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Kenya Barris is easily one of the greatest screenwriters of our times. As the creator of black-ish he has introduced mainstream audiences to poignant questions and commentary on race, class, gender, and social inequalities. His most controversial episode, however, Please Baby, Please, was shelved indefinitely in part due to its anti-Trump sentiments compounded with footage from the Charleston 9 shooting, being narrated by Spike Lee, and the kneeling movement began by Colin Kaepernick. After being silent for well over a year and opting to leave ABC for Netflix, he is finally breaking his silence on the controversial episode, his Netflix deal, and other difficulties that led to his departure from the Walt Disney owned company.

Kenya spoke in depth with The Hollywood Reporter about all of his above mentioned issues. You can catch a snippet of it below:

kenya barris the hollywood reporter

When Kenya Barris sat down last fall to write an episode of his ABC comedy Black-ish, titled “Please, Baby, Please,” he had a sense it might stir up trouble.

The setup was relatively simple: Dre, the Johnson family patriarch played by Anthony Anderson, was telling his infant son, Devante, a bedtime story that reflected on the events of his first year on the planet. It was, per multiple sources, a mix of political allegory (an animated fairy tale about a character named The Shady King) and actuality (news footage of Donald Trump, the Charlottesville attacks and the NFL kneeling protests). “When you’re putting a baby to sleep, you’re trying to soothe whatever anxieties they’re having,” says Barris, speaking for the first time about the controversial episode. “So, this was about me trying to pat the butt of the country and soothe people.”

“Please, Baby, Please,” which was supposed to air in the back half of the Emmy-nominated series’ fourth season, was shot in wide angle, with very little score. Production is said to have upped its usual episode budget of $3 million or so, spending handsomely on rights and clearances for such things as the Sam Cooke ballad “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which Barris personally met with Cooke’s goddaughter to secure. He enlisted a high-profile illustrator, too, and hired his hero Spike Lee to do voiceover, since the episode took its title and inspiration from a children’s book written by Lee and his wife. Rather than focus on the entire Johnson clan, as Black-ish typically does, the episode centered primarily on Dre and his interpretation of real-world events presented to his son as a form of catharsis. As a father of six, Barris has had plenty of experience calming children at bedtime.

“We approached it with the network and the studio as, ‘This is different,'” says the 44-year-old showrunner. “We certainly knew people would talk about it.”

The episode did, in fact, get people talking, if not for the reason Barris anticipated. Mere days before its scheduled Feb. 27 air date, “Please, Baby, Please” was mysteriously and indefinitely shelved. While Barris is strategic with his choice of words — careful never to utter the phrase “censorship” as others throughout the industry do — the move turned out to be the last straw in his long-standing and already complicated relationship with The Walt Disney Co. “I don’t know that I would have been as useful to them as they’d need me to be after that,” he offers. Those in his cast are far less diplomatic. Tracee Ellis Ross has called the decision “frightening,” while Anderson suggests it was a personal affront. “He’d given his blood, sweat and tears to [the episode], which they had signed off on every step of the way — from the outline, to the script, to the table read, to the point where they actually spent the money and made the episode,” says the actor, who’s also an executive producer. “And I don’t know what those conversations were, but we entered into this partnership with the understanding that we would be able to tell the stories that we wanted to tell.”

Anderson was first informed of the decision by Barris and his manager only four or five days before the episode was supposed to run. He, like much of the cast, was shocked, and more than a little confused. What Barris hadn’t told his actors was that he’d been quietly locked in battle over the episode’s fate for weeks. There’d been a flurry of back-and-forths with executives as high up as CEO Bob Iger, who called Barris from home, sick with laryngitis, and, per two sources, had a reasoned conversation with the showrunner about the political sensitivities of being a broadcast network in 2018. Executives at ABC, more than any other network, have been forthright about their desire for more red-state programming since Trump’s win — and with Barris’ latest episode, they feared they’d be alienating the very population they’d tried so hard to court. That Disney brass wouldn’t want to poke Trump himself just as the company was seeking Justice Department approval of its acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox is widely believed to have been a factor as well.

You can read the entire interview in depth by clicking here.

Whatever Kenya touches is going to be gold. We are not surprised Disney opted to shelve his episode to ensure that Fox deal went through. Money rules all they say, and it is evident around us. We cannot wait to see what he brings to Netflix! We are sure it will be just good as good–if not better–than anything he has ever done for ABC/Disney!

Celebrity News

[VIDEO] Jussie Smollett Allegedly Staged Attack Over Salary Dispute, Chicago Police Chief BLASTS Him & Confirms Hate Letter was Fake! Jussie’s Mugshot Posted!

Jussie Smollett’s story is getting uglier by the moment. Not only has he been arrested, but his mugshot has been posted and it is alleged he staged the attack over dissatisfaction with his salary on Empire. This, according to police, prompted the orchestration, paying the alleged attackers $3500! Jussie surrendered to the Chicago Police Department earlier this morning, and has since been arrested. His mugshot is now flooding the internet. Chicago Police Chief, Eddie Johnson, in a press conference blasted Smollett, citing the resources and manpower this case has taken from other investigations. He also confirmed the alleged threatening letter Jussie received prior to his alleged attack was fabricated.

