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‘We’re Like Family’ – Keshia Knight Pulliam and Lance Gross on Returning to ‘House of Payne’ After 8-year Hiatus [EUR Exclusive]

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Keshia Knight Pulliam and Lance Gross

*Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” is back on BET with a revival series starring the original cast, after an 8-year hiatus.

Original stars LaVan DavisCassi Davis PattonLance Gross, Demetria McKinneyChina Anne McClainLarramie “Doc” ShawKeshia Knight Pulliam, and Allen Payne have reprised their beloved characters for the comedy sitcom, which centers on a multi-generational family in Atlanta led by patriarch Curtis Payne and his wife Ella. The show ran for 254 episodes on TBS from 2006-2012. 

Returning for its seventh season, “House of Payne” picks up five years later, as the family continue to navigate the problems of life, love and marriage.  

EURweb caught up with Keshia Knight Pulliam and Lance Gross to dish about what fans can expect with this new season — check out our Q&A below. 

READ MORE: Tyler Perry Announces ‘House of Payne’ Revival on BET + New Comedy Series ‘Assisted Living’

Keshia Knight Pulliam and Lance Gross

How exciting is it to be returning to these characters and this series and working with Mr. Perry again?

Lance: Oh man. It’s a great feeling. We’re like family. I mean, we’ve been working with each other so long, so to get back on set with each other, it just feels like we’re picking up where we left off.

Keisha: Yeah, absolutely. It’s funny because we know the characters so well, and so intimately after having played them for so long that we really did just jump back in. And so like Lance said, we really are like family and it was just fun. And we enjoy just having everyone back together again. 

Lance: Yeah. We definitely had to do it the right way. It was a trip just getting back on set and seeing how much China and Doc had grown. Like, they’re adults now. I remember them as kids, but it’s crazy where the time goes.

Keisha: Yeah, now we’re tackling some really different storylines and issues, but it’s all good. It’s fun.

Where does life find the Paynes when this season kicks off?

Lance: Well, it’s the same good, old fun, you know, it’s just a little bit of time has passed since our last episode. In the (premiere) episode, Malik comes home from college with a bit of news for his parents and the family. He’s gotten his girlfriend pregnant. So-

Keisha: Who happens to be a stripper.

Lance: Yeah, who happens to be a stripper. So it’s a lot of comedy in that, I’ll say.

Keisha: Absolutely.

Talk about some of the themes explored this season that you think will resonate with Black viewers.

Keisha: Well ultimately, to the core, it’s about family. It’s definitely about family and the family dynamics and how you navigate through change and circumstances. And life happens to everyone, like an unexpected pregnancy in college or what have you. So with China and Doc now being older, we get to explore different storylines through them that are age appropriate and that are really things that people are experiencing in that 20-something year old age range. 

But then you also have the old favorites like Lance and I. Our characters, Calvin and Miranda, left off with me asking for a divorce. So what’s going to happen with that? How are we going to navigate those waters? Are we going to get divorced? Are we not? We’re co-parenting, and the good thing is that because you have so many different age demographics within the show, it’s a generational comedy, that you have the ability to touch on a wide span of topics that relate to so many.


You’re both parents so you can relate to that aspect of your characters’ journey this season. How much of your own personas do you embed in Calvin and Miranda?

Lance: I think there’s a little bit of Lance in Calvin, just in the sense that, you know, he’s a good guy. He means no harm to anyone. Now I, myself, I don’t like drama. So I just try to live my life in a way that is drama free. Calvin on the other hand, he doesn’t mean to, but he gets himself into situations. And like this season where we’re dealing with the rollercoaster ride of getting a divorce or are we going to stay together? You just don’t know. And we’re co-parenting, we have kids together. Now I can relate to that because I have two wonderful kids, two very young kids. So I relate in that way.

Keisha: And I think the funny thing is when we started this journey, we’ve grown just as the characters have grown and evolved as well. Because Lance and I both didn’t have children, hadn’t been married, you know, any of that when we first started as Calvin and Miranda. And now, fast forward several years, we definitely have that to pull from. But I agree with Lance, even Miranda starting out kind of as an interesting character, the core of who she is good. And I genuinely feel like her and Calvin love each other, but just like in real life, sometimes you have these experiences and you can’t get past words that are said or actions that have occurred to find that place back to love again. But it doesn’t mean that you ever stopped loving each other, but it’s just a journey, that’s life.


