Maybe only Nina Simone had the same regality or grandeur. Being a black Queen in America in 1967 was a lot different than being a rock star. As time went on, she became even more regal, and I mean that in a positive way. She embraced that role and hung on to that title until the very end. Even more importantly, in 1967, at age 25, she was crowned the Queen of Soul by a disc jockey at the Regal Theater in Chicago. She was dignified and strong. That’s what the era hungered for. And it happened when America really needed that. That’s a very unusual role for a music superstar to take.
She tended to gloss over them, which was her prerogative. I chased after her tenaciously for 18 years before she agreed to do it with me. We worked on it for two years. Ultimately, she wouldn’t go where I felt she needed to go, which was to the most difficult challenges in her life. We all have strategies for our own emotional survival, and hers was to idealize everything… her childhood was great, her marriage was great, she was never happier. She wanted to control her own narrative. This is how she wanted the world to see her, the story she wanted to tell. I couldn’t have been more excited. I used to sit in her kitchen, her cooking and me eating, listening to gospel and jazz records. She tried to paint a picture of a happy life. I originally was introduced to her by Ray Charles.
You have to remember she was a child prodigy, a product of the golden age of gospel, much like Michael Jackson was a product of his time. Like Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra, Aretha was an iconic voice that was able to embrace and express the paradox of the times. Because she was brought up in the church, her voice always expressed an essential optimism of praise and worship, a joyful noise. These are church singers with operatic chops. But she also has the blues of a hard life. She was within a genre where you had to sing your ass off to survive.
What was your experience like working with Aretha on her own autobiography?
She became a rock star, attracting a white audience along the way.
Was the relationship with her father a source of those conflicts?
I wanted to get at her vulnerabilities and fears. She was just very protective of her privacy. (Our relationship) was great until my book came out. I had something different in mind. She wasn’t happy with it.  She’s very controlling. She did want to do another book with me after the first one came out, but she wanted it to be more about her many honors and awards.
She demands “respect”; everything’s working for her. Atlantic had her sing rootsy, gospel R&B, doing non-mainstream music that ended up reaching the mainstream. It was the ‘60s, and the civil rights movement was in full swing. It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s what happened. The irony was, Columbia Records did everything they could to have her record mainstream music and appeal to a mainstream audience so that they might cross her over. She’s proud, she’s strong, she’s the voice of the people.
Was her role in the civil rights struggle ultimately her defining legacy?
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She survived her siblings, her mom and dad… I give her credit for keeping it together. One of the ways we combat the fear of death is by idealizing. We make up stories to tell ourselves, to distract us from our own mortality. There’s a heroism in her journey. That’s how we do.
Aretha didn’t just walk up to the mic and sing. That’s a big gift even if you’re not a world-class vocalist. Exactly. That puts her in rarified company. Jerry Wexler said she should have been credited as a co-producer back then. She came into the studio with her own charts, her own harmonies, her own grooves… It’s like Marvin Gaye, Barry White, Isaac Hayes. She’s both up and down, filled with joy and filled with pain, and that’s what makes her voice so compelling. These two things are happening at the same time, contradictory impulses coming together. She has the big vision, the Phil Spector overview. With “Respect,” she took a song that was a hit for Otis Redding, de-constructed it, then reconstructed it with a different groove, background harmonies… Aretha Franklin saw the big picture, she was a visionary, a producer. What people often forget is she was a great piano player.
What was your personal relationship with Aretha like over the years?
It wasn’t until Jerry Wexler got her to Atlantic, that they knew what to do with her. Aretha’s early years at Columbia weren’t very successful commercially.
You never know, just when you think the voice might be shot, they’ll get up there at any given time and tear your head off. Like Tiger Woods. Artists like Aretha are always sort of dangerous.
And she had a number of late-career successes, like the Carole King “Natural Woman” tribute for the Kennedy Center Honors, bringing tears to the eyes of President Obama.
She brought the essence of sexuality to gospel music.
Her outsized personality often overshadowed the music in recent years. Her passing has offered us the opportunity to listen to the music in a much purer way.
