Aziz Ansari will be SNL’s first South Asian American host
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Comedian Aziz Ansari will host “Saturday Night Live” on Jan. 21, the NBC show announced Tuesday, and in doing so, he will make history as its first host of South Asian descent.

The gig comes on the heels of a big year for Ansari. The standup comic and television star won his first Emmy (outstanding writing for a comedy series) after earning a total of four nominations for his Netflix series “Master of None.”

His nomination for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series was the first for an Indian American. “I’m very happy but it’s a very specific accomplishment,” he laughingly told USA Today about the historic nod.

More than 90 percent of SNL’s hosts have been white, and only two celebrities of Asian descent — Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu — have hosted the show before, according to IndieWire’s demographic breakdown of all of the show’s hosts (that doesn’t include Fred Armisen and Bruno Mars, who both have some Asian ancestry). Most non-white hosts have been black, IndieWire found.

SNL has faced controversy in recent years over diversity issues. In 2013, the lack of a black female cast member led to executive producer Lorne Michael holding special auditions to hire one. He ended up hiring Sasheer Zamata, as well as Leslie Jones (who was initially brought on as a writer).

Melissa Villaseñor joined SNL this year, becoming the show’s first Latina cast member. Nasim Pedrad, on SNL between 2009 and 2014, was the show’s first female Middle Eastern cast member.

Continue onto the Washington Post to read the complete article.

Emmys 2020: Record Number of Black Actors Score Nominations
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collage of emmy nomination images

The Television Academy nominated a record number of Black actors for Emmys on Tuesday morning, with 34.3% of the acting nominees being Black.

There were 102 acting nominees this year across lead, supporting and guest categories for drama, comedy and limited series/TV movie. Thirty-five of those slots went to Black actors (notably, Maya Rudolph actually accounts for two of those slots, being nominated against herself in the guest comedy actress category for her work on both “The Good Place” and “Saturday Night Live”).

Other nominees in top acting categories include Billy Porter, Sterling K. Brown, Zendaya, Anthony Anderson, Don Cheadle, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Regina King, Jeremy Pope, Octavia Spencer and Kerry Washington.

This is a notable increase from last year, when Black actors made up 19.8% of the nominee pool, as well as an increase from 2018, when there were 27.7% Black actors nominated — the previous highest percentage in the Academy’s history.

“2020 isn’t just about the global health crisis. This year we are also bearing witness to one of the greatest fights for social justice in history, and it is our duty to use this medium for change. That is the power and responsibility of television — not only delivering a multitude of services or a little escapism, but also amplifying the voices that must be heard and telling the stories that must be told. Because television, by its very nature, connects us all,” said Frank Scherma, chairman and CEO, Television Academy, at the start of the nominations announcement.

But the fight for inclusion is far from over, as these numbers have ticked up but are still far from parity. And although the acting categories are still split by gender, which forces parity, the writing and directing categories are not.

The writing categories fared better than directing, but only marginally, when it came to parity. Not including the variety series writing category which lists entire staffs on the ballots, the select writers scoring noms in the drama, comedy, limited series/TV movie/dramatic special, variety special and documentary or nonfiction program consisted of 40 people, 13 of which were women. This is 32.5% women nominees (67.5% men). The limited series/TV movie/dramatic special category is what really made the difference, with six of nine nominees here being women, including “Unorthodox’s” Anna Winger and “Normal People’s” Sally Rooney and Alice Birch.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Diverse Concert Series announced by Kennedy Center & Facebook
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Stage for a concert Online transmission. Business concept for a concert online production

As previously announced with the Kennedy Center’s Social Impact initiatives, the Center will launch Arts Across America on July 27, a program to uplift artists and showcase art from communities and regions across the country in this time of uncertainty.

Over 20 weeks, Arts Across America will feature free, digital performances from over 200 diverse, visionary artists who play leadership roles in their communities, exemplify unique regional artistic styles, and are using their medium as a tool for advocacy and social justice. Arts Across America is made possible and livestreamed by Facebook and will continue through December 11, 2020.

“Bringing the world closer together is at the core of Facebook and that’s exactly why we’re supporting the Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America program to help people around the country connect virtually through their appreciation for the arts,” said Facebook’s Director of Public Affairs Robert Traynham. “We look forward to seeing the diverse artists share their talents through this innovative program.”

