‘Big Brother Africa Postponed’: House Burns Down

Big Brother 9 Hotshots AfricaMagic logo

AllAfrica.com is reporting that the premiere of Big Brother AfricaHotShots has been postponed due to a house fire. Season 9 of the reality show based on the American reality show of the same name, was supposed to debut on September 7 and take place in Malawi.  M-Net and Endemol SA released a statement confirming the delay of the highly anticipated show. The author writes:

“M-Net and Endemol SA advise that due to a devastating fire at the Big Brother house on 2 September 2014 , Big Brother Hotshots will not launch this Sunday (7 September) as scheduled.

The cause of the fire at this stage is unknown and investigations will commence as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Fans took to the Twitterverse to express their disappointment in the postponement of Africa’s most popular show.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 4.58.55 PM

Executives are attempting to locate a new house, which has proven problematic due to the complicated technological requirements for the house where contestants live.

Last season, more than 6 million fans visited the reality show the official website and 200 million visited social media networks.

Read more at AllAfrica.com.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Harry Belafonte to Receive Prestigious Humanitarian Award from Academy

Legendary actor Harry Belafonte to receive lifetime achievement award for humanitarian work from AMAS Governors. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Legendary actor Harry Belafonte to receive lifetime achievement award for humanitarian work from AMAS Governors. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Reuters is reporting that that Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences is honoring legendary singer, actor and activist Harry Belafonte for his humanitarian efforts. Belafonte will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his work in social causes, including civil rights, famine relief and education. Belafonte will join a select group of stars who have earned the coveted “EGOT” i.e. Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, Japanese animation film director Hayao Miyazaki and Irish actress Maureen O’Hara will also be honored with Governors awards from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The Governors awards are given to recognize lifetime achievement in the field of entertainment.

Read more and watch video at Reuters.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Amma Asante: ‘I’m About Putting Smart Women On-Screen’

Director Amma Asante directs Gugu Mbatha-Raw on the set of 'Belle.' (Comingsoon.net)

Director Amma Asante directs Gugu Mbatha-Raw on the set of ‘Belle.’ (Comingsoon.net)

British filmmaker and writer Amma Asante thinks visual storytelling can promote sisterhood and create strong communities that extend beyond the film industry.

The director of Ghanaian descent’s sophomore effort, Belle, chronicles the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), an assertive biracial love child of a West Indian slave and a British naval captain raised in 18th century Great Britain by her aristocratic great uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson).

Though Belle is raised in a life of privilege and acquires her deceased father’s wealth, she experiences devastating racial discrimination because of the color of her skin. Simultaneously, the young woman falls in love with a strong-willed, morally-savvy white attorney (Sam Reid) to the chagrin of her uncle.

Directing Belle allowed Asante, whose feature debut, 2004′s A Way of Life, earned the filmmaker a BAFTA award, another opportunity to fully articulate and execute her cinematic vision. The detail-oriented movie maker knew she would be up for the challenge after seeing a painting featuring Belle and her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray.

Wanting to refrain from recreating stiff female archetypes captured in still art, Asante wanted to breathe life into the work’s subjects. Post-screening of this year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Atlanta, the self-described anal and obsessive director shared insights on how she developed her aesthetically superb film.

Asante created a color wheel, or what she calls “a mood board” to help develop the look and feel of the film. On top of conducting vigorous research, another goal was to develop a crew she could work with on a recurring basis.

“Before you start writing, watch a lot of authentic stuff from that period,” says Asante, who took three-and-a-half years to develop Belle. “Don’t cut any corners. Read works from that period, and submerge yourself completely in that period.”

Mbatha-Raw and Asante fed off each other’s energy and dedication during production. The ladies’ chemistry resulted in each delivering memorable performances.

An upbeat Asante makes countless references to how impressed she is with Mbatha-Raw’s delivery and body language. She sits next to the multi-talented Royal Academy of Dramatic Art alumnae in one of the Georgian Terrace’s conference rooms the morning following the film festival.

The women share a few laughs but unanimously agree that trusting each other set the tone for their synergy on set.

“There’s nothing better than working with a natural actress who knows the meaning of nuance,” says Asante with her legs crossed. “I wanted to facilitate great performances. I’m about putting smart women on-screen. If I was honest with her about what I wanted and needed from her, she would take it a step further.”

The filmmaker adds, “We both felt a responsibility. There is something beautiful about teaming up with another woman of color to raise the profile of a historic woman of color. I don’t write for lines; I write for body language and what goes in between the lines.”

Mbatha-Raw prepared to portray her virtuoso character by taking etiquette workshops, piano lessons and listening to compositions by Handel. Insisting her upbringing was conflict-free, the offspring of a black South African father and white British mother listened to a rotating playlist that put her in an element to take on her debut starring role.