Aretha had no equivocations about singing anything. Her story represents the opposite of something like “The Jazz Singer,” where the son is cast out because he wants to sing secular music. By the time she was 15, she had two different children with two different men. Her dad (Reverend C. Franklin) was an intellectual and a progressive at a time when there were not a whole lot of progressive Baptist preachers. Aretha’s mom died when she was 10, so her grandmother for the most part raised these kids. Her father encouraged her to sing jazz, pop and R&B because he embraced all the genres, and they all come from the same place. King and Art Tatum at his house. L. I explored that complexity in my own book. But he was also known as a ladies’ man who liked to frequent jazz clubs and entertain the likes of Oscar Petersen, B.B.
Noted music biographer David Ritz (Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole, B.B. He co-authored her 1998 autobiography, “Aretha: From These Roots,” written with her input. Then in 2014, he published “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin,” culled from interviews with those closest to her, which essentially shattered his friendship with the Queen of Soul, who was upset by its candor. King, Janet Jackson, Etta James) has written a pair of books about Aretha Franklin.

(David Nevins with "SMILF" stars Rosie O'Donnell, Frankie Shaw, and Connie Britton)” />
Showtime Networks CEO David Nevins is steering CBS Corp.’s pay cable unit through a significant expansion as it delivers more original scripted and unscripted series, documentaries, specials, and sports-related programming than at any time in its 42-year history. Growth spurred by the availability of the channel as a standalone streaming app since 2015 has helped bolster the company at a time when it has to offer more programming to remain a must-keep for pay TV viewers.
It’s a big one, as boutique operations go. Nevins emphasizes his focus on making sure there’s a level of hands-on development, production, and marketing support from the highest levels of the company for everything that goes out on Showtime’s air.
“For people under 35 they are a home run,” Nevins says, adding that there’s a chance the show will air live when it premieres early next year. Showtime is also preparing to launch its first stab at a weekly late-night series with the duo Desus Nice and the Kid Mero, who hosted a nightly show on Viceland for nearly two years that ended in June after they signed with Showtime.
It’s also vital to keeping Showtime in the top echelon of premium outlets as so much of TV viewing migrates to on-demand platforms. The range of material that Showtime is fielding is personally satisfying to Nevins, who joined the company in 2010 as head of programming and was promoted to CEO in 2016.
The series came together in secret as Baron Cohen developed outrageous archetype characters and then sought out real-life politicians and celebrities for what have proven to be embarrassing encounters. Sarah Palin has called Baron Cohen “evil, exploitative, and sick” for duping her into an interview for an upcoming segment. Nevins makes no apologies for the show. “He is a genius,” he says of Baron Cohen. Sacha Baron Cohen has stirred some controversy for Showtime with his undercover improv series “Who Is America” which debuted last month.
“There’s a certain amount of luck in this but it also shows that we’re fishing in the right waters,” Nevins says, giving credit to Showtime documentary chief Vinnie Malhotra.
The competition has exploded and the benchmark for content expenditure is now set not by longtime rival HBO but by a digital upstart with seemingly limitless coffers and a $300-plus share price (aka Netflix). This transition comes at a fraught time for established premium TV players.
In the larger scheme of the Peak TV universe, Showtime’s selling point to subscribers and the creative community is: “We’re a boutique," Nevins says.
“You’ll see more of it on a year-round basis.” “The Circus,” the real-time political docu-series that launched in 2016 to cover the roller-coaster presidential campaign, has become a staple of Showtime’s schedule amid the charged political environment. “We feel like ‘The Circus’ opened up what is a topical newsy show for premium TV that is not in the Jon Stewart/’Daily Show’ mold,” Nevins says.
"Beyond the main three hosts, this is a show that needs other points of view." "We’ll continue to expand with some other correspondents," he says. The show faced some turnover after its second season last year when Mark Halperin was fired as co-host amid sexual harassment allegations that were unrelated to "Circus." But Nevins says the addition of Alex Wagner as co-host with Mark McKinnon and John Heilemann was a boon to the show as it brought a different perspective on the inner workings of politics.
“There is a lot of opportunity and this is a key moment for our business,” Nevins says. “There’s going to be a finite number of brands that make this transition. We’re very confident that we’re going to be one of them.”
Showtime is coming to a crossroads as its signature series for most of the past decade, “Homeland,” heads into its ninth and final season next year.
“I think more and more the appeal of being at Showtime is that you don’t sit on a shelf with a thousand other titles,” Nevins tells Variety. “One of the reasons creative people are coming to us is that we have a reputation for making each shot count.”
“Lena’s diving in hard. Those are good examples of us pushing the boundaries of the medium and working with untested creators who have really unique voices and a lot to say.” “Both ‘The Chi’ and ‘SMILF’ are going to have big sophomore years,” Nevins says.