Arts Across America will be available on Facebook Live, YouTube, and the Kennedy Center website, five days a week at 4 p.m. ET.  A rotating performance schedule will feature performers presented by the Kennedy Center and presenting partner organizations invited to curate performances as identified by the National Endowment for the Arts’s Regional Artist Organizations:Arts Midwest; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation; New England Foundation for the Arts; South Arts; Western States Arts Federation; jurisdictional arts agencies representing U.S. territories; and Sankofa.org. An initial calendar for this celebration of all who contribute to the culture of the U.S. is below: 

  • July 27: Minneapolis, Minnesota – Arts MidWest: TruArtSpeaks
  • July 28: Virginia – Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and The Floyd Country Store: Earl White and Eddie Bond
  • July 30: Miami, Florida – South Arts: Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami, Sammy Figueroa, and Celia & Paco Fonta
  • July 31: Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona – West Arts: Brian Lopez
  • August 3: Burlington, Vermont – New England Foundation for the Arts and The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts: Christal Brown
  • August 4: Kansas City, Missouri – Mid-America Arts Alliance, The Bruce R. Watkins Center, and 1KC Radio: Glenn North
  • August 6: The Virgin Islands Council on the Arts: Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights and the AY AY Cultural Dancers
  • August 11: Maryland – Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation: Joe’s Movement Emporium
  • August 13: Tennessee and Kentucky – South Arts: Amythyst Kiah and The Local Honeys

More information about Arts Across America can be found HERE.

Create a Live Video Community (and Why You Would Want to)
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young black woman filming a video while playing guitar

There is a good chance that most people reading this have tuned into at least one live video over the last week. It’s something that is becoming increasingly popular, and is expected to continue to increase in popularity going forward. There are many good reasons why more influencers and businesses alike are turning to creating a live video community, and harnessing the power that it can offer. Now is the time to learn how to create a live video community and why it’s so important to do so.

“People are showing that they love live video and interacting with it in a big way,” explains Alexander Riesenkampff, the chief executive officer of GetVokl, a livestreaming platform. “We have helped many people build and grow their live video community, and know that as this field continues to grow, we will be helping many more.”

People tend to feel more urgency to watch a live video. Seeing that it’s live gets them interested. The area of live video offers a lot of potential for those who are brand influencers, businesses, or those who want to make a strong connection with their followers. Not only is viewing live video on the rise, but research shows that it tends to outperform recorded video.

Those interested in creating a live video community should spend a little time exploring how others have done it. GetVokl, for example, has many live communities that can be accessed, providing a good place to do a little homework and learn the ins and outs. Once you are ready to get started, GetVokl can help you create a larger community. They also make it easy to directly monetize the audience. The app allows each live video to be shown across multiple platforms at one time. This ensures that your video is live across all platforms, rather than being live on one and then having to post a recorded video to the others.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s a good idea to create a live video community:

  • Live video gives you the ability to increase engagement and interaction with your audience. It allows for immediate feedback and discussion. This helps to build authority, make a connection, and increase loyalty.
  • An effective marketing tool, creating a live video community can lead to an increase in sales and revenue. It gives all types of companies and influencers a way to increase their earnings.
  • Live video communities feel real and authentic. This is one of the reasons why people prefer it to recorded videos. Most recorded videos are heavily edited, yet people prefer the authenticity that comes with it being live.
  • There is a greater ability to make an impact when you engage in live video with your target audience. They can ask questions, provide immediate feedback, and get to know your personality more.
  • Audiences tend to watch for a longer period of time when the information is coming to them live, as opposed to in a recorded video. Keeping your target market watching longer makes for a more effective marketing experience.

“Creating a livestream community is something anyone can do,” added Riesenkampff. “Once you do it, you will see there are benefits. It’s like getting the chance to be with your people in the same room, even if they are thousands of miles away. Whether you hold Q&A sessions, offer how-to talks, host interviews, provide advice, or just offer fun looks into what you are doing, it leaves a powerful mark.”