With the show coming back after going on hiatus in 2012, is it important to you as performers to follow the social media conversation after each episode? Do you read blog recaps or engage with viewers online about what they think of the series?

Keisha: I don’t really do that. I think a part of this business, you have to make a decision for what is going to keep your peace and sanity. Because everyone is going to have an opinion and some will be amazing, some won’t be. But I feel like ultimately as long as when I approach the role, I’m doing it from a space of honesty and authenticity and doing my best job in that moment, that’s all I can do. Yeah, people will post on my page or what have you, but seeking it for me just isn’t the best. It’s just not what I do for any role.

Lance: Yeah. See, and I’m trying to get better with it, but I look at it as… I read a lot of it and I take the positive from it because there are so many people that just love this show. It resonates with them, it hits home for them. And it’s been long awaited. Like I don’t care how many jobs we do that’s outside of Tyler Perry’s umbrella, everybody always asks about House of Payne. Just because there were so many stories that were rich and that resonated with them. So, I look at the positive and all that and we’re back -and people are glad that we’re back. 

You’re also back at a very timely moment, as we’re living in stressful, uncertain times. This series is what folks need right now, laughter in the age of COVID.

Keisha: Absolutely. One thing I do have to say is we did shoot this pre-COVID. COVID hit literally right after we finished filming these episodes. So it’s not addressed in the season, but it’s true. Like everyone has been home and I feel like the resurgence of family is so important. I feel COVID has kind of forced everyone to re-shift their priorities and their focus a little bit. And people do want to just watch something the whole family can sit down, can enjoy, can have this moment where they kind of escape to this world of the Paynes and they can laugh with us. They can cry with us. They can see themselves in us. And it’s an important part of mental health in these times, of having that moment of just enjoying and laughing genuinely. So we hope that our desire is to continue to bring that to households.

Catch new episodes of Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne” every Wednesday 8/7c on BET.

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Entertainment

‘Antebellum’ Stars Gabourey Sidibe & Lily Cowle Discuss Race and White Allies

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Antebellum - Gabourey Sidibe Janelle Monae Lily Cowle

Antebellum poster

*”Antebellum,” the new film from Lionsgate is a mind-bending, psychological thriller that takes you from slavery plantations to modern day… or does it?

It stars Janelle Monae as Veronica Henley, a successful author, wife and mother who becomes trapped in a terrifying reality.

Also starring is Kiersey Clemmons, Tongayi Chirisa, Gabourey Sidibe, Lily Cowle, Jena Malone and Jack Huston as Elizabeth and Captain Jasper, a mysterious stranger who enters Veronica’s world and a vicious confederate soldier.

MORE NEWS: ‘King of New York’ Crown Worn by Notorious B.I.G. Sells for Nearly $600K at Hip-Hop Auction

The feature is the debut of writer-director duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. The concept was conceived after Bush had a nightmare and shared it with Renz.

EURweb’s Jill Munroe had a conversation with stars and creators of the film about their first expectations when receiving the script and what type of conversations the white cast is having with their friends, around Black social justice topics.

Lily Cowle who portrays Sarah says, “Right now we’re in a serious moral reckoning. And I think a lot of the dialogs on my end – and I hope a lot of people are having this conversation – how did we get here? What is it that I don’t know, that I need to learn, in order to right the wrongs that have been built into this country? And how can I do that, how can I lend myself to be an ally, as a fellow citizen and human being?”

Gabourey Sidibe is Bridget, Veronica and Sarah’s good friend, who is also a relationship expert. In the film, the trio’s night out ends in terror. She added:

“Race being a problem is nothing new to us. It’s not new to my mother, or her mother. It’s an old, old problem. Honestly at this point, it’s much more important that Lilly gets it in a way. What Lilly represents in the film in Sarah is so important because we’re not going to be able to get justice, we’re not going to be able to cure racism or move forward freely without white allies. We can scream until we’re blue in the face that Black lives matter, but as long as it’s our face saying it, they are always going to hear that your life doesn’t matter. That white lives don’t matter. That was never what we’re saying. What we need is white people saying Black lives matter.”