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jussie smollett mugshot

Jussie Smollett’s story is getting uglier by the moment. Not only has he been arrested, but his mugshot has been posted and it is alleged he staged the attack over dissatisfaction with his salary on Empire. This, according to police, prompted the orchestration, paying the alleged attackers $3500! Jussie surrendered to the Chicago Police Department earlier this morning, and has since been arrested. His mugshot is now flooding the internet. Chicago Police Chief, Eddie Johnson, in a press conference blasted Smollett, citing the resources and manpower this case has taken from other investigations. He also confirmed the alleged threatening letter Jussie received prior to his alleged attack was fabricated.

jussie smollett arrested

via National Review

“Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” Johnson said. “This publicity stunt was a scar that Chicago didn’t earn, and certainly didn’t deserve.”

Johnson went on to explain that the two Nigerian brothers hired by Smollett to carry out the hoax told police he hoped the staged attack would be financially beneficial.

“The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary,” Johnson said.

via Entertainment Weekly

He further shared that the Empire star was behind the threatening letter that he had previously received and when that didn’t get the reaction he wanted, Smollett paid $3,500 to Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, who he knew through the hit Fox series. Detective Edward Wodnicki then went through the entire timeline, going inside the entire investigation. Smollett will be going in front of a judge at 2:30 p.m. ET.

This is overwhelming. We seriously doubt any police chief would come forward to do a press conference and state all of this so boldly if they did not have a substantial amount of evidence against Jussie. Honestly, this is heartwrenching, disappointing, confusing. Two words–Jussie, why?

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Celebrity News

It Begins…Jussie Smollett ARRESTED Following Felony Charge in Alleged Orchestrated Hate Crime Case

It is a dark day indeed for Jussie Smollett, his family, friends, and fans. The Empire actor has now been arrested for the felony charge of filing a false police report which could earn him probation or one to three years of jail time! Jussie has surrendered to the police, and is now being taken into custody!

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jussie smollett arrested

It is a dark day indeed for Jussie Smollett, his family, friends, and fans. The Empire actor has now been arrested for the felony charge of filing a false police report which could earn him probation or one to three years of jail time! Jussie has surrendered to the police, and is now being taken into custody!

via CNN

jussie smollett

More than three weeks after he alleged that he was the victim of a hate crime, actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested on suspicion of filing a false report about it, Chicago police said Thursday morning.

The “Empire” star was taken into custody around 5 a.m. CT, police said, ahead of a 1:30 p.m. bail hearing.
Smollett faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming he was attacked by two men, including one who was masked, in the early morning of January 29 in Chicago. He alleged they yelled racist and homophobic slurs, tied a rope around his neck and poured an unknown substance on him.
At the time, police said they were treating the attack against the black and gay actor as a hate crime.
But in the weeks since the alleged attack first made headlines, the narrative has unraveled with several twists, transforming him from a victim to a suspect.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Wednesday that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office had approved a felony criminal charge of disorderly conduct against Smollett.
It is about to go down. Jussie we hope you are prayed up and “lawyer-ed” up!

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Celebrity News

YIKES! Jussie Smollett Charged w/ Felony for Filing A False Police Report, “Empire” Now Contemplates His Suspension!

We really would like to “say it ain’t so,” but apparently it is. It is also official that Jussie Smollett is now being charged with a felony for filing a false police report. In legal jargon, his charge is a Class 4 Felony and if found guilty, he could possibly receive probation or up to 3 years in  jail time.Adding insult to injury, and unsurprisingly, sources close to Fox are stating that Empire is now contemplating suspending him from the series.

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jussie smollett

We really would like to “say it ain’t so,” but apparently it is. It is also official that Jussie Smollett is now being charged with a felony for filing a false police report. In legal jargon, his charge is a Class 4 Felony and if found guilty, he could possibly receive probation or up to 3 years in  jail time.Adding insult to injury, and unsurprisingly, sources close to Fox are stating that Empire is now contemplating suspending him from the series.

via ABC Chicago 7

jussie smollett

“Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has been charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday evening.

Smollett is due in court in Chicago at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said CPD detectives will make contact with Smollett’s legal team to “negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest.”

Smollett is not in custody at this time. Guglielmi told ABC News police are not actively looking for the actor because “this is not a violent crime,” but said “the longer this goes, the more we have to do what we have to do.”

Guglielmi told ABC News police do not know where Smollett is, and “his attorneys have not shared where he is at this point.”

“I know this can be difficult emotionally, and we hope he doesn’t do anything terrible. We want to make this as diplomatic as possible. In the end, this is only a class 4 felony. He will get through this and we want to make it as easy as possible for him to do it. But again, it is about accountability,” Guglielmi told ABC News.

Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Entertainment said they have no comment at this time.

Guglielmi said CPD detectives presented evidence before a Cook County grand jury Wednesday.

Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, released a statement, saying, “Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked. Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”

Twentieth Century Fox has released the following statement, even though Deadline reports that producers are trying to figure out how to suspend his character or give him some time off. 

This entire situation can only be described in two words–confusing and debacle! We are not sure how the grand jury he is facing soon will sway, but one thing is for sure is that the public’s trust in Jussie Smollett is now shaken. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

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