GetVokl is an app that allows people to livestream across multiple platforms at one time. It’s free to use and ideal for podcasters, coaches, teachers, bloggers, reporters, or others who want their livestream to reach people on multiple platforms. It’s quick to set up and easy to use, requiring only minimal technical knowledge. GetVokl also features VCoin, which helps podcasters earn more money by letting people give tips or donations as the livestreaming takes place. To learn more about GetVokl or to download the app, visit the site: https://getvokl.com/.

 To learn more about how VCoin works, watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qroHqQY0IjY&feature=youtu.be.

About GetVokl:
GetVokl is a free livestreaming community platform built for podcasters, livestreamers, and hosts to unleash the potential of their audiences through interactive live shows that inspire and create vibrant communities. GetVokl allows a livestream to be broadcast over multiple social media platforms at one time. Join or create your live video community. To learn more about GetVokl, please visit https://about.getvokl.com.

Pokémon GO Fest 2020: What to Know About This Virtual Event
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Pokemon Go virtual event poster

Families who play Pokémon GO and have dreamed of taking their kids to the game’s annual live event, Pokémon GO Fest, may have an easier time doing it this year.

The augmented reality game played via mobile app encourages participants to get out and explore their real-world surroundings by connecting the Pokémon universe to actual local businesses and landmarks

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the game’s creators are taking the need to travel out of the equation, allowing families to participate in Pokémon GO Fest 2020 right in their own backyards.

Niantic formerly held Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, Illinois, and in cities in Germany and Japan, where hundreds of thousands of fans traveled to designated outdoor parks to meet up in person and participate in special in-game challenges. But the spread of COVID-19 left the game creators needing a more socially distant way to connect fans.

“While we can’t bring hundreds of thousands of people together in a local park, we can certainly recreate the spirit of what Pokémon GO Fest represents,” Niantic said in a blog post. “We’ve designed this year’s event so trainers around the world can go outside to play and celebrate the summer, and do so, of course, while practicing social distancing and being safe.”

Tickets for the 2020 event, which will be held over the weekend of July 25-26, are on sale now.   A GO Fest ticket, which covers both days of play, will cost each participant (each mobile device running the event and playing along) $14.99. Participants will enjoy a brand new adventure within the app on those days, and will have special projects and assignments to complete, all exclusive to the ticketed event.

During past in-person Pokémon GO events, the parks where the events were held were split into various “habitats,” where players could complete tasks and catch different Pokémon. For the virtual event, there will be rotating habitats within the app which will change every hour, regardless of the player’s geographic location.

Niantic plans to donate all proceeds from Pokémon GO Fest ticket sales to supporting the Black community amid the continuing protests surrounding the deaths of George Floyd other victims of police brutality. The proceeds will fund new projects from Black gaming and augmented reality creators as well as donating to U.S. non-profit organizations who are helping communities rebuild.

This story first appeared on TODAY.com.

With Comic-Con canceled, Warner Bros to hold virtual event ‘DC FanDome’ on Aug. 22
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Fandome promo poster

Comic-Con may be canceled this year, but Warner Bros.’ FanDome will convene a 24-hour virtual gathering of the biggest names in the DC Comics universe.

The studio announced Tuesday that DC FanDome will be held on August 22 starting at 10 a.m. PDT. The event will feature talent announcements and reveal new content from WB games, comics, film and television.

The announcement comes a couple months after Comic-Con, which attracts tens of thousands of comics fans to San Diego, was canceled due to the coronavirus-related restrictions around large gatherings.

Virtual panels will feature cast and creators from DC films including “The Batman,” “Black Adam” and “Wonder Woman 1984.” The panels will also highlight casts from television shows such as “The Flash,” “Stargirl” and “Black Lightning.”

“Wonder Woman 1984” was expected to be one of the summer’s biggest releases, but its arrival in theaters has been delayed until October.

FanDome will be spread out across six different areas on the event’s website: Hall of Heroes, DC WatchVerse, DC YouVerse, DC KidsVerse, DC InsiderVerse and DC FunVerse.

Continue on to KTLA News to read the complete article.

‘Star Trek’ Internship Program Launches at CBS Television Studios, Television Academy Foundation
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Star Trek logo

CBS TV Studios and the Television Academy Foundation are coming together to help a group of students live long and prosper.

The two have announced a partnership to launch the “Star Trek” Command Training Program, an internship open to graduate and undergraduate college students nationwide, in 2020.

