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Entertainment

Bill Cosby’s Life of Achievement Stained by Assault Conviction

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By Douglas M. Bovitt

Before Cosby and The Cosby Show, no affluent, educated black family existed on TV. Before Cosby, few black celebrities were hired to pitch something as mainstream as Jell-O.
It all made for an unmatched contribution to ethnic equality, a legacy seemingly invulnerable to claims spanning decades that “America’s Dad” was sexually abusing women. He denied it all and, year after year, that proved good enough.
Until it wasn’t. The collective willingness to trust in Cosby ended in a Pennsylvania courtroom on Thursday (Friday NZ time). Jurors convicted the 80-year-old comedian of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand, whose 2004 experience with Cosby echoed that of so many of his accusers who emerged before last year’s #MeToo wave began.
His wildly successful stand-up concerts and albums, the smash hit TV shows, the immense comedic talent that gave him power to change pop culture – nothing is left unstained.
“It is just about impossible to see any of that except through the hindsight of his being a predator,” said Martin Kaplan, Norman Lear Professor of Entertainment, Media and Society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Cosby parlayed his authority as a father figure into the right to counsel – or as critics saw it, lecture – young people, especially African-Americans, on how to live, Kaplan said.
“He was Dr Cosby, and a great authority on issues where you need moral standing,” the professor said.
“So now we all have to ask ourselves: What were we thinking? Why didn’t we see it?” Kaplan said, comparing Cosby’s fall from grace to the hit on poet TS Eliot’s reputation when his anti-Semitism came to light.
Cosby, seen here co-hosting the Essence Awards with Oprah Winfrey, parlayed his authority as a father figure into the …
Cosby, seen here co-hosting the Essence Awards with Oprah Winfrey, parlayed his authority as a father figure into the right to counsel young people, especially African-Americans, on how to live.
Cosby first won attention in the early 1960s as a clean-working comic who mined the experiences of children and parents for his material. He turned to acting in 1965 with I Spy, winning three straight Emmys and the title “the Jackie Robinson of television” for breaking one of TV’s major ethnic barriers.
Then came The Cosby Show, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992, in which he and Phylicia Rashad starred as firm but loving parents to an appealing brood of children. Mum and dad were high-achieving professionals, he in medicine, she in law.
“He was the biggest star in the US in the 80s, which made him the biggest TV star in the world,” longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman said.
And as Cosby’s fame and wealth grew, he became a generous benefactor to schools and other institutions, adding to his luster.
Now many of those institutions have cut ties with him, and much of what endeared Cosby to baby boomers and younger fans of classic TV has been wiped clean from the screen.
Syndication staple Cosby Show was dropped by TV Land as allegations against Cosby built, and Bounce TV reportedly was pulling the series after the verdict.
It’s far from the final act that Cosby had been working on. Just a few years ago, he was developing a new sitcom with NBC in which he was to play a grandfather dispensing advice. He also was looking forward to Netflix’s release of a new stand-up special and was preparing to launch an ambitious standup tour.
Although his appeal crossed generational and ethnic lines, his slams against the dress, behaviour and language of black youngsters provoked dismay from some African-Americans. It was that divide, not yet another woman’s accusation, that helped accelerate the unravelling.
Black comedian Hannibal Buress was onstage in 2014 when he criticised Cosby for his self-righteousness, declaring, “You rape women, Bill Cosby.”
Though Buress later said he was simply making a joke that went further than he expected, an audience member posted a video of the remark, prompting allegations from dozens of women telling similar stories to news outlets: Cosby gave them a pill or drink, they became intoxicated or incoherent and they were powerless to stop him from having sex with them.
NBC dropped its plan for the new comedy series, the Netflix special was pulled and concert dates began to dissolve. A new biography by the respected journalist Mark Whitaker foundered for largely overlooking the allegations of Cosby’s assaults.
Can any aspect of what Cosby created stand? Bragman, for one, said it’s impossible right now to separate the man’s work from his actions.
“This is his legacy in his lifetime,” he said.

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Entertainment

’ZOE’ the Movie on domestic violence Premieres in Abuja

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By Ere-ebi Agedah

‘Zoe’ Movie Director, ForinClay Ejeh has disclosed that the movie will shed light and equally expose the negative impact domestic violence has on children with the aim to curb the rate of its increase in Nigeria.

The movie, produced by De Mydas Koncept Inc is in a series of short soul touching movies that interprets hidden unspoken issues facing everyday people.

Mr Ejeh, who stated this while speaking to our correspondent at the movie premier in Abuja noted that domestic violence is gradually eating deep into our society and most families are unaware that the worse affected are the children who also suffer.