Belle’s leading actress, an admitted chatterbox whose passion for the arts is rooted in dance, shared playlists with Asante. Taking sips of coffee between remarks, Mbatha-Raw pinpoints that Asante’s knack for clarity, in addition to the actress avidly reading Jane Austen novels, inspired her to deliver an exceptional performance.

“Having Amma trust me with this huge labor of love was massive,” says Mbatha-Raw. “Unless you have strong leadership, the story can get diluted by everyone else’s opinions. You have to be comfortable in your own shoes and have confidence in yourself.”

There were moments throughout Belle’s production when Asante’s ideas were met with resistance by her peers and colleagues. The film was originally set to be a made-for-TV film to air on HBO, but that didn’t work out.

It was suggested to Asante to edit out the film’s memorable mirror scene from the final cut. She reveals that defending her vision became hard at times.

The former child actress-turned-owner of a production company, Tantrum Films, kept in mind that being assertive and having stamina are essential components for black female movie directors. Thus, Asante stayed in contact with Belle’s cast, crew, studio executives and investors.

The transparent director shared very candid moments about herself with Mbatha-Raw particularly.

“Communicate why you’re arguing for that point,” says Asante as she clenches her fists and periodically looks towards the ceiling. “You have to be diplomatic and political. Pick your fights and battles, but protect the stuff that matters.”

Mbatha-Raw, whose next feature, The Whole Truth, which stars Keanu Reeves, interjects that Asante’s revelations fueled her to breathe humanity into her character.

“[Amma] taught me to always remember to bring heart to the story,” says Mbatha-Raw. “It’s important to stand your ground, but you don’t have to become a tyrant about it.”

“Film is a platform for inspiration,” adds Mbatha-Raw. “Hopefully, it raises conversation about being authentic to yourself. I feel a responsibility to find work that evolves our culture and provides new perspectives that inspire us all.”

There were still recurring concerns from studio executives regarding how to properly portray Belle. Asante remained mindful of the ongoing debates, keeping her integrity at the forefront.

“There are questions coming from every corner all of the time,” says Asante still with her legs crossed.

“Everyone needs their answers to execute what it is you’ve asked them to do. Give everyone time to deliver, but protect yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. When you’re a woman, it’s very easy to be labeled a diva. Define yourself, and that comes down to every level of what you do.”

Asante persevered until Belle was complete. The film went on to become one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films.

The confident filmmaker is currently directing her next film, Unforgettable, for Warner Bros. What Asante finds most rewarding about directing Belle is she’s excelling in her craft.

She credits and applauds members of her team for their hard work. Remarkably chatty whenever she expresses how proud she is to have made Belle, Asante is at a loss for words about the film’s success.

“Some things you learn you can’t articulate because they’re beyond words, which is what we do in movies,” says Asante. “We go beyond words.”

“I wanted to change the narrative of black girls. Movie making is a place where the variety of stories and ideas are allowed to be placed on the table. It’s only through variety that creativity can grow.”

Never one to fully alter her agenda, Asante wants Belle’s audiences to leave with their own points of view.

“Film should be a talking point,” she says. “You want people walking away discussing what you put out there because you may not have all of the answers.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Brazil: Economy Falls Into a Recession

Brazilian currency.

Brazilian currency (Google Images)

BBC News Latin America is reporting that Brazil has fallen into a recession just one month before the general election. This information does not bode well for Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who is trailing in the polls to newcomer Marina Silva, who is an environmentalist. Further, the World Cup is also being viewed as a business failure because of the drain on the economy and the lack of participation from “traditional” tourists.

The author reports:

“Economic output, GDP, fell by 0.6% in the three months to June, worse than analysts had predicted, and revised figures for the first quarter of the year also showed a fall of 0.2%. A recession is usually defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. The news will be damaging for the government of President Dilma Rousseff.”

Rousseff, who is respected in many regards, is considered “weak on the economy.” The 2nd quarter GDP data also showed that civil construction, manufacturing and investment declined significantly during the second quarter.

Read more at BBC News.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Liberia: Officials Who Left During Ebola Crisis Ousted

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dismissed members of her cabinet who fled during the Ebola outbreak. (Photo: Google Images)

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dismissed members of her cabinet who fled during the Ebola outbreak. (Photo: Google Images)

AllAfrica.com is reporting that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has ordered the dismissal of some senior and junior level cabinet members that left the country amid reports of an Ebola outbreak.

The author writes:

“A week ago Sirleaf gave cabinet ministers out of the country one week to return home or they would be considered dismissed, except for those with serious health-related excuses.

