*The 90s sitcom “Saved by the Bell” is returning to TV. The revised Saturday morning favorite will be airing on NBC’s new streaming service Peacock.
The show will focus on a new generation of Bayside High students along with some old favorites. Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is now the governor of California and come under heat as he is blamed for the closing of many low-income schools. To rectify the situation he proposes those students attend Bayside High.
The transferred students find themselves adjusting to being out of their element, while the Bayside students try to play nice and make room for the new kids. We spoke with Dexter Darden and Belmont Cameli about their characters.
“It really is important to show that just where you are doesn’t necessarily have to be where you’re going to go. For Devante to come to Bayside and meet Jamie Spano and Mac Morris and have the opportunity to interact with all these kids who aren’t like him and not what he’s used to, it’s really special,” is what Dexter had to say about his character Devante.
Belmont Camelin plays Jamie who is the son of Jessie Spano, played by Elizabeth Berkley. As a true fan of the original, you have to wonder if the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree? Is Jessie’s son a passionate outspoken book worm kind of kid? Well only somewhat according to Belmont:
“I don’t think he’s as strong about his academics but he’s certainly passionate and he’s a very expressive person. His mom has made him very aware of his feelings and relationships,” says Belmont.
Not only was Jessie a straight-A student she was also vocal about anything she felt wasn’t right, so it’ll be interesting to see her son be just as vocal as the show covers topics that the 90’s version didn’t cover.
Check out the new generation of “Saved By The Bell” November 25 on Peacock.
’12 Years a Slave’ Screenwriter John Ridley Exposes ‘The Other History of the DC Universe’ with Black Lightning
*Step into the DC Universe and history awaits. So much history. So many iconic heroes and villains. Yet only one side of the story.
Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley is opening a new door into the familiar backdrop with his new comic book offering, “The Other History of the DC Universe.” As the name implies, Ridley shines a light on different perspectives of the iconic moments of DC history, from the eyes of heroes of color.
‘The Other History of the DC Universe” kicks off with Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning for its first issue. The inclusion of Black Lightning was a no brainer to Ridley, whose view of comics changed with seeing the hero on the cover of Justice League #173. The sight of Black Lightning talking to members of the legendary Justice League proved to Ridley that someone like him could exist in the same world as the superhero elite.
“I love comics. I read comics, but I remember the first time I saw Black Lightning as a hero. When I went to the comic book shop, this was mid-’70’s and I was young. But I had to pull back,” Ridley, a longtime comic book fan, recalled while speaking at a media roundtable to promote “The Other History of the DC Universe” about his fateful trip to purchase comics the week he was introduced to Black Lightning. “And I remember getting that bag that week and honestly, I remember like it was yesterday, and spilling the bag out and going through them and seeing Black Lightning and seeing a hero who looked like me, was a teacher like my mother was. That was really, really impactful for me.”
Anchored by Ridley, “The Other History of the DCU Universe,” features artists Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia. Covers for the five-issue bimonthly DC Black Label miniseries were constructed by Camuncoli (with Marco Mastrazzo) and Jamal Campbell. “The Other History of the DC Universe” marks Ridley’s latest venture into the world of comics after finding success outside the genre as a screenwriter with critically-acclaimed and award-winning work in film (“12 Years a Slave”), television (ABC’s “American Crime,” Showtime’s “Guerilla”).
Despite his good fortune in other areas, Ridley’s love of comics and Black Lightning remained as the country transitioned into its current state of strained race relations, a divided political climate and efforts for more diversity. Coupled with frequent protests, the arrival of “The Other History of the DC Universe” couldn’t come at a better time. For the project, Ridley played it close to his heart by selecting heroes “that meant something to me when I was growing up,” while paying respect to DC’s history and readers.
“I didn’t want to do a made-up history of the DC universe. I didn’t want to go through and say, ‘I don’t care about what happened before. This is John Ridley’s version of it.,’ said Ridley. “Honestly, I wanted a reaction…where a fan will look at moments and go, ‘Omigosh, I remember that.’ Here’s some different context.’ It wasn’t about saying the past doesn’t equal the moment that we live in. It was saying we’re here for a reason. We’re here because we’re fans.”
Ridley’s inspiration for “The Other History of the DC Universe” is more personal as each issue reflects the essence of storytelling, with someone telling their version of what happened while relaying their thoughts on how events affected them. With Black Lightning, readers experience his interaction with the Justice League and the world’s view of those with superpowers he felt focused more on worldwide threats than what was going on in his hometown.