While “Homeland” is heading for its last round, Nevins has confidence that younger series including “Billions” and the critically praised Lena Waithe drama “The Chi” are ready to pick up the drama mantle, along with the enduring “Shameless.” The Frankie Shaw comedy “SMILF” was also a sleeper success last year and is poised for growth in season two, judging by the strong traction that season 1 has enjoyed in Showtime’s on-demand platforms, Nevins says.
Other scripted series in the pipeline include the Don Cheadle comedy “Black Monday,” rooted in the 1987 stock market crash; “City on a Hill,” starring Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent in early 1990s Boston; and a long-gestating adaptation of video game “Halo.”
Another big focus for Nevins is to make sure Showtime has buzzy unscripted series and documentary projects that take on headline issues. 4. The series, produced by James’ banner and directed by Gotham Chopra, has been in the works for more than a year. The company announced plans for a multi-part documentary series “Shut Up and Dribble,” a look at the influence of African-American NBA stars, on the heels of President Trump’s Twitter swipe at LeBron James on Aug.
It’s a fan favorite that also has grabbed plenty of critical praise, but so far has been overlooked by Emmy voters. “Billions,” the sudser set in the world of high finance, is heading into its fourth season. 9. “That show is the nucleus of the future for us,” Nevins says. “It is as well-written and well-acted as any of the shows that are nominated.” And "Shameless," he promises, is "stronger than ever" in its ninth season, which bows Sept.
18) toplined by Benicio del Toro and Patricia Arquette and directed by Ben Stiller; and the untitled miniseries about Roger Ailes to star Russell Crowe, from director Tom McCarthy and producer Jason Blum. Despite the gold rush underway for talent deals, Nevins points to the caliber of Showtime’s partners on new series including “Kidding,” from Jim Carrey and Michel Gondry (bowing Sept. 9); the limited series “Escape at Dannemora” (Nov.

"Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts" is headed to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2019.” />
The change in direction marks the team having "learned" from their past missteps, according to CI Games CEO Marek Tymiński. This mission-based play takes players to the Siberian wilderness, which is rife with various environmental obstacles, as well as challenging objectives to complete in standalone levels that are meant to be played and played again.
There's a selection of secondary objectives that can be completed for bonuses, as well as ways to retry completed contracts for a chance to earn even more money. Featuring a single-player campaign where players work through various missions each with their own unique objectives and rewards, the game changes up the established formula from CI Games' previous offerings in a big way. This iteration of the "Sniper" series is trading in the open world of "Sniper Ghost Warrior 3" and swapping in mission-based scenarios with a new "contracts" system.
CI Games announced a new entry in its long-running "Sniper" shooter series on Thursday, opting for a more traditional, mission-based approach with "Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts."
Aside from changing the core gameplay philosophies, the team is also focusing on minimizing longer load times and establishing a stable frame rate, as well as stuffing features in that new and longtime fans, will enjoy.

Voting for the Primetime Emmys is currently open and closes Aug. 27.” /> "The Alienist" is currently nominated for two Primetime Emmys — for best limited series and best cinematography in a limited series or movie. The decision to greenlight a so-called sequel to "The Alienist" featuring the same characters as the original, portrayed by the same actors, serves as an effective renewal of the show, however, and may raise questions about the original's status as an awards contender.
TNT has ordered "The Angel of Darkness," a new limited series based on the novel that was a sequel to Caleb Carr’s "The Alienist." The new project will reunite the main cast of TNT's original limited series "The Alienist," including Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning.
With this new story in TNT’s Suspense Collection, we will further immerse viewers into their world as they are confronted with a new enemy.” “Our audience fell in love with these multi-dimensional, timeless characters and the journey of their struggles living in complicated times. “We could not be prouder of The Alienist’s outstanding, award-worthy performance and all of the work the incredible actors and crew put in to bring that story and time period to life,” said Sarah Aubrey, executive vice president of original programming for TNT.
"The Alienist" followed Bruhl, Evans, and Fanning's characters as they investigate a series of muders in 19th century New York. "The Angel of Darkness" is being billed by TNT as a sequel, and not as a second season of "The Alienist." It is being produced by Paramount Television and Turner's Studio T. Eric Roth, Anonymous Content's Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin and Cary Joji Fukunaga will serve as executive producers.