Information Minister Lewis Brown said although the list of those affected is still being compiled, it includes the Chairman of the National Investment Commission and several deputy and assistant ministers.

Critics say the exodus of government officials has added to a state of uncertainty in the country.

Brown said President Sirleaf wants all her cabinet ministers at home to join the fight against Ebola.”

Clearly, President Johnson Sirleaf is not having it.

Read more at AllAfrica.com.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Ferguson: Students Return to School Following Brown Funeral

A child protests police brutality during Michael Brown uprisings. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

A child protests police brutality during Michael Brown uprisings. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Shantana Stewart of NewsOne.com is reporting that Ferguson school officials have welcomed back students following the internationally televised burial services for unarmed teen Michael Brown. Brown, 18 was shot and killed on August 9 by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Classes were cancelled due to civil unrest related to the suspicious circumstances surrounding Brown’s death.

Stewart reports:

“In spite of the recent unrest of the Ferguson community — with the burial of Michael Brown, the teen who was fatally shot in an incident involving Ferguson police, happening on Monday — Jana Shortt, director of communications and marketing for the Ferguson-Florissant School District (FFSD), said the district is prepared to receive its students.

Last week, the FFSD’s 2,000 employees participated in the Response, Intervention, Support and Education crisis training, so they would be better prepared to meet students’ emotional needs.

Besides the district’s normal staff of counselors, Great Circle therapists were also there on Day 1 to lend a helping hand.

‘Well, what we are hoping to provide here is a sense of normalcy, getting back to school is something students and staff are ready for,’ Shortt said. ‘There will be talks with children and conversation will be taking place in class. The district will be here to have those conversations.’”

Read more at NewsOne.com.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

R.I.P. Michael Brown: Slain Unarmed Teenager Laid to Rest; Watch Funeral Live

michael-brown-funeral-to-be-held-monday

Slain unarmed teenager Michael Brown’s graduation picture. (Photo: Google Images)

Funeral services for Michael Brown, the slain unarmed teenager killed on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, MO by police officer Darren Wilson. Mourners are gathered at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO. Watch live video of the funeral below:

Rest in peace Michael.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Egypt, Iran and Amnesty International Criticize US Over Ferguson Unrest

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 8.04.16 AM

Aljazeera is reporting that countries often criticized for human rights violations, especially as it relates to quashing protestors rights, are criticizing the United States for its handling of protesters in Ferguson.

The author writes:

“On Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented of the ongoing demonstrations on his Facebook and Twitter (link is external) accounts. Below is an image posted (link is external) on Khamenei’s Facebook page with a quote, ‘Look, in a country that claims to support freedom and human rights, the problem of racial discrimination has not been solved yet.’ On Tuesday, Egypt’s foreign ministry called on the US to exercise restraint in its handling of the protests, mirroring language the US has used with Egypt in the past. State-run media outlets in China and Russia also joined the criticism.”

Read more at Aljazeera.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

Teens Develop ‘Five-O’ App to Track Police Brutality

Decatur, GA teen siblings Christian, 16, Caleb 14 and Asha 15 created the 5-0 app. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Decatur, GA teen siblings Christian, 16, Caleb 14 and Asha 15 created the 5-0 app. (Photo Credit: Google Images)

Ryan Grenoble of The Huffington Post is reporting that teens have created ‘Five-O’, a mobile app “that empowers citizens ‘to record and store data from every encounter with law enforcement.’”  The data  can then be collected and shared in an effort to hold individual police officers and police departments accountable.

Genoble writes:

‘”We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents,’ 16-year-old Ima Christian — who created the app with siblings Caleb, 14, and Asha, 15 — told Business Insider, explaining the inspiration behind the program. ‘They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It’s important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don’t we create an app to help us solve this problem.’ In addition to the Yelp-like police rating system, the app includes a “know your rights” section, complete with information from the American Civil Liberties Union.”

The teens, who learned to code from various online programs, also plan to use the app to highlight positive police officers and departments. They hope highlighting those officers and departments will help them model good behavior and practices for other departments.

The app is available for download for Samsung devices. The app is still awaiting approval from the Apple Store.

Read more at Huffington Post.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.

George Tandy, Jr.: “Nothing lasts without a strong foundation.”

Singer and musician George Tandy, Jr. (Photo Credit: Ryan O’Neil Milton/INform Magazine)

Singer and musician George Tandy, Jr. (Photo Credit: Ryan O’Neil Milton/INform Magazine)

At a recent live broadcast of The-Steve Harvey Morning Showfrom Georgia World Congress Center, the comedian and talk show host declared before his massive audience that George Tandy, Jr. is “a bad boy.”