Initially, the new program will place two interns per semester on a “Star Trek” series, providing them a “360-degree immersion” in the production process of the “Star Trek” universe. Selected interns will also be allowed to actively engage in writers’ rooms, wardrobe design, on-set production, animation and post-production on Los Angeles-based programs.

“When Gene Roddenberry created the original ‘Star Trek’ series over 50 years ago, it challenged stereotypes and championed diversity and inclusion in an unprecedented way,” said Alex Kurtzman, the executive producer who currently oversees the “Star Trek” universe. “The Command Training Program is our commitment to expanding that inspirational vision across the entire ‘Star Trek’ canon. The ‘Star Trek’ universe is an ideal place to celebrate new voices and perspectives. We want to provide the framework to begin entertainment careers in a meaningful way and can’t wait to get started.”

Applications for the program, which is designed to “reflect the franchise’s core values of inclusion and diversity,” will be open from Nov. 14 through Jan. 21, 2020, with final selections being announced at the end of March.

Continue on to Variety to read the complete article.

Stranger Things Renewed For Season 4 As Netflix Makes Overall Deal With The Duffer Brothers
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The Stranger Things Cast pose together for a picture

Netflix has renewed the worldwide hit series Stranger Things for a fourth season and signed series creators and showrunners The Duffer Brothers to a multi-year film and series overall deal.

“The Duffer Brothers have captivated viewers around the world with Stranger Things and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with them to bring their vivid imaginations to other film and series projects our members will love,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, Netflix.

“We can’t wait to see what The Duffer Brothers have in store when they step outside the world of The Upside Down.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our relationship with Netflix. Ted Sarandos, Cindy Holland, Brian Wright, and Matt Thunell took a huge chance on us and our show — and forever changed our lives. From our first pitch meeting to the release of Stranger Things 3, the entire team at Netflix has been nothing short of sensational, providing us with the kind of support, guidance, and creative freedom we always dreamed about.

We can’t wait to tell many more stories together — beginning, of course, with a return trip to Hawkins!”

View the the Stranger Things 4 announcement video

About The Series:

Stranger Things is a Netflix Original Series created by The Duffer Brothers and produced by Monkey Massacre Productions & 21 Laps Entertainment. The Duffer Brothers serve as executive producers on the series alongside Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps Entertainment and Iain Paterson.

About The Duffer Brothers:

The twin brothers were raised in Durham, North Carolina and began making films in the third grade using the Hi8 camcorder they received as a gift from their parents. They went on to attend Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, graduating in 2007 with degrees in film production.

After graduating, the Duffer Brothers wrote and directed several short films, attracting the attention of both Warner Bros., which acquired their script for the post-apocalyptic horror film Hidden, and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who hired them as writers for multiple episodes of the Fox series Wayward Pines.

Building on their growing success, the Duffer Brothers pitched their idea for Stranger Things, an homage to 1980s genre films. The series was picked up by Netflix and premiered in the summer of 2016 to critical-acclaim and went on to become a global phenomenon, with Matt and Ross at the helm as writers, directors and showrunners.

Stranger Things has garnered over 50 awards nominations, including those from the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Grammys, SAG, DGA, WGA, BAFTA, the Art Directors Guild and the People’s Choice Awards, among many others.

About Netflix:

Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with over 151 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.

Selena Gomez’s dream came true when she spent her day with the sharks from “Shark Tank!”
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Selena Gomez poses with the Shark Tank cast smiling and waving her hand

The “I Can’t Get Enough” star finally cashed in on her birthday present by hanging out on set of the hit reality show. Gomez, who’s a self-proclaimed mega-fan of the show, was gifted a day with the sharks by her friends for her 27th birthday.

Sharing several videos and pictures from behind-the-scenes on Friday, Gomez clearly enjoyed her time with Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner, and Robert Herjavec. The singer wasn’t the only A-listers who was pumped for her day on the set. Herjavec posted a snap with Gomez and wrote, “Guess who made it into the tank!” But it wasn’t all fun and games for the superstar.

Corcoran revealed they had a bet on whether the next business pitch would get a deal from the sharks and Gomez lost.

She made sure to document the loss too. Sharing a pic of Gomez holding up a sign reading “I beat Selena,” the businesswoman couldn’t help but gloat.

