See Robert Townsend’s ‘Making The Five Heartbeats’ For a Master Class On the Business of Entertainment

The Five Heartbeats are back.

No, award-winning actor, comedian, and filmmaker Robert Townsend has not created a sequel or a remake of his 1991 classic about the rise and fall of a 1960s R&B vocal group. In fact, he’s developed a new documentary, Making The Five Heartbeats, sharing an instructive and inspiring journey expected to resonate with fans who can’t get enough of the movie as well as entrepreneurs in pursuit of their dream business.  On Monday, Aug. 27, they will discover how he achieved this milestone when Fathom Events presents the theatrical release in nearly 500 AMC movie theaters nationwide for a single screening at 7 p.m. local time, through its Digital Broadcast Network (DBN).

At select theatres nationwide—from Philadelphia to Crenshaw—audiences will also view an exclusive welcome from Townsend as well as gain the opportunity to participate in talkbacks with Townsend and cast members, including Heartbeats Leon Robinson, Michael Wright, Harry Lennix, Tico  Wells, and John Canada Terrell.

The Chicago native says of the project: “It’s one part a master class with Robert Townsend. But then on the other side, it’s for anybody who says, ‘What does it take to make something that is now a classic? How much energy did you put into it?’ And as an entrepreneur that wants to build something, what does it take to build that? What kind of obstacles will I have to overcome to get there? And when does my faith come into it? So it’s all of these elements tied into this one documentary.”

The film was released in 1991 at the height of a cinematic era dubbed “The Black Film Renaissance.’ During that year, roughly 17 films directed by African Americans opened in theaters, more than in the entire previous decade. Unlike large numbers of films that dealt with criminality and gang violence—Boyz N The Hood, New Jack City, and Straight out of Brooklyn—Townsend’s tale has stood out as a touching, multidimensional musical drama. Inspired by The Dells, the legendary, soulful quintet that produced such timeless classics as ‘Oh What A Night’ and ‘Stay In My Corner,’ the film resonated with audiences due to themes tied to aspirational sacrifice and unshakable brotherhood. At the same time, the film, co-written by Townsend and In Living Color creator Keenan Ivory Wayans, had healthy helpings of humor and a heart-stirring soundtrack in which two songs, “Nights Like This” and “A Heart is A House for Love” became Top 20 hits on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles Chart some 27 years ago.


Although Townsend, one of four recipients of BLACK ENTERPRISE’s XCEL Award at the 2017 Black Men XCEL Summit, admits that the film didn’t perform well at the box office, which garnered gross receipts of $ 8.75 million, the entrepreneur who financed his first film, Hollywood Shuffle, with his savings and a wallet packed full of credit cards, used his creativity and savvy to develop offshoot vehicles to capture new audiences. After more than three decades of creating films that have told different, unique stories of African American life—in fact, Meteor Man, the first black superhero film he created and helmed is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year—Townsend talked with BLACK ENTERPRISE Editor-In-Chief Derek T. Dingle about his mission to produce his most personal film to date..

Why did you think it was important to develop a documentary about the making of The Five Heartbeats at this time?

Fans really love The Five Heartbeats. Everywhere I go, people talk about The Five Heartbeats. Out of all the movies and television shows I’ve done, that’s the one that people want to know: How did you do auditions? Why did you cast that person and how did you direct it? Can there be a sequel to The Five Heartbeats?

I started to think about my journey to make the movie. There’s so much drama that went on behind the scenes, and people think it was just smooth sailing. I should share these stories because they love the movie so much, and maybe it’s another way to give the fans an insight into my process. This will be the first time I will really let people into my creative process. But also, I think it’s exciting to hear about the roller coaster ride to make The Five Heartbeats.

Does the film also explore the business process such as film financing and marketing?

The film goes into that because nobody wanted to make The Five Heartbeats. The money that I needed to finance it became part of the problem. The documentary also goes into the marketing side of the film because a lot of people don’t know that the movie bombed at the box office. We didn’t do well. It takes you on the ride of what went wrong with its marketing, the trailer, the timing. And then it is also a lesson on how word-of-mouth is the best advertising. From a business side, it gives you a glimpse into how you finish this film that you think is brilliant and it didn’t work…but then it worked. So there are lessons on marketing and the business of show business.

How much did it cost to produce the film? Did you meet budget or did you have to scale back your larger vision?

I started with Hollywood Shuffle; that was done for no money at all. I went from no money to a budget of $ 8.7 million. That’s a lot of money but it’s a little bit of money when you’re trying to do a period piece where you’ve got to make sure that everything—the cars on the street, the hairstyles, the wardrobe—looks like 1965. So your budget gets turned upside down because you’re recreating the look. So on that front, I didn’t have all the money in the world. I had a lot more than I had been used to. And because I was going after this classic, I took way too much time and got in trouble with the budget of the film. In the documentary, you’ll see what happened due to the pressure I was under because I was over budget.