“Here’s Black Lightning giving a version of an oral history, saying ‘Yeah, I remember that moment too,’ But it may be a little bit different than an individual would contextualize it, different readers,” Ridley stated. “But also what’s interesting about the series for me is that we also revisit moments from other characters that have a shared moment and may remember it completely differently than Jefferson Pierce did or feel differently about it or feel differently about Jeff Pierce. About, you know, why are you always this way. So for me, more than anything, it was trying to treat these stories as an oral history and getting the reaction that you have.”
Reflecting on stories he heard from his parents, Ridley recounted how moments shared were “were real heartbreak.”
“My dad was in the Air Force. They were all about service. And yet, there were moments where they were treated as just black people. But when we hear stories from people, when people share stories, if you have an ounce of empathy in you, you can hear that pain, that joy, that heartache, heartbreak. The inspiration that comes from an individual. Those stories, again, if you have the slightest ounce of empathy in you, the slightest capacity to see yourself in others, those stories mean much more,” Ridley added. “We definitely could’ve done the other history of the DC universe where it was just about big action moment and here’s Black Lightning just being a hero. Those are great stories because all of these folks are heroes in these stories. But I wanted to try to treat them as though you were listening to your uncle, your brother, your aunt, your sister, your cousin tell these stories in their own voices with their own perspectives and make them in some ways oral histories and so that it wasn’t just about these, a series of giant moments. But these were lives that were being shared. These were perspectives that were being shared.”
Black Lightning’s oral history isn’t the only one readers will be privy to. “Other heroes giving their side of “The Other History of the DC Universe” include Mal Duncan a.k.a. Herald and his wife, Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), Renee Montoya (the Question), Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana) and Black Lightning’s daughter Anissa, a.k.a Thunder.
“There were many characters that I wanted to try to include. For example, in the first issue, Mari McCabe, Vixen, I did not see the story as having her own story. But there was no way that you could not have Vixen in this series, that her appearances were not just a one and done. There was an arc to it. That is Jefferson Pierce being myopic and underestimating her. I thought that was really important that it wasn’t just characters of color railing against the prevailing culture all the time. Jefferson is a black man of a certain age, with a certain concept of Mari, what she could do and what she couldn’t do. And the next thing, she’s working with Superman. She’s big-time,” Ridley said while highlighting notable appearances from Vixen and John Stewart, one of the most popular Green Lanterns in the comics.
“So his [Black Lightning’s] relationship with John Stewart. A lot of people were like, ‘How could you not have John Stewart?’ John Stewart was always gonna be a part of it. but again, Jefferson’s relation to John and their reconciliation. I wanted to have a very human end.”
The views of black heroes only scratch the surface of “The Other History of the DC Universe.” As much attention is paid to Renee Montoya, a Latinx police officer, as well as Tatsu Yamashiro, a Japanese national living in America during the ‘80s, Ridley made sure these characters’ stories were given their due, adding another layer to his latest opus.
“With Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana), I remember in the ’80s, when America was at its height of anti-Japanese xenophobia. What’s it like for a Japanese national coming to America in the ’80s,” Ridley explained about Yamashiro. “And on the one hand, there are other people who look at her as a hero when she is in costume. There are other people who look at her as a menace when she’s just walking around.
“Renee had to be in it. You want to talk about a character who just started as a minor character in ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and is now one of the most durable characters in the DC Universe? And played The Question at one point, my all-time favorite character, The Question. So she was gonna be in it. Always,” he continued about his reasons for including Montoya. But also Latinx, a police officer. You know, this series started before our current reckoning on race and police. To tell a story from a police officer’s point of view, who’s Latinx, who’s closeted, who believes in law and order but is also commenting on things like the LA uprising and what that means to her as a police officer.”
Coming back to Black Lightning,” Ridley examined another side of the hero with his daughter Anissa. The young heroine’s point of view is one that differs at times from her father’s, which is shown in the first issue.
“I just thought it was really important to try to bookend this series with a father and daughter. And there are things that you will see in Anissa’s story that goes back in common with what you have seen or read in the very first issue. And again, Jefferson pierce as a human being and things that she has missed, things that he deals with as a man of a certain age. And some of them positive, some of them, I wouldn’t say slightly negative, but certainly representative of a myopia that we see in the black community,” Ridley told the round table. “So it was not just again trying to pick up the characters from column A and column B. the characters that I felt a connection to because I felt like I had seen them grow up over a certain space and time. They had been part of my life. And wanting to be very honorific with the work the creators had done in the past having them arrive in this space.”
Furthering the diversity, Ridley included Duncan and Beecher in to the mix, knowing a couple with different views of the same happening would be a fun aspect to play with.
