood told BuzzFeed News the riot was a moment earned after the first half of the series provided “insight into the frustration that a community can feel leading to that.” He added that he and Prince-Bythewood were “inspired by the Dr. King quote, ‘A riot is a language of the unheard,’” a concept they embraced throughout the series.

Another moment that toed the line of those respectability politics was when Shameeka Campbell (DeWanda Wise), the mother of one of the slain teenagers the show focused on, scolded her fellow protesters for suggesting another riot after a court decision did not go in her favor. The moment didn’t suggest Shameeka was diminishing the crowd’s anger, but rather focused on her awakening as an activist, Rock Bythewood noted. To create the character of Shameeka, the couple visited and had conversations with Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant III, who was killed by police on a BART Station platform after a cop mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of his taser. Shameeka represented all the mothers of slain unarmed black civilians who were “thrust into the limelight and had to transition from being mothers to activists,” Rock Bythewood said.

The Bythewoods also took inspiration from a real-life case in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the sheriff’s department had a program through which wealthy donors were given police-issued guns and tasers, and the chance to police black neighborhoods, until one of the participants, referred to as “reserve deputies,” killed an unarmed man — and the sheriff’s department staged a massive coverup. Rock Bythewood said that while the investigation brought the sheriff down, “clearly there were a lot of people within the police department that knew about it and covered it up.”

One of the biggest rewards for Rock Bythewood in making Shots Fired was the way it resonated with people in that Tulsa community. “There’s a former DOJ official who is working to use Shots Fired as learning tool for police officers, and we love that,” Rock Bythewood said. “It’s something that we never saw coming, but that would be very gratifying.”

Prince-Bythewood said she and Rock Bythewood were not interested in creating a television series; it wasn’t even on their radar. But with the recent popularity of limited series like Top of the Lake and True Detective, the Bythewoods realized TV would give them the space to tell the stories they had been developing in a more fruitful way. “The fact that we had this opportunity to tell a story like this about the subject matter the way we wanted to tell it. … It’s just been a really incredible experience,” Prince-Bythewood said. Rock Bythewood used to think that there were things film could do that television just couldn’t. “But in this limited series, it’s actually flipped,” he said. “What we’re able to do in this limited series is something we couldn’t do in film.” The plan was to look at Shots Fired as “as a 10-hour film, a 10-hour series,” Prince-Bythewood said. “That dictated the way we wrote it and the way we cast it, the directors that we brought in.”

The Bythewoods needed the extra hours to dissect the complicated issues Shots Fired ultimately tackles. By the finale — which aired on May 24 and cut between the court decisions for the indictments of the teen boys’ killers and flashbacks of what actually happened those nights — they had successfully “dug deep into all the characters and gave them all great arcs, gave every character a beginning, middle, and end,” Rock Bythewood said.

Even though Shots Fired is over, Rock Bythewood said the bigger fight is not. The Department of Justice under Lynch, he said, knew to “not just speak with officers, but to speak with members of the community, speak with activists that are really concerned with policing in communities of color,” and to start “looking at various police departments and their patterns of practice.” But, Rock Bythewood added, “it is very important for people to be mindful of the fact that Jeff Sessions is pulling back on that.”