“@selenagomez tried her hand at @sharktankabc making a bet on whether the next business would get a deal. She lost! I won!” she wrote. “And to her great credit, she was waiting on set to pay off her $10 debt. What a class act!”

Gomez recently celebrated her 27th birthday in July.

As The Blast reported, she got the surprise of a lifetime when Mark Cuban sent her a personal message inviting her to watch the sharks in action.

Continue on to The Blast to read the complete article.

WonderWorks Debuts Wonder of Magic Halloween Spooktacular Show
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Actors dressed in Halloween costumes

WonderWorks is known for entertaining the whole family all year long, but they are setting out to give people a spooky treat this fall.

Their ongoing family friendly magic show will be transformed for the season, becoming the “Wonders of Magic Halloween Spooktacular.” The show will run from September 30, 2019 through November 2, 2019, with tickets being $18.99, plus tax, for all ages. The show is unique to the Pigeon Forge area, making it a special experience for all.

“We are really excited that Terry and the cast will be presenting a Halloween themed show for the first time. The show will be a little spooky but, as always, completely family friendly and tons of fun,” explains Ed Shaffer, general manager for WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. “With the addition of the Halloween show to our lineup, fans of the Wonders of Magic will now have a chance to see three different shows throughout the year!”

The Wonders of Magic Show features Terry Evanswood, who has been awarded for putting on the Best Magic Shows in Pigeon Forge, and is the longest running headline performer in town. His shows are consistently sold out, and leave audiences in awe at the amazing magic that he is able to perform. The Halloween Spooktacular will offer guests a spooky good time, as it includes special costumes and props that have not been used in other shows. There will also be an array of spooky elements, including fog, haunting sounds, flashing lights, and plenty of eye-bending fun.

Being the only show of its kind in the area, the show times are expected to sell out quickly. Those looking for a family friendly way to get into the Halloween spirit will want to get their seats reserved early. Crowds can expect to be dazzled, amazed, and left in wonder at how Terry is able to pull off the spooky magic. This show is family friendly, with all ages welcome.

“This is going to be the event you don’t want to miss this year,” added Shaffer. “You will laugh, you will get a little spooked, and you will leave having created a great family memory.”

The Wonders of Magic Halloween Spooktacular show times will be 5:30 pm on September 30, 2019, 5:30 pm on Monday’s and Wednesday’s through October 2019, 5:30 pm and 8:00 pm on Friday’s and Saturday’s in October 2019, and select other dates. To see the full schedule and reserve show tickets, visit the site: wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/the-experience/.

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge offers 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, billing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, log onto their site: wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/.

About WonderWorks
WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. WonderWorks is also home to Wonders of Magic, starring Terry Evanswood, the award-winning and longest running performer in Pigeon Forge. WonderWorks hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Open daily from 9 a.m. until midnight. wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge.

CBS Saturday Morning Debuts “Mission Unstoppable,” a New Weekly Series Executive Produced by Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove Who Also Serves as Host
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Miranda Cosgrove poses for Mission Unstoppable poster

CBS announced today that new series Mission Unstoppable, featuring female STEM superstars, is joining the Saturday morning block “The CBS Dream Team, It’s Epic!,” which returns for its seventh season Saturday, Sept. 28th (9:00-12:00 ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Each week, host and Executive Producer Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) and an all-female leadership team showcase women on the cutting edge of science – including zoologists, engineers, astronauts, codebreakers, and oceanographers. Viewers will be inspired by female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) superstars in leading fields including social media, entertainment, animals, design, and the internet – all categories key to the teen experience.

“Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Academy-Award winning actor and advocate Geena Davis serves as co-executive producer of the series, bringing her passion for creating change in the portrayal of strong female characters in entertainment and media that positively influences young viewers.

“Strong female role models are essential to breaking down barriers and educating the next generation of leaders about gender equality,” said Geena Davis, Executive Producer, Mission Unstoppable. “Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Serving as Showrunner is Anna Wenger, four-time Emmy-nominated producer for Billy on The Street, Between Two Ferns, and Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles. Wenger’s expertise in narrative television and sketch comedy television series will provide Mission Unstoppable with its core intent to bring fun and science to life for young viewers.

Continue on to Businesswire to read the complete article.