Oprah, ‘Selma’ director to create original series

Florence Anthony | 2/12/2015, 10:17 a.m.
As usual, traveling to the NAACP Image Awards with Chevrolet proved to be a fabulous, fruitful weekend.
Florence Anthony

As usual, traveling to the NAACP Image Awards with Chevrolet proved to be a fabulous, fruitful weekend. One of the highlights was the Chevy Media Brunch. With Jocelyn K. Allen, General Motors director of regional grassroots and diversity communications and director of diversity marketing and communications, as the host and moderator, the brunch featured a conversation with Spike Lee, whose advertising agency Spike DDB recently produced a commercial for Chevy featuring teenage baseball phenom Mone Davis, as well as enlightenment on exterior lighting on all new vehicles by Martin J. Davis, design manager, exterior lighting and North American exterior design.

We also had a chance to see the brand new 2015 Corvette and chat with Vivian R. Pickard, president of the General Motors Foundation and director of corporate relations.

We then went to the 46th NAACP Image Awards ceremony, where we were thrilled with appearances by superstars such as Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, who won Entertainer of the Year, and host Anthony Anderson. The legendary Chaka Khan performed at the After Glow, where yours truly was thrilled to be reunited with my dear friend and old roommate Khandi Alexander, now known as Mama Pope on “Scandal.”

Oprah Winfrey and “Selma” filmmaker Ava DuVernay are creating an original series for OWN, with Oprah set to appear in a recurring role. DuVernay will write, direct and executive produce the drama, adapted from the novel “Queen Sugar” by Natalie Baszile, which will follow a spirited woman, along with her teenage daughter, who leaves behind her upscale L.A. lifestyle for her Southern roots by way of an 800-acre Louisiana sugar cane farm her recently departed gave her. The project marks DuVernay’s first television series and Winfrey’s acting debut on OWN.

Courtney Vance has joined Ryan Murphy’s FX miniseries “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson” as defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, Variety has confirmed. The “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” alum joins previously cast “Dream Team” players John Travolta, who will play Robert Shapiro, and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian. Cuba Gooding Jr. will portray Simpson, and Sarah Paulson was cast as prosecutor Marcia Clark.

Distinctive Assets, the L.A.-based entertainment marketing company credited with beginning the marketing craze of celebrity swag more than 15 years ago, once again produced the official talent gift bags and backstage gift lounge for the 57th annual Grammy Awards. The legendary show’s presenters and performers, who included Madonna, Sam Smith, Pharrell Williams, Usher, Common, John Legend and host LL Cool J, were treated to fabulous thank you gifts in acknowledgement of their participation.

Highlighting this year’s gift bonanza was INBEAUTE Finger Head Spa from Japan’s leading beauty company MTG, fashion headwear (including MLB and NFL caps) from New Era and signature velour tracksuits from Sean John. Other lounge gifts included Gibson guitars, SIS by Simone I. Smith, Devicewear protective cases and Sprayground #Finishit backpacks. Talent also walked away with a pre-assembled Grammy gift bag that represented a diverse portfolio of brands ranging from unique to useful.