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Katori Hall’s ‘P-Valley’ Brings Hollywood to the Dirty South

written by Kimberly Jones

Memphis native Katori Hall is no stranger to success in the entertainment industry. Hall is an award-winning playwright best known for her hit Broadway play The Mountaintop about Martin Luther King Jr’s last night before his assassination. The Mountaintop had a successful run on Broadway and starred Hollywood heavyweights Samuel L Jackson and Angela Bassett. But Hall has switched gears and has a new title – showrunner. P-Valley, written and produced by Hall, is a drama about the highs and lows strippers face in the Mississippi Delta. The setting for the drama alone is unique, P-Valley is in a fictional town of Chucalissa Mississippi, a small dying town with abandoned buildings, houses, and storefronts. It seems like an odd place for a strip club to be located but there is so much culture in the characters. The story blends well and is an accurate representation of southern culture. From the dialogue to the music, P-Valley sheds light on parts of the South that are often overlooked. The debut episode features the song Nobody by Playa Fly, which is a Memphis anthem, and pays homage to Memphis rappers who have had a large influence the on hip-hop sound that we have today.

At the beginning of the series, Autumn (played by UK actress Elarica Johnson) is washed ashore in Houston and seems to be trying to escape her past life all while concealing her identity. She arrives in the small town looking for work, and gets a job at the Pynk strip club after an amateur night. Autumn is a rookie in need of money, so she dives in but always keeps her distance from the other girls. In flashbacks she somewhat reflects on her past life with a child and her partner. Her real story, however, is yet to be revealed. Autumn has tried to remain lowkey but cannot avoid butting heads with Mercedes, the veteran of the group, played by another Memphis native Brandee Evans (The Bobby Brown Story).

Mercedes’ bad girl attitude, amazing skills on the pole and confidence sets her apart from the other ladies at Pynk. Evans, who is a professional dancer/choreographer, does an amazing job of making Mercedes both memorable and relatable. Although Mercedes is planning to hang up her stripper boots and leave Pynk soon the rivalry with Autumn is fueled by jealousy, insecurities, and colorism. In both episodes, Autumn’s skin tone is referenced because she has fairer skin than the other ladies. Some of the clients that come into the club prefer Autumn over Mercedes and, although Autumn is inexperienced, she is making more money than her counterparts. Hall does a good job of subtly addressing colorism and how it has an effect on black women every day.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of P-Valley is Pynk’s owner Uncle Clifford (Nicco Annan Claws) a non-binary queer who identifies as she, provides comic relief and steals every single scene. Uncle Clifford’s slick mouth, loud clothes and boss attitude is just what TV has been missing and with her quick punch lines there is never a dull moment. As much as Uncle Clifford is trying to keep it a secret, she is in jeopardy of losing Pynk and is having some serious financial struggles. Her hustling skills include everything from car washes to selling hot wings seasoned with weed. There is no doubt she will figure something out.

P-Valley is in a lane of its own. The story and struggles of these women are both eccentric and intriguing. The freshman drama is a breath of fresh air for television. In a time when a lot of dramas have familiar story lines, this change is good for viewers. Hall’s vision and talented cast is a perfect combination for this newest STARZ hit.

P-Valley airs Sundays nights on STARZ.

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“I Feel Really Bad That He (Smith) Never Apologized”, Chris Rock’s Mother Talks The Oscars Incident

Comedian Chris Rock’s mother Rose Rock spoke about Will Smith slapping her son. She shared her thoughts during her recent interview on WIS’ Billie Jean Shaw.

“You reacted to your wife giving you the side-eye, and you went and made her day because she was mulled over laughing when it happened,” Mrs. Rock said.

According to the mother, her son was looking forward to giving Questlove his Academy Award, and because of Smith, that moment was taken away. “When he slapped Chris, he slapped all of us. He really slapped me. No one even heard his speech. No one was able to just be in the moment because everyone was sitting there like, ‘What just happened?”

Rock’s mother admitted that she initially thought the slap was a skit, but when she heard Will Smith screaming from his seat afterward, she realized it was real.  Rose said she reached out to her son after the incident to make sure he was okay and to commend him on his restraint. 

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‘Martin’ 30th Anniversary Reunion: Here is What We Know

It’s been 30 years since Martin made its TV debut on Fox. And, here we are, three decades later, about to relive some of the most hilarious and memorable moments of the 90s sitcom together with Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold, and Carl Anthony Payne II.

“To be able to sit here 30 years later with this amazing cast that has had such an impact on pop culture is truly a blessing,” Lawrence told Deadline. “I am always humbled that the fans still want more of the show and its characters. I am looking forward to the reunion special.”

The taping of the special episode took place last month. Here is what we know so far.

The anniversary episode was filmed on Feb. 20 and will launch on BET+ this summer.

Talk of a reunion of sorts has been going on for a minute, as Arnold and Campbell previously appeared on the Tamron Hall Show last April and revealed that the show likely won’t have a reboot following Ford’s death. Arnold said that  “a show can never be a reboot without the original cast,” but that a reunion was “maybe” possible. (source: complex)

The special will focus on the show’s origin and evolution. Hosted by comedian-actor Affion Crockett, the episode will feature interviews with the cast, original directors, special musical performances, and behind-the-scenes commentary of the show’s influence. (source: ABC News)

The anniversary special is also scheduled to feature some “surprise guests.” Celebrity guests stopped by during the taping, including Tracy Morgan, Kim Coles, Chris Rock, Snoop Dogg, and more. (source: The Grio)

It’s still unclear how the reunion plans to honor castmate Thomas Mikal Ford, who died back in 2016. (source: complex)

Martin, which premiered in 1992, starred Lawrence – who played various characters, Campbell as Martin’s girlfriend and later his wife, Gina; Arnold as Gina’s best friend, Pam; and Martin’s two best friends Cole (Payne) and Tommy (played by the late Thomas Ford). The series concluded with season five namely due to the tensions between the two main cast members. People reported, Campbell sued Lawrence for “repeated and escalating sexual harassment, sexual battery, verbal abuse and related threats” in 1997. The two later reconciled, with Campbell announcing in 2020 that she was “so glad that we’re in a good place right now.”

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‘Master’: Regina Hall Stars in New Horror Movie

Amazon Studios debuted the official trailer for its upcoming thriller titled Master, starring Regina Hall. The film first premiered during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters and on Prime Video on Friday, March 18.

Written and directed by Mariama Diallo, Master tells the story of three women who strive to find their place at a prestigious New England university whose frosty elitism may disguise something more sinister. Professor Gail Bishop (Hall) has recently been promoted to “Master” of a residence hall, the first time at storied Ancaster College that a Black woman has held the post.

Master REGINA HALL

Determined to breathe new life into a centuries-old tradition, Gail soon finds herself wrapped up in the trials and tribulations of Jasmine Moore (Zoe Renee), an energetic and optimistic Black freshman. Jasmine’s time at Ancaster hits a snag early on when she’s assigned a dorm room that is rumored to be haunted. Things get worse when Jasmine clashes in the classroom with Liv Beckman (Amber Gray), a professor in the middle of her own racially charged tenure review. As Gail tries to maintain order and fulfill the duties of a Master, the cracks begin to show in Ancaster’s once-immaculate facade. After a career spent fighting to make it into Ancaster’s inner circle, Gail is confronted with the horrifying prospect of what lies beneath, her question ultimately becoming not whether the school is haunted but by whom.

Watch the trailer below.

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