According Ejeh, a lot of kids who are adults today, grew up depressed as a result of what they were exposed to during their growing days, they are adults today and never got to speak about what they were exposed to and somehow unknown to them, they pass on this negative attitude to their children.

Ejeh who doubled as the director and producer added that in a case of domestic violence, Silence is never an option as the movie also aims to sensitize the public on the need to always speak out when exposed to any form of domestic violence because speaking out is the first solution to the problem.

“I have been opportune to speak with some people who never knew that they were depressed, and the children are always at the receiving end. A lot of kids are depressed, a lot of children are going through one sort of pain or the other and cannot speak out as I have had a firsthand encounter with a depressed child and I know what it feels like.

“A house where a child is unsafe is not a home, I am talking of true stories, which we will be shooting subsequently, true event, and true stories from people that we will channel into the big picture” he said.

Ejeh who lamented on some movies out in the movie industry called on young movie producers to start telling the right stories to inspire and motivate people who are going through depression and domestic violence as some have resulted to suicide.

Our correspondent also spoke with Stephine Odinuwe who played the role of Zoe the 10 year old girl, she stressed that children should begin to speak out on whatever challenge they are exposed to and to Parents that they should equally pay more attention and listen to their children.

The movie talks about 10-year-old Zoe, whose mother is a victim of incessant domestic violence from her abusive husband suffers in silence up to a point where sleep becomes her only escape from her unbearable reality.

It is important to note that an overwhelming preponderance of children exposed to such domestic violence suffer from other psychological conditions such as depression and chronic anxiety.

The movie also has top Nollywood actors like Chris Okagbue, Scarlet Gomez, Tony Goodman, Paul Vicks, Stephanie Odinuwe and others.

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I go for scripts with strong characters and unique story- Chetta Chukwu

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Since the release of Living In Bondage, Nollywood has experienced an exponential growth both in quality and capital, declaring it a $3.3 billion sector in 2014 by the Nigerian government.

Even with the impressive success attributed to the industry, there is no denying that its market is still flooded with half baked projects by armature filmmakers looking to cash out, recycling stale storylines and old methods.

Over the hastily churning out of films, a few other films have broken genre tradition by putting Nigeria on the map.

Payday, the award winning crime comedy film by revolutionary director, Cheta Chukwu, might just be one of those films that not only fits the bill, but also will rock the film industry for a long time.

Cheta Chukwu put his best foot forward not only as Payday’s director, but also the screenwriter. Our Correspondents Joy Imisi and Chioma Iruke spoke to Chukwu about Payday, his recent international award and his journey of breaking stereotypes and perpetuating a different narrative of the African story to the rest of the world.

Congratulations on your recent international award! It must feel really great.

Cheta Chukwu: Thank you! You’ve got no idea! I’m literally bursting with joy. It’s still all so surreal, man. The thoughts that my little film, an idea that was born in my little apartment during my National Service Year barely two years ago, is getting world recognition from one of the biggest film festivals out there, there are no words for it.

Tell us about the festival and Award Payday won?
My film Payday, was selected to screen at the 2oth Detective Fest International Film Festival in Moscow, Russia on the 23rd of April 2018. The festival happens to be one of the biggest in Russia with a 20 years life span. It’s in collaboration with the Russian Government. Payday won the Grand Jury Prize, one of the three prestigious awards given to feature films at the film Festival. And this would be the first time a film from Nigeria screened in the history of the festival. And we won!

There’s such a big buzz going around about the film. Everyone is talking about it. Want to tell us what the film is about and why everyone is so excited?

Payday is a coming of age crime comedy film about two bestfriends and roommates, played by BaajAdebule and Ebiye Victor, who embark on an overnight get rich quick scheme to replace their misspent rent with hilarious consequences. It also stars Zack Orji, Bisola Aiyeola, AMVCA Winner Meg Otanwa and Mawuli Gavor.
Since the release of the poster and synopsis, there has been a lot of excitement in the air. I am hoping we have created a fun film everyone will love and will take their friends and family to see. It’s an adrenaline puzzle that leaves behind any stereotypes of a slapstick in favour of a smart, witty and fun film that is pretty relatable. I really can’t wait for everyone to see the film. It’s showing in cinemas nationwide, July 13.


What inspired your journey into filmmaking?

As far as I can remember, I have always wanted to make films. As a young boy, I was always fascinated with art. I was drawing, writing my own stories and participating in school plays. I really wanted to go to a film school abroad but my folks couldn’t afford it, so I just went to a regular university instead where I studied Mass Communication at Benue State University. I was always interested in the filmmaking aspects and I excelled school. I was already navigating my way into the film industry and learning the ropes while studying. I wrote for various film projects and helped out on set as a production assistant or whatever position I was allowed to just to gain experience. And then my writing started to kick off. I was getting some international exposure as a screenwriter.