Antebellum - Gabourey Sidibe Janelle Monae Lily Cowle

Antebellum stars Gabourey Sidibe, Janelle Monae and Lily Cowle

“Antebellum” will be available on demand beginning September 18.

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Automotive

JeffCars.com’s Review: 2020 Lexus LC 500

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2020 Lexus LC 500
Lexus LC 500

2020 Lexus LC 500 (Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

Highlight: A stylish LC 500 convertible is in dealerships now.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $106,440 (Base Model: $93,975)

Seating Capacity: 2 (2 extremely small kids in the rear)

Standard Safety Features: ABS; airbags; a back up camera; heated dimming exterior mirrors; a tire pressure monitoring system; a pre-collision system with pedestrian protection; an all speed radar activated cruise control system; automatic high beam headlights; a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert; a lane keep assist system; a lane departure alert system with steering assist; a traction control system; a vehicle stability system; an automatic locking retractor; a first aid kit; and an emergency locking retractor

Standard Equipment: 20-inch aluminum wheels; a rear wheel drive configuration; a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifter; a push button ignition system; an adaptive variable suspension system; a driver select mode (sport and sport plus); an active sport exhaust system; aluminum pedals; electric power steering; flush outside door handles with a smart key access; LFA-inspired instrumentation; an analog clock; a 10-inch infotainment screen; a navigation system; flush-type door handles; direct spay windshield wipers; power folding auto dimming exterior mirrors; power front seats with memory controls for driver side only; memory operated electrochromic outside rearview mirrors; flush-type door handles with illumination when opened;  aluminum scuff plates; a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel; leather front seats; pseudo-leather rear seats; an 8-inch infotainment screen; a dual zone climate control system; a deodorizing and dust/pollen removing interior air filter; Lexus Enform Wi-Fi; and a glass roof with sunshade

Options On Test Vehicle: heated steering wheel; 21-inch wheels; a heads up display system; a limited slipped differential; Mark Levinson 13-speaker audio system with surround system; an intuitive park assist system; premium paint; Alcantara sport seat; carbon fiber roof; active rear steering; a variable gear-ratio steering; a speed activated rear wing; Alcantara headliner; carbon fiber door; and scuff plates

2020 Lexus LC 500 (Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

Other Trim Levels:

a hybrid model

a convertible (2021 model)

Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: a 12-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD satellite radio

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

USB Connectivity: Yes

Android/Apple CarPlay:not compatible with Android

Amazon Alexa: Standard

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 5.0-liter, 8-cylinder/471-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium

Standard Fuel Mileage: 16-city/26-hwy

What’s New: After arriving on the scene two years ago, the big news for the LC500 is the arrival of the stunning looking convertible this summer. As far as the coupe, a blinds spot monitor coupe is standard for the 2020 model year. And a new special edition Inspiration Series LC 500 is available. Unfortunately, Lexus plans on producing only 100 of the unique vehicles.

For more photos and to continue reading the review, click here.

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(Photo Credit: JeffCars.com)

About The Reviewer:  Jeff Fortson is the host of Auto Trends with JeffCars.com, the only syndicated multicultural automotive radio show on the airwaves. The 30-minute weekly show, which airs on SiriusXM 141 and a number of FM radio dials, includes one-on-one conversations with many of today’s pioneers and influencers. The engaging show, which goes beyond traditional car talk, can be heard via all mobile and stationary infotainment devices, clicking here.

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Black Celebrity Gossip - Gossip

David and Tamela Mann are ‘Lifting Spirits’ with BET+ Launch of ‘Madea Farewell’ [EUR Exclusive]

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“TYLER PERRY’S MADEA’S FAREWELL PLAY”

Photo Credit: Tyler Perry Studios

*“Tyler Perry’s Madea Farewell Play” has launched exclusively on BET+, and finds Perry serving up the final stage run as the beloved Madea. 

He pulls together some of the audience’s favorite characters for a family gathering, with Mr. Brown (David Mann), Cora (Tamela Mann) and Aunt Bam (Cassi Davis Patton) all under one roof for over two hours of laughter and joy.