Investors include Revolution Growth, Greycroft Partners, Evolution Media, Greenspring Associates and Horizons Ventures. L.A.-based Scopely is now valued at more than $700 million, after it closed a $160 million Series C round.
The free-to-play game will include in-app purchases, which is a typical industry model. "Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem" is available for pre-registration on Google Play, and will be available as a free download on both iOS and Android this fall.
saw a "unique opportunity to work with Scopely to offer a game that combines the [Looney Tunes] uniquely cartoonish mayhem with the accessible yet deep, RPG-style gameplay that today’s adult gamer craves,” commented David Haddad, president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Warner Bros.
Interactive Entertainment, and it's developed in partnership with Brazil's Aquiris Game Studio. The game is being published by Scopely under a pact with Warner Bros.
With Buddies.”” /> The company, founded in 2011, has produced several top-grossing games, including “The Walking Dead: Road to Survival,” an RPG based on AMC's hit TV show; “WWE: Champions,” a puzzle-matching role-playing game; “Wheel of Fortune Free Play”; and “Yahtzee!
“The Looney Tunes are literally timeless, and the originators of over-the-top, animated slapstick comedy," said Tim O’Brien, Scopely's chief revenue officer. "'World of Mayhem' perfectly integrates that trademark contemporary humor into a mobile experience that gamers of all levels can pick up and play, while offering the deep multiplayer RPG combat and builder gameplay that will engage them for months and years.”
Get ready to do battle with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, Yosemite Sam, Tweety Bird and other Looney Tunes characters — complete with plummeting ACME anvils, exploding presents, and giant space lasers.
In the role-playing game, users collect and battle with characters that have ridiculous, unique abilities to fight against each other in different game modes. Players also can build personalized “Toon Towns" in the app. Mobile game "Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem," slated to be released this fall, will bring together more 70 characters from WB's Looney Tunes franchise to wage prank-combat and cause other mischief.

The first four iterations in the "Conjuring" universe — including "Annabelle" and its sequel — have generated over $1.1 billion globally. It is set in Romania in 1951 and centers on a Catholic priest and a novice who are sent to the Vatican to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun. "The Nun," a spinoff of "The Conjuring 2," stars Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, and Jonas Bloquet.
7, though some estimates predict it could make as much as $37 million. That's a promising launch given the low price tag typically attached to horror movies. Early tracking suggests the fifth installment in "The Conjuring" franchise is on pace to open to more than $32 million when it opens on Sept.
Also releasing on the same weekend is "God Bless the Broken Road." The drama looks to open to around $3 million.” /> "The Nun" will compete against another horror title, STX's "Peppermint." Jennifer Garner stars in the thriller, which is on track for a debut between $8 million and $13 million.
is hoping to scare moviegoers back into theaters with "The Nun." After popcorn season comes to a close, Warner Bros.
The Warner Bros. It won't come close to matching the surprise success of the same weekend last September when Andy Muschietti's "It" shattered records with its massive $123 million debut. A sequel, "It: Chapter 2," is currently in the works. and New Line hit went on to earn over $700 million worldwide.

E! has canceled the one-hour drama series after four seasons, Variety has learned. "The Royals'" reign has come to an end.
In addition to Hurley, it also starred Max Brown, William Moseley, Jake Maskall, Tom Austen, Alexandra Park, and Genevieve Gaunt. Brian Robbins, Joe Davola, and Shauna Phelan served as executive producers. Starring Elizabeth Hurley, “The Royals” followed a fictional modern day royal family as they find love, conspire against one another, and are forced to face long-hidden secrets, all in the name of the crown.
Sources say that the show could continue at the cable network Pop, which is a joint venture between CBS Entertainment and Lionsgate Entertainment. Season 4 of the series aired between March and May earlier this year. Though sources also caution that any deal with Pop is by no means final, it would make sense given that Lionsgate Television co-produces "The Royals" with Universal Cable Productions. In Live+Same Day viewing, the season averaged a 0.2 rating in adults 18-49 and around 400,000 viewers per episode, down approximately 30% in the key demo from Season 3.