I worked projects staring Hollywood actors like includes working with Hollywood actors, Jimmy Jean-Louis (PhatGirlz, Heroes), Steven Skylar (Power Rangers), Emmy Winner Judi Evans (Days of Our Lives) etc. In 2015, I made a short film, psychological thriller titled Deranged, which won Best Actress in the Short Film Category at the 2015 Eko International Film Festival, Lagos, and emerged as a Finalist at the 2016 IndieBoost International Festival, Los Angeles and was an official selection in several film festivals outside Nigeria including Roselle Park Loves International Film Festival, Florida and IndieWise Virtue Film Festival, New Jersey.
Four years after graduating and getting more experience in film, I started my own film company, Dreamboat Pictures. Payday is the first film from Dreamboat Pictures.

As a Film Director, what factors influence the type of stories you want to tell?

I am a sucker for a good story, in spite of its genre. The first thing I look out for when I pick up a script is strong characters and unique story points. I like stories that jump off the page and characters that break rules, fascinate you with their thinking process and mess and take it through their journey with them. At the end of the day, I want to tell authentic African stories with a global appeal. I just feel like there are a lot of beautiful stories from us the world needs to see. And I want to have the honor to do that. When people of color tell their own stories the final product is always better.

Obviously, the past several years have lead to great gains for Nollywood within the country and globally, from the October 1’s psycho-thriller success to last year’s breakout comedy The Wedding Party. Where do you see Payday fitting in within that mold of black film renaissance?

Payday is a popcorn flick. Something you definitely want to go see with someone. I think comedy has done really well in the past several years. In fact, it seems to be the only thing racking all the money, as we speak. But I would like to think Payday is more than the humor. It’s advancement into the type of stories we want to see coming out of Nollywood. Shout out to the likes of Kunle Afolayan and Mo Abudu who are putting Nollywood on the map with the type of content they are choosing to put out. No matter the genre, the story you are telling, it’s important that it represents us as a people in a positive light and also done really well to be able to at least compete in the global market. Looking back, I think we have come really far and they will be more amazing stories coming out of Nollywood.

With the success of Black Panther all over the world, do you think a Superhero movie made by a Nollywood Director and shot in Nigeria would do well globally?

I don’t see why not. Like I earlier said, Black people are in the best position to tell their stories. If Black Panther was directed by a white guy, I’m not sure it might have had the same effect it had on Black people all over the world. There’s something about the emotional journey that all Black people around the world went together that you couldn’t explain as they all sat in the theaters and saw the film. Nothing can explain the magic that happened in that moment. So, yes, a superhero film done in Africa by an African filmmaker would do well. It might just need the studio backing that Black Panther got. As a matter of fact, Mo Abudu has just scored a deal with Sony Pictures Television to make a TV series, inspired by the Dohomey Warriors and I am beyond excited to see it.

Who can you call your biggest inspiration as a film director before you made your leap into filmmaking?

My influences and inspirations are from various people I am completely in awe of. On of them is Steven Spielberg. I can’t say enough what a genius that man is. I love Spike Lee, Wooden Allen, F Gary Grey and I am the biggest fan of James Cameroon. Will Packer and Tyler Perry are also some of the black filmmakers that really inspire me. I would like to achieve the success they have had in Hollywood despite the barriers against black people. And oh, I love Mo Abudu and what she represents as a strong African woman. It’s just amazing. She’s amazing and she’s definitely someone I’m looking forward to working with someday.

What do you do when you’re not making movies?
Thinking of a new movie to make. I’m just joking. When I’m not filming, I like to unwind differently. As I filmmaker, I move around a lot, so every chance I get to be in my own space and away from the world, I embrace it speedily. I like cafes. There’s something about it. I like the smell of coffee and the quietness of the place. There’s a great cafe in Lagos called Vesta Café. It’s one of my best places to hang out. I like beaches. It’s sorting. Best place to read or book or do nothing. I like the smell of rain and any opportunity to pull up my jackets. I love music. I can’t live without it.

What’s on your playlist?

Let’s see. Right now, I’ve got a Nigerian singer called Johnny Drille. I like his voice a lot. There are other people. John Bellion. Simi. J Cole. Daya. DNCE. Post Malone. Kendrick Lamar. Ycee. Davido. James Arthur. It’s a pretty long list.

What pop culture trend haven’t you been able to grasp?

How to dance ShakuShaku and use snapchat.

Nigerian dish or continental?

Nigerian dish.

What places around the world would you like to visit?

Calabar, Jamaica, Spain, Kenya.

If you had to do something else what would it be?

Work in the music business. I’d like that a lot.

Thanks for your time.

It’s a great pleasure.

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