As noted in the press release, “Madea is in rare form, as she tries to be a support for her great-grandchildren, and daughter Cora.  While at her granddaughter’s home, Madea uses her combination of tough love and old southern wisdom to help the family navigate their new normal. All seems fine until Mr. Brown takes a trip that leaves audiences in stitches. As always, Perry’s blend of incredible music and laugh out loud moments make the Madea Farewell Play great food for the soul.”

EURweb caught up with the Manns to dish about reprising their characters and the show connecting with a new audience via the BET+ platform.

Check out our conversation below. 

READ MORE: Tyler Perry Announces ‘House of Payne’ Revival on BET + New Comedy Series ‘Assisted Living’


Talk about what it means to have gone on this journey with Tyler Perry and his final performance as his iconic Medea character. 

Tamela: I hope it’s not the end. But it’s been a wonderful journey, connecting with him. We’ve been working together since 1999, and up until now. But we hadn’t been on stage in over 10 years together. So it was really a lot of fun coming together. But yet sad because he said it was going to be the end.

David: Yeah. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us because it’s like every night, you kind of see… Like she said, we hadn’t been on for 10 years, but you see what we were missing. It’s like, “Wow, this is what we love to do.” We love television. We love the movie stuff. But to hear that crowd reaction every night and just the feedback every night. And plus we were having so much fun that sometimes we would have to remember that we have an audience out there, we’re supposed to be performing for them. We would be performing for ourselves on stage to each other.

Tamela: Yes, just having a great time.

How would you describe the creative energy that Tyler Perry fosters on set or on a production such as this?

Tamela: Well, his creativity is incredible — even spontaneous… For him to just come up with something on the spot every night, it’s like we were waiting to see what he’s going to say differently. Because a lot of times the improv for him and David every night would be different. One would say one thing, and the other one would take it over. 

David: And he had an infectious work ethic. It makes you want to do more. He’s a stickler for time. So that’s one of the things that, you know when he’s on set, it’s time to work. And the work ethic, it’s like, let’s get this work done. Everybody makes a joke like how quick he gets stuff turned around. But that’s just who he is. It’s like, “Let’s go work so we can all go play.”

Now that the play is available to stream for viewers on BET+, is it important for you as performers to go online and read the fan reactions?

Tamela: Well sometimes…. actually we don’t even get a chance to because family members and friends are calling us. We had a close friend, actually it was Kirk Franklin, call us and said, “Man, I stayed up and watched the show the other night.” So we’re getting responses from people before we can actually get online. We see some, but for the most part, we’re getting phone calls.

David: We get live reactions from our family and friends. But I like to go on sometime and just see the audience reaction. Then go on social media a little bit. But it’s just really fun to hear crazy lines that people grab to. I think the line from this one is that Big Freedia… For those of you who hadn’t seen the play, that’s a line in there that you’ll remember now that you’ve heard it.

Tamela: But I like the live part of it. Like I go to Sam’s and people stop me and say, “I’ve seen it, and y’all just crack me up in it. Y’all was the entertainment for our family this weekend.” So things like that. I like to talk. Get the one on one with people.

Tyler-Perry’s-New-Madea-Play-2So for folks who have not seen the play, tell us about your characters. David, you play Leroy Brown. How would you describe him? 

David: I’ve played the character for 20 years. So for those of you who watched, Mr. Brown is  colorful, crazy, wacky… He’s one of those saved people that are just too saved. 

Tamela: And then my character, Cora is the peacemaker. I’ve been the peacemaker. I’m always the one in between Medea and Mr. Brown. Trying to get them to stop arguing as usual. They’re always in an argument if they’re not in a physical fight. I’m the one who people are excited to see. It’s like, I’m excited to see them and they’re excited to see me. So I kind of bring joy into the bunch.

What would you say is the central theme of this play, family?

Tamela: I would say family. It’s all about family and in how everybody plays an important part. How sometimes, some family members feel like they’re not important. But what goes down in this play is Medea is explaining and talking to everybody that the role that you have is important. And just making sure that we’re all staying in our lane, and to just encourage everybody that you’re all important.

David: And also the theme of love. It’s finding that right love that’s for you and not settling or accepting anything that comes your way. And that’s one big thing that Medea sits and kind of takes us all to school on is, don’t just fall for anything. There’s somebody out there specifically made for you. There’s somebody made to love you.