So how challenging was producing this documentary?

Creating the documentary was a lot of trial and error. I started working on this about 10 years ago. I thought I knew what the documentary was going to be but then it started to take me in different directions. This is when you just got to listen to your creative voice. First, it was going to be just a straight-ahead documentary where everybody just talks about how the movie was made. Then I said, I’m not going deep enough.

There were certain things that only I knew. Like the actors, they know about the filming and the release of it. They didn’t know about the studio, the late nights when the phone calls to hear that you don’t have any money or ‘We don’t like that scene, cut it.’ We got into the director-producer realm, and I couldn’t share with anybody the pressure and stress that I was under to make the film. So as I looked at the documentary again, I said, ‘No, Robert, you’ve got to talk about these business lessons that are going on behind the scenes and how you had to negotiate and be strategic in giving and taking what really mattered to you. Then when do you put all your cards on the table and say ‘you’ve got to do it my way or I’m out.’ It’s the art of negotiating as a filmmaker to get your baby born. All of that changed the documentary and made me take a longer time because I wasn’t ready to tell the real story.

When the original film came out,  you found different techniques in terms of marketing and outreach to new audiences to make it a success. Did that experience evolve into an ongoing strategic approach to extending creative properties and make connections with audiences beyond a given film?

I think that I’ve always been kind of a serial entrepreneur. I’ve always looked at unique opportunities. I’ve always been fearless in taking chances and trying new things. With The Five Heartbeats, my vision has always been huge where I can say, ‘the movie lives in one universe but there could be a road show that we could take with The Dells.’ And that’s what I did, I created a revue. Right now, Keenan and I have been working behind the scenes on the Broadway show. We want to create The Five Heartbeats brand and take it to Broadway like Dreamgirls. So that’s another part of the vision.

What role has digital technology played in the brand building process?

I just think as an artist, with all the new moving pieces of content, there is a way now with social media to connect to your audience. From a marketing point of view, I have been tweeting every day and using different social media platforms to promote this documentary. It’s been interesting to watch because just on my tweeting alone, I have been able to engage close to 1 million people. So the game has changed, and I’m still learning.

What other aspects would you like to share about this production?

Though the documentary is about the making of The Five Heartbeats, it’s really an inspirational journey for every dreamer that wanted to give birth to an original idea. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s just seen through the eyes of a filmmaker of color. So I think that for entrepreneurs who want to be inspired and see a journey that is not for the faint of heart, this is the ticket for them.

Watch the trailer for Making the Five Heartbeats

The post See Robert Townsend’s ‘Making The Five Heartbeats’ For a Master Class On the Business of Entertainment appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise


Marvel Entertainment Chair Ike Perlmutter and two other Mar-a-Lago cronies are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies: Pro Publica

Overpriced drugs whose actual costs are hidden from doctors and patients can hit shelves, ProPublica reports.
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Lawyer Creates Website For Diversity in the Entertainment Field

Attorney Jaia Thomas decided that there needed to be one central location to find diverse talent when it came to staffing up behind-the-scene teams in the entertainment industry. Up until this point, one was left to put staffs together piecemeal, which for the most part, came by way of recommendations from industry peers.

Thomas launched the platform, succinctly titled, Diverse Representation, which is a comprehensive database featuring African American entertainment agents, attorneys, managers, and publicists. She has currently focused the list on the Los Angeles area but the plan is to grow and scale it nationally, hitting two other major talent hubs next. “Over the next several months the database will grow to include other markets such as New York and Atlanta,” stated Thomas.


(Image: Diverse Representation)


Diverse Representation was created to expand the conversation surrounding diversity in the entertainment industry. “Oftentimes, when we speak about diversity in the entertainment industry it is limited to the perspective of those names and faces we see on screen,” said Thomas. “Rarely do we speak about it from the perspective of those doing the legwork behind the screen who represent those talents by negotiating fair deals and fostering relationships for future work.”

There are still gaping racial disparities when it comes to those hired to represent talent and there are several layers to this. Not only is the lack of representation coming from the talent hiring a diverse team, but it also hails from the network and studio side. This list will hopefully provide awareness of who is out there.

Some prominent names found on the list include Dana Sims from ICM Partners, Nina Shaw from Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano, and Everett Johnson from Williams Morris Endeavor who have been known to represent some of Hollywood’s most successful African American talent.

To check out the full directory, click here.

The post Lawyer Creates Website For Diversity in the Entertainment Field appeared first on Black Enterprise.