“It was very important that in this story, we were going to have at least one that was a black couple who were in love, who were sharing their story together. Also, because I thought it would be fun for a couple to…it was kind of ‘The Newlywed Game.’ ‘Wait. What? How do you remember that? No, that wasn’t how it happened.”
As the series examines unique views from its roster of heroes, it’s worth noting each issue takes place around the time the heroes were created by DC. According to Ridley, the time frame ranges from the ’70s to the early 2000s, a period that supports Ridley’s intent to create a real timeline and add weight to each character’s story.
“It was really important to me because I did think it added to the verisimilitude, it added to the reality to say that Jefferson Pierce is only gonna live in a certain amount of time. When the story ends or wherever he be found, he’d be roughly my age,” he said about placing Black Lightning in the ‘’70s. ”The stories begin essentially and I think you see in the issues, they all have timelines on them. I think roughly ‘77 to ’90-something. Technically, it’s a little bit earlier because he is in the Olympics in 1972. But if he was a decathlete, he would’ve been in the ’72 games. He would’ve been around the Munich massacre. What does that mean for him as a person? What does that mean for a guy who wanted to be better because he lost his father and at the games where was going to show what an amazing human specimen he is. it means nothing, compared to the loss of those Israeli athletes.
The Munich massacre was an attack during the 1972 Olympics, involving members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. The incident resulted in the deaths of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, who were taken hostage by Black September.
“So I wanted those true timelines. Tatsu for example, coming around in the ’80s. What would that mean for a Japanese national? What would it mean for Renée to be a cop in the ’90s,” he added. “We treat it as a timeline. It was important to me because it helps makes these characters and their stories as real
Speaking to EURweb’s Lee Bailey, a humble Ridley welcomed the possibility of ‘The Other History of the DC Universe” crossing over into film as a way for his story to be seen by more people.
“I will say this. I have been very, very fortunate. Obviously, I work in film and I work in television and I continue to do so. So for me, writing a graphic novel was the endgame. It was so special and its’ such precious real estate. I mean I can’t lie. Even if somebody came back and this was successful enough and they said, ‘Hey, we would like to try and make it into a movie or a series or something like that…who doesn’t want to try to reach as many people as humanly possible, said Ridley. “But for me, because I am lucky enough to work in other spaces, it wasn’t about, ‘Oh this only is going to be fun or enjoyable or impactful for me if they make it into a movie. No, I mean the fact that this is going to be out, people are going to, within the confines of the Covid world we live in, go somewhere, purchase it, get it to read it, talk about it, love it, hate it. You know, embrace it. And whatever those things that people do with any issue, I get to be part of that. That is so special, in and of itself. If that is all that happens to it. I could not be more fortunate.”
The first issue of John Ridley’s “The Other History of the DC Universe” is on sale now. The second issue of the miniseries will be available on January 26, 2021.
WATCH NOW: Reign Edwards & Helena Howard Star in New Series ‘The Wilds’
*Young Hollywood took the Amazon Studios & ABC Signature original series “The Wilds” by storm.
The 10-part series follows a group of teenage girls from different backgrounds who survive a plane crash and are left on a deserted island.
“They didn’t know how long they were going to be stranded on the island. Or when help was going to come,” says actress Helena Howard who plays Nora
These girls go into survival mode. However, surviving isn’t the only battle they will endure. You’ll see them clash and reveal secrets/traumas they’ve been through.
“I love that this character is giving you a glimpse of something that she doesn’t tell anybody,” says Reign Edwards who stars as Rachel. “It’s literally something that only her family knows and even then they had to discover.”
“Mental health plays a key role in the series. It’s a tough thing for people to go through. Especially in the black community. It’s not talked about as often. We’re just now starting the conversation on Mental health,” Edwards told us.
And for a plot twist, the viewers wouldn’t have imagined … these girls did not end up on this island by accident.
“There’s a lot of twists and turns. You’d think one thing is another. You’d be shocked that one thing is even there. I think not just with the excitement but with the emotional journey you go on with these characters, I hope it reminds everyone to just shower everyone you meet with love,” says Edwards.
“The Wilds” premieres on Prime Video on Dec. 11
Say What? Singer Donell Jones is Done with Drugs – Converted Setbacks into Positive New Way of Life
*R&B legend Donell Jones wants his fans to know he’s no longer in the clutches of debt, addiction, a smoking habit and other vices that affected him throughout his career.
His new album “100% free!” is exactly that: 100% free. Jones will release it to his fans in a matter of days.
Jones cemented his musical legacy long ago with chart-topping hits like “Where I Wanna Be” and “U Know What’s Up.”