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The cancellation comes after series creator and showrunner Mark Schwahn was fired from the show in December after Variety reported on detailed allegations of sexual harassment during his time on “One Tree Hill.” Twenty-five cast and crew members of “The Royals” also called out Schwahn’s behavior, saying in a letter that Schwahn engaged in “repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew.”
told Variety in a statement. “E! will not be moving forward with another season of 'The Royals,' which launched in 2015 as the network’s first original scripted series," a spokesperson for E! We are grateful to the cast and our producing partners at Lionsgate and Universal Cable Productions.” "Over four seasons, 'The Royals' took viewers behind the palace gates on a scandalous journey filled with twists and turns.

Though Street expresses his opinions on the matter, he notes that it "would be more meaningful to ask the women."
"Historically, Riot has desired that all our new hires be active game players, and ideally 'League' players," Street wrote. We are trying to explore new avenues for how we source potential applicants, and while I think it’s challenging to really be good at game development if you don’t love games, we think there are opportunities there to broaden the kind of folks we interview. "Like many games, 'League' skews heavily male, so we are starting with an already smaller pool for potential applicants.
"I am doing a lot of listening to make sure the women on my team and at Riot feel like we hear them, we really understand their point of view, and we understand what they want changed," Street stated.
Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street writes that some of the situations he has heard about since the story broke about the rampant sexism at Riot Games qualify as "horrible and inexcusable."
Marie noted many other issues in her post, and also brought up the discrimination in the form of generalizations made against women as players of "League of Legends." In one instance, Marie is told "that we shouldn’t put cosplayers on stage to play 'League' live, because they are mostly women, and therefore not very good at the game."
Street says that a primary concern is female employees feeling like they cannot contribute (or that if they do, their voices will not be heard) or be considered fairly for advancement.
A design director on "League of Legends" responded to concerns over Riot Games' harassment issues in his personal blog and tweeted from his Twitter account Wednesday.
Street further says that although employees have been fired for this type of harassment, there is typically no announcement about "why someone is being terminated, and that is particularly true if there is a victim involved that you want to protect." The result being that even though perpetrators may be punished, there may not be sufficient communication to the rest of the organization that this type of behavior isn't tolerated.
Industry-wide, if not culturally-wide, these issues are not easy to fix, but they are important to fix, and that gives me hope that we won’t give up.” /> It has been a problem everywhere I have worked, and sadly Riot is not immune either. Riot talks a lot more about culture than anywhere I have worked, so perhaps that makes it doubly disappointing that we haven’t been able to deliver. "Look, this is an industry (gaming specifically, but tech at large) that has a pretty terrible track record for women and minorities.
This was a repeated sentiment about women expressed in the original story that broke, as Riot emphasizes ability to play "League of Legends" as a high priority when considering job applicants as well. Street also brings this point up in his post.
In her post, Marie notes the various inappropriate questions she was asked, as well as jokes about rape and other concerns that eventually led her to leave her position. Meagan Marie, a current senior community manager with Crystal Dynamics and former Riot employee posted her experience on her blog, noting that she resigned after six months with the company.
there are many people who weren’t subject to sexist behavior and harassment," Marie wrote. "That being said, from my own experiences and that of many others speaking out this week, an unacceptable number of people – primarily, but not exclusively women – have been subject to inappropriate behavior at Riot for years. "The large majority of Riot employees I’ve met have been lovely, and … It is systemic to the company’s culture and needs to be addressed as such."
The final straw for Marie was when she was called sexist for saying she didn't want to share a hotel room with an unknown male employee, which came up because of a typo in an email in which it appeared Marie was being asked to do such.

Hildebrand said he suffered two black eyes, a busted lip and a concussion. He claimed he "wasn’t able to defend myself because people in the crowd were holding me back." A video of the event surfaced earlier this month, in which Ness can be seen yelling at someone in the crowd.
Linda Matthew, a public information officer for the Sacramento Police Department, told the New York Times on Wednesday that the department was looking into the allegations.” />
In an interview with Sacramento's CBS13 that aired on Wednesday, Tim Hildebrand, 30, said he held up his middle fingers during a July 19 concert in response to Ness' rant against President Trump. He said Ness then called him forward and repeatedly punched him in the head.
Sacramento police are investigating an incident last month during which Mike Ness, the lead singer of the band Social Distortion, allegedly punched a Trump-supporting fan at a concert.
Hildebrand, who filed a report with the police, said he also shouted, "I paid for your music, not your politics" during the concert. Although a longtime fan of Social Distortion, Hildebrand said Ness' speech was "anti-American" and "anti-Trump," and that others at the concert also protested the singer or walked out.