Lifestyle | Black Enterprise



Do you stay up late waiting for Game of Thrones recaps to go online? Did you spend hours obsessing over all the hints you missed in Get Out? Are you still completely obsessed with Harry Potter? We’re all entertainment geeks here at EW, and we’re looking for recent graduates who are as passionate about pop culture as we are. We need you to be well-versed in at least one of the areas we cover (TV, movies, music, and books).

Daily responsibilities include writing news posts for the website and some typical entry-level tasks, such as opening mail, transcribing interviews, fact-checking for print, and monitoring online feedback. A motivated intern will also have the opportunity to write TV recaps, report stories for the magazine, learn our print fact-checking procedures, cover red carpets, attend movie screenings, and more.

This isn’t an internship for someone who thinks they might be interested in entertainment journalism; it’s an internship for someone who lives and breathes pop culture. The ideal candidate will have impeccable research, reporting, and writing skills, and will already have completed at least one internship.

WHEN: 4-6 months, beginning April 2018; 40 hours/week, including some night and weekend hours, at $ 12/hour

WHERE: Los Angeles

HOW TO APPLY: Please send a résumé, cover letter, and 3-5 previously published clips to

DEADLINE: Friday, March 23, 2018

Entertainment Weekly


Kendrick Lamar, Dangeroo Kipawaa, and Top Dawg Entertainment…

Kendrick Lamar, Dangeroo Kipawaa, and Top Dawg Entertainment will curate and produce “Black Panther: The Album, Music from and Inspired by the Film,” including lead single “All the Stars” by SZA. Listen to the single now:

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The Top 10 BAW Entertainment Stories Of 2018

When you think about 2017, there were a lot of big entertainment stories. There was the implosion of the careers of Russell Simmons and Tavis Smiley due to sexual misconduct allegations. There was Beyonce’s babies, Jay-Z’s album and tour and the engagement of a sitting British royal to a divorced, biracial actress commoner named Meghan Markle. But what did BAW readers care about the most this year? Not any of those celebrities.

They cared about RHOA’s Sheree Whitfield and her dream house, Chateau Sheree. Yes, Sheree and her dream house was the top story on this year. You also seem to be quite fascinated by nude celebrities as Celebs Who’ve Posed Nude was our top photo gallery. Hey, we’re a family site! Here is a list of the stories you read most in 2017.

Sheree Whitfield’s Dream House

Was it finished? Did she have to sell it? What was really going on with Chateau Sheree? That’s what you wanted to know. Mind you, this was of more interest to people than the fact that Sheree was dating an incarcerated man. 

Entertainment – Black America Web


Comedian Louis C.K. admits sexual misconduct, entertainment outlets cut ties

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – U.S. comedian Louis C.K. on Friday admitted to sexual misconduct allegations made against him by several women, and television and film companies moved quickly to sever ties.
Reuters: People News


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Award-Winning Media Exec Amy DuBois Barnett Joins Bryon Allen’s Entertainment Studios and theGrio

Amy DuBois Barnett

Media executive and award-winning writer Amy DuBois Barnett has been named executive vice president of Digital at Entertainment Studios Inc. as well as the chief content officer of the company’s digital media platform theGrio.


Amy DuBois Barnett (Image: Instagram/AmyDuBoisBarnett)


DuBois Barnett, who was a featured speaker at the BLACK ENTERPRISE 2016 Women of Power Summit, has held senior positions at a number of leading publications. Most recently, she helped lead the development and launch of ESPN’s off-shoot The Undefeated, which premiered in 2014. Prior to ESPN, DuBois Barnett was editor-in-chief of Ebony, where she helped restructure the iconic lifestyle magazine and revamped its website. DuBois Barnett also served as the deputy editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, where she was responsible for overseeing both print and digital editorial teams and helped re-launch the brand’s digital platform. At the beginning of her career, she was editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Honey magazine. During her stint, she landed one of the last interviews with Aaliyah before the singer’s untimely death in 2001. From there, she went on to become the managing editor of Teen People.

Bryon Allen, the founder and CEO of Entertainment Studios, which acquired theGrio in June 2016, praised DuBois Barnett and alluded that the company plans to continue to expand.

“With our motion picture, cable, broadcast television, and digital platform divisions expanding at such a rapid pace, we are totally committed to exploring additional opportunities for acquisitions, content production, and building our assets worldwide,” said Allen in a statement released Thursday. “Amy DuBois Barnett is the perfect addition to our global media company. We are thrilled to have her join our team, and to lead the expansion of theGrio.”

DuBois Barnett, who will report to the Entertainment Studios headquarters in Los Angeles, said she is excited about her new role and helping theGrio expand its reach through digital video production.

“Byron Allen has been breaking ground in the entertainment business for years, and now that he has set his sights on digital media, this is an ideal time to join his company. I am excited by the challenge of taking theGrio, Entertainment Studios’ first digital acquisition, to the next level,” said DuBois Barnett. “I will be focused on creating the dominant video-centric hub for African American perspectives—and on developing a larger digital strategy for ES.”