But all that glitters is not gold. Jones says he dealt with crippling addictions along the way, and they led him to take a break from making music.
He built a successful career despite his demons. Now, clear of the crushing weight that hampered his personal life, the R&B icon feels he’s reborn and just getting started again. He even gave up smoking.
Jones is open and honest about his setbacks and his triumphs, and explains how “100% Free!” is his most daring step yet.
Zenger: How have you been during this Covid-19 Craziness?
Jones: You know what? Man, to be honest with you, this thing has kind of made my life a lil’ better in a sense. And let me explain to you why… I’m already an introvert, and I stay in the studio all the time.
So, it really didn’t change my life as far as that. But what it really made me do is made me think about my life and changed a few things. I got out and started working out a lil’ bit. It made me want to get out in that sun, so in that sense, it kind of helped me a little bit because I’m always in the house.
Zenger: It definitely changed all of us in some way, shape, or form. I think it stinks that you guys aren’t able to promote and tour. Still, most of you have been using social media and the internet in a remarkable way to supplement the lack of touring and public appearances.
Jones: Yeah, man! It really opened up the social media thing for me. But not only that, man, it made me just think about life and made me realize I gotta live my life to the fullest, man.
Zenger: ‘Karma (Payback),’ love the new single. I’m always amazed how artists like you are able to not only create timeless music but relative music as well. Is it just a matter of keeping your ear to the street?
Jones: Thank you! For me, it’s always been just following my heart.
That record was an old record from, The Stylistics. I used to love that record. Me and my group used to sing that record. So, I always knew one day I was going to do something with that particular record.
I woke up one day I was in bed with my wife, and I woke up singing the song. She asked me, ‘Damn, what song is that?’ And I told her that it was The Stylistics joint.
So, immediately I went downstairs and started making the music, and just wrote a whole new song from it, but I kept their thing, which was, “Payback.”
I added the ‘Karma’ thing. When songs hit me like that when I’m sleeping, that means I’m supposed to do it. And that’s exactly what happened with that particular song. It was something that I was supposed to do, and it hit me at that specific moment.
Zenger: ‘Where I Wanna Be’ has to be one of the greatest songs ever made. But I gotta tell you, your rendition of Stevie Wonder’s, ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet,’ I believe you outdid the legend on that one. I’m not just saying that either.
Jones: Wow! I don’t know about that (laughing). Let me be completely honest with you, man…and I’m a Stevie Wonder fan. When I did that particular song, I didn’t even know it was a Stevie Wonder song.
A lady had sung it to me, a producer’s wife sang the song to me, and I sang it back to the tape. I didn’t even know it was a Stevie Wonder song.
Had I known it was a Stevie Wonder song, I probably would have been so intimidated to do it, and it probably wouldn’t have even come out right. So, I’m glad I didn’t know, but I think that added to it a little bit.
Zenger: When I watched your ‘Unsung’ on TV One, you had a very brutally honest episode. I learned things about you that I didn’t know. Was it therapeutic for you at that moment to share so much of yourself and get things off your chest?
Jones: It was. You know why? I had watched that ‘Unsung’ show a few times with artists on there. I just felt like…I didn’t know I was going to get the opportunity to do it, but I said, ‘If I ever do this show, I’m going to let it all out because if I’m going through it, maybe my story can help somebody else.’
And I just wanted to be 100% real. My family asked me, ‘Do you want me to talk about this?’ I was like, ‘Man, ya’ll just keep it 100 and tell the truth. That’s what we gonna do on this one. We’re going to tell the truth. We’re not holding anything back, and we’re going to give it to them in the raw, and that’s how I approached it.
Zenger: Do you see a void in what is deemed real R&B music? And when will we see a Donell Jones record or a case record? So we know we can expect that void to be filled.
Jones: I feel like R&B can never die.
I feel like the lines are blurred right now between the youngsters doing their thing. They’re mixing the rap with R&B. It’s like a hybrid right now.
But true R&B, I don’t think it will ever die. You got people like H.E.R. you got people like Ella Mai, a lot of youngsters out there doing it. I think the difference between the R&B of yesteryear and today is the fact that our subject matter was different.
We talked about love a little bit more. Today they talk about how much money they got, how many chicks they are going to get into the bed. And our stuff was mostly based on relationships with one person.
We had a couple of swagged-out records, but for the most part, it was mostly about love, makeups and breakups, and all things that happen in relationships.
I think that’s what makes our generation of music a little bit different. One thing about music, man, is we’re always going to be in relationships out there, but ain’t nobody talking about what they are going through.
So, I feel like there is a street that ain’t nobody driving on, and an artist like myself can just drive on that street by myself and just have a lane to myself and an artist like me.