The transparent singer, songwriter and keyboardist croons on-stage with undeniable sincerity and clarity. Reminiscent of a classically trained pianist, Tandy’s fingers delicately glide and caress the keys. At the same time, the multi-talented performer attacks his instrument with high octane tenacity as an ode to an arena rocker.

Almost immediately following Tandy’s jaw-dropping two-song performance, he jumps off of the stage and lands into a group hug from his immediate family. “You got talent,” declares Harvey. “You came out here and did what I wanted you to do.”

Tandy is indeed well on his way to becoming one of current R&B and soul music’s most unorthodox talents. His debut LP, The Foundation, is an 11-song soundscape: combining jazz, rock, alternative, hip hop, gospel, blues, reggae and folk into a pleasant, 50-minute listening experience.

“As a new artist, I wanted to create something that was timeless because I plan on being around for a little while,” says Tandy. “My first introduction to the world needs to be something 30 or 40 years from now you can still play.”

Being honest and kind are Tandy’s musical and ethical core values. The Virginia Beach native’s current single, “March,” is an encouraging, piano-driven ballad built with a refraining drum bridge.

The song’s subject matter addresses perseverance despite failure. The album title, Tandy says, directly correlates to his musical integrity.

“I listen to everything, and I wanted to make sure everybody could feel my influences,” says Tandy wearing a teen idol smile and matching dimples. “Nothing lasts without a strong foundation. All of it influences me to this day.”

The 32-year-old avid reader has an idiosyncratic approach to crafting songs. These days, Tandy ironically doesn’t listen to music as much as he once did. Rhythms and melodies, on the other hand, are what fuel his creativity.

“One word will trigger a whole song,” says Tandy. “I’m in tune with my emotions to the point I know how to communicate them. Melodies are always popping up in my head.”

“I can hear them in people’s conversation. There’s a vibe there that can trigger something,” adds Tandy.

The performer has music and performance in his DNA. Tandy’s father is a jazz keyboardist. His mother is a singer and vocal coach. Originally playing the clarinet as a kid, a then-introverted Tandy used to sing and play music with his siblings.

The self-proclaimed “kid with a keyboard that loves music and people” relocated to Miami to pursue music at the insistence of his mother. He spent eight years as a hip hop dancer. Following that stint, Tandy became a barista at Starbucks Coffee.

Determined to make music his livelihood, Tandy recorded a demo and regularly performed at amateur nights. His fellow Starbucks partners were quite encouraging once they figured out he could sing and play by ear.

“They would play my music over the speakers sometimes,” says Tandy resting comfortably on a leather sofa. “The managers would show up to shows. The relationships I’ve built along the way is the real foundation.”

One random day at Starbucks, Tandy handed off his demo along with an iced venti black tea to RedStar Entertainment CEO Cima Georgevich. The musician’s exchange with his regular customer completely changed his fate.

“You treat people one-on-one the same way you treat anybody that walks into your house,” says Tandy. “Do what you need to do in order to do what you want to do. Be kind to everybody. You never know who somebody is.”

When Tandy walks through the doors of famed Atlanta record store Moods Music, the charismatic musician greets everyone in the store. He gives everyone hugs and handshakes.

As he sits on the store’s leather sofa, he mimics and pokes fun at Starbucks customers ordering custom beverages. He segues into eloquently articulating how he draws from the premier coffee purveyor’s guiding principles to address his intentions to share his music with audiences.

“It’s helped me to learn how to value each individual one at a time,” says an extremely personable Tandy. “When they walk in, they get an experience instead of a transaction.”

Tandy had a deal before RedStar/Republic Records, but things didn’t work out. The optimistic singer prefers not to dwell on that experience. He barely goes into any detail about the deal other than to say he was treated “less than human.”

“We already know what industry we’re in and how it can be,” says Tandy. “But can we be the example of what’s possible in a positive way and be successful?”

The morning following Tandy’s close to two-hour in-store appearance, his exceptional talents bring the massive audience to its feet. The room erupts with thunderous applause and euphoria after he performs “March.”

Serenading the room about an hour before Grammy winner John Legend sits behind the piano, Harvey reiterates to Tandy that he definitely delivered an impressive set.

Tandy, on the other hand, has his eyes set on having longevity. The 10 years he spent pursuing a professional music career are starting to pay off.

“There are millions of people who would love to be in the position I’m in because of the efforts that I put in and the relationships I’ve attached to my life,” he says.

“I care a lot about people and music, so that’s the real foundation.”

This post was written by Christopher A. Daniel, pop cultural critic and music editor for The Burton Wire. He is also a contributing writer for Urban Lux Magazine and Blues & Soul Magazine. Follow Christopher @Journalistorian on Twitter.

Like The Burton Wire on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @TheBurtonWire.