DuBois Barnett is also the author of the NAACP Image Award-nominated advice book, Get Yours: How to Have Everything You Ever Dreamed of and More.

Career – Black Enterprise


Josh Duhamel, James Franco Turn Death Into Entertainment in ‘The Show’ Trailer

In The Show, a thriller directed by Giancarlo Esposito (of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul fame), Josh Duhamel plays Adam Rogers, a reality show host who finds himself in an unusual situation.

Rogers is a Chris Harrison-like figure who hosts a dating show that ends in an attempted murder, wherein the runner-up tries to shoot and kill the winner.

As a result

This article originally appeared on Josh Duhamel, James Franco Turn Death Into Entertainment in ‘The Show’ Trailer

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Ne-Yo Discusses the Fine Line Between Tech and Entertainment


In the wake of the backlash against Silicon Valley over the lack of diversity in the tech industry, several tech companies have made an effort to open doors to more people of color. For example, at this year’s American Black Film Festival (ABFF), Google hosted a panel discussion titled Decoding Tech: The Next Generation of STEAM Professionals, which addressed the importance of technology as it pertains to entertainment and diversity as a whole.


Google (From the Decoding Tech: The Next Generation of STEAM Professionals panel, presented by Google, during ABFF 2017. Image: Courtesy of ABFF.)


Held at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, BLACK ENTERPRISE Editor-in-Chief Derek Dingle kicked off the panel with opening remarks. Then, Valeisha Butterfield-Jones, head of black community engagement at Google, introduced the panelists, which included Ne-Yo, a Grammy award-winning musician and tech investor; Mekka Okereke, an engineering manager at Google; Emmie Louis, a core team member from Black Girls Code; and Marcella Araica, an award-winning mixing engineer. The panel was moderated by Daraiha Greene, Google’s multicultural strategy lead on CS education in media.

During the discussion, panelists addressed the integration of technology with arts and media, and how this combination has impacted their careers. They also spoke about what it means to be a person of color who works in the tech industry. Ne-Yo argued that part of the reason why there weren’t more people of color working in the tech was due to a lack of knowledge regarding the prerequisites for hiring within this industry, as well as a general lack of awareness about what the industry has to offer overall. An investor in the Holberton School, Ne-Yo actively helps facilitate the education of underrepresented minority youth on tech fundamentals.

“Little boys from the hood don’t say, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to be a coder,’” he said during the panel, adding that though these children might be playing video games, they are not making them. “But, I’m trying to change that,” he continued.


Google (Ne-Yo and Marcella Araica. Image: Courtesy of ABFF)


Okereke also revealed that he has experienced racial profiling in the tech industry, even while walking around the Google campus where he works. Additionally, Greene stressed the importance of spotlighting people of color in tech, and not just for the sake of modifying the current perception of the tech industry. If these achievements were highlighted on a more consistent basis, then these people could serve as positive role models for minority youth to look up to. This could, in turn, could encourage more children of color to explore tech as a plausible future career path.

In an interview following the discussion, Butterfield-Jones, an organizer of the panel, told BLACK ENTERPRISE why Google decided to sponsor this year’s ABFF, stating that the purpose of the panel was to demonstrate “the range of opportunities for people of color in tech.”



“We wanted to demystify what it means to work in the tech industry. Whether someone aspires to be a music producer, or an engineer in the television and film industry; there is a space for you to do that in the tech world. If you think about the television and film industry, you guys are the gatekeepers to our community. So, if we want to change the face of tech, we have to consider strong media partnerships. ABFF is the destination to go, if you want to engage with talented filmmakers, television producers, executives, and writers,” Butterfield-Jones said.

“I hope every attendee walked away [from this panel] with a better understanding of how they can work in the tech industry—not just as an employee, but also as an entrepreneur,” she added.


Google (From left to right: Derek T. Dingle, Daraiha Greene, Ne-Yo, Marcella Araica, Mekka Okereke, Emmie Louis, and Valeisha Butterfield-Jones. Image: Courtesy of ABFF)
Lifestyle – Black Enterprise


12 Of The Most Shocking Entertainment Stories Of 2016

Over the past 12 months, the world has thrown some pretty hard punches our way, often leaving us all in a state of shock or disbelief.

In January, we lost music legend David Bowie, and a few months later, Prince followed him to the stars. Then, Hollywood’s most famous union fell apart. Yep, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie split, and it wasn’t pretty. Of course, no year would be complete without some Kardashian kontroversies, and 2016 was full of them. 

Check out our list below for 12 of the year’s most shocking moments in entertainment. 

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Style – The Huffington Post
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