Zenger: Absolutely! I was bugged out when I found out ‘Where I Wanna Be’ was a real-life situation for you.
Jones: Every song I always write is based on my personal experience.
Because I feel like, if I’m going through it, then I know other people in the world are going through it, and not only that, when I’m singing it, I can give it the type of emotion it needs because it was my life. It was a part of me. Not only am I singing about something that I have been through, but I’m still feeling the emotions of it when I’m trying to deliver it on record.
Zenger: Your upcoming album is titled ‘100% Free!’ That’s a compelling and profound title. Why is Donell Jones 100% Free now?
Jones: Well, I can say that I don’t have any contracts. I’m not signed to anybody. I paid everybody back all the money they said I owed them.
So, I’m free. I’m in the green now as well as I used to think negatively. I used to smoke cigarettes. I used to smoke marijuana on a regular everyday basis. I used to drink. All those things, man, just fell away.
I’m not interested in those things any longer. I’m free. I’m free from addiction. I used to be addicted to porn, man. I’m free from all of those things that were addictions for me! Negative thoughts come, but I don’t pay attention to them anymore. Anything you pay attention to is something that has a hold on you. I don’t pay attention to things that don’t mean anything to me anymore.
Zenger: Would you say too much too fast is why you fell into those traps? Or do you feel that was something within you that money and fame brought out?
Jones: I think born into this world; we all have to go through it. We all have to face something. We have to overcome something, and those were some of the things I had to overcome.
My life situations brought me to that point. Those were the things that I was addicted to; those were the things that were in my life. My pops and my mom smoked cigarettes when I was very young. So that’s why I started smoking.
My grandpop was an alcoholic; that’s what made me become an alcoholic and made me want to pick up drinking. All of my life situations brought me to the point where I was at…but I think we as human beings all have to overcome something.
Whether it be an addiction to social media, addiction to pills…anything, we can be addicted to people too. I think we have to overcome those things and just understand that loving yourself is more important than anything.
Zenger: This album’s content, was it a freeing experience because you’re finally making music without those vices?
Jones: In a way, yeah! For me, it’s free because my mind is free, my heart is free, and I love myself. I found love in me.
Many people listen to that ‘Karma’ song and think it’s all about revenge or getting somebody back. But the real truth and the whole story behind it is the second verse when it says, “I fell in love with me. I fell in love with the person I am. I love myself more than I love anybody else, more than I love anything else. I love myself more.”
And that means I’m not going to allow anybody to treat me any kind of way because if you aren’t gonna love me like I love me, you can just go on ahead about your business. And that’s why I’m naming this album ‘100% Free,’ because I’m free from all those vices, and it’s also going to be 100% free to the fans to download for free.
Zenger: Will that be available on your website www.donelljonesmusic.com?
Jones: It is. It will be on my website. I’m still going to put it on iTunes and all that, but I’m asking my fans if you want to download it for free, you can, if after you download it and you feel like you want to support me, you can.
But I’m not asking for any money. I’m doing this out of the kindness of my heart because…you know, man, they have been waiting around for me, and I want to do it. And my next album, the one I’m going to come with after this one, I’m going to ask for the support.
Zenger: Your debut album, ‘My Heart’ came out in 1996, ‘100% Free’ will have a 2020 release date, musically, what can we expect to hear from you?
Jones: It’s a better version of me now. Back then, I was so young, man. My voice has changed. My voice is not as high as it was back then. I was like 19-years old.
I’m 40-years old. And I smoked for 30-years. A lot of things have changed. At the end of the day, it’s still Donell. It’s just a more polished Donell because I know who I am now. The younger me…if I had known then what I know now, things would have been a lot different. I appreciate my growth and who I’ve become.
Zenger: Is there a collaboration that has escaped you in your 25 years or so in the industry you would like to fulfill?
Jones: I’m just getting started to be honest with you. One artist that I would love to work with is Mary J. Blige. I never got a chance to work with her. Hopefully, one day, we will get a chance to get it in.
Zenger: It’s an honor speaking to you, brother, continue to make good music for us, and anytime you have anything you want to get out, feel free to hit me up. Is there anything else you want to add?
Jones: I just want to tell the fans; I appreciate them for rocking with me all these years. Again, my album is called ‘100 Free’ will be on my website to download for free. Thanks again for rocking with me. And thank you, brother, for allowing me to speak with you today.
(Edited by Daniel Kucin Jr. and Annie Yanofsky)
The post Legendary Singer Donell Jones Converts Setbacks into Positive New Way of Life appeared first on Zenger News.
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