Tamela: And don’t push that love away. A lot of times we have a tendency when people are showing us love and compassion, it’s almost like we can be mean. Or just really rough about receiving the love versus just basically just receiving it, taking it on. So those are some things that I think are very important in the show.

Do you think the narrative explored in this play can serve as a catalyst for healing for people struggling emotionally amid COVID-19?

Tamela: It will bring a lot of healing to us. Because right now we need the uplifting. You’re seeing so much negative in the world. This play is bringing joy and laughter. And for it to come out in the time that it came out, we had no idea that all of this would have gone down. Of course we’ve been facing police brutality all our lives, basically in our people. But right now to kind of lighten the load, I think it’s perfect timing.

David: It’s needed now. Especially laughter, laughter being medicine to the soul. Singing, and just the story. And people being locked in with this COVID, and everything else we just needed some good wholesome family entertainment.

Tamela: And we’re looking for whatever we can to again, lighten the load and bring laughter, and happiness of the mind. Right now it’s a lot of mental things going on and we just want to help lighten the load off the brain a little bit.

Tyler Perry as Madea (Getty)

Tyler Perry as Madea (Getty)

Do the Manns have any other ‘spirit lifting’ projects coming up that their fans should keep a look out for? 

David: We do. Tamela’s working on new music right now, as we speak. She just released a new single.

Tamela: It’s called Touch From You.

David: We’re working on different content. We just finished shooting our new YouTube series, Mann Family Dinner.  

Tamela: Go to it on YouTube on MannTV. But also we have a new show on BET. It’s called Assisted Living.

Do you play a married couple on the series?

Tamela: No. Actually it’s our same characters, Mr. Brown and Cora. Cora finds out that it’s this building or owner that needs assistance and investors. So I talk Mr. Brown into going and check out the facility first to see if he would be interested. And then once I come, I’m like, “This will be great for us to be a part of this establishment and to help build it.” And also to give Mr. Brown something to do. With Mr. Brown he’s so bossy. He was like, “I’m doing something every day. I have something to do.” So it’s like he’s spicy.

David: But yet loving. So Mr. Brown comes in and everything doesn’t run like he wants it to run. So he definitely lets everybody know that, “Hey, I’m the head investor in this, and it’s going to run the way I say it runs.” But what Mr. Brown doesn’t know is that the guy that he’s investing with is an old enemy of his from back in the day. But they have to work together because now he’s invested in this assisted living place. So now they have to try to make it work.

Tamela: And Cora is making them make it work.

David: J. Anthony Brown plays the assisted living owner. And it’s kind of crazy from there.

Tamela: It’s funny. But again, Cora’s standing in between Grandpa Vinny and Mr. Brown. I’m the peacemaker again. So I’m wondering when am I going to get some peace?

David: Never.

Tamela: But we’re really excited about the show and the setup for it. And it’s going to be a lot of laughter. So we encourage everybody to take the ride with us.

David+Mann+BET+Presents+Super+Bowl+Gospel+kdOnVATtBfcl

David and Tamela Mann (Getty)

Lastly, is your art or music being inspired in any way by the civil unrest and social justice movements sweeping across the nation?

Tamela: You know, honestly it’s because I myself sing gospel music, and even with the plays and the television show, my character is around my faith, Christianity. And I think really, it just helps right now. We’re kind of helping be the buffer, to again, lighten the load. So really it just is magnifying it even more to try to bring hope and inspiration to people with the music and everything.

David: Tamela released the song called Touch From You. And in the particular song on the video, we’ve strategically placed some pictures of some of the people that have been killed in police brutality. And all of this stuff that’s going on. We didn’t want to do it where we just shoved it in your face. But we wanted to send some messages that like, look-

Tamela: That we feel them.

David: We feel the pain. We’re here. People look at celebrities and think that we have the answers. And that we have it all together. We felt the same pain that everybody else felt.

Tamela: And still feel.

David: And still are feeling the pain. And so it angers us as well. Sometimes we simply don’t have the words to say. Just like everybody else. We sometimes have to back up and try to gather ourselves because we know that our words, and what we say, can cause a little bit of stir if we say the wrong thing.

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