Friday, May 31, 2013

Jay-Z's Great Gatsby Soundtrack is a Failure

When the first trailer for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby was released a year ago, it was set to the music of Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," from the sometimes duo's incredibly self-important Watch the Throne album.

On the surface it made sense. Jay-Z -- who retired as a rapper in 2003, only to re-emerge three years later as a branding mogul who raps mainly to further his brand recognition and expand on his legacy (and occasionally become a topic of discussion in White House press briefings) -- has become the soundtrack for film trailers from 42 to Sex in the City 2 to Safe House to GI Joe: Retaliation to a few movies that could be listed but no one would recognize.

There's no clear beginning of this music-to-movie relationship. One could say it began with 2007's American Gangster, Jay's underwhelming post-retirement, post-Kingdom Come backlash comeback-slash-concept album.

But looking further back, there was 2004's Fade to Black concert documentary, his 2000 BackstageStreets is Watching, his loosely plotted feature film/music video compilation DVD from 1998. concert documentary and, before it all,

What made the Gatsby trailer different from everything before it was that it was released at the height of Jay and Kanye's griping about the gilded cages they had wrought with the fame and fortune they've pursued with almost single-minded mastery and featured a group of well-dressed Black folk cruising a New York City bridge in a fancy drop top vehicle while clinking champagne glasses and wielding a bottle of alcohol.

Set in the 1920's, it played like a science fiction or alternate history, making a dozen statements without missing a beat. By the time the actual boring, overblown Romain Gavras-directed video for "No Church in the Wild" came out a few days later, it paled in comparison. Where the video was all aesthetic and slow-motion signifiers signifying nothing, the Gatbsy trailer was garish and raucous and vibrant and personal and decadent and sinister. Gavras alluded to Arab springs and London riots and civil rights battles and Occupy movements with beautiful moving pictures, but Lurmann's trailer was all tension and menace and masquerades of a more relatable form. For all its visual reaching, "Church" was provocation for provocation's sake; Gatsby's trailer was provocative because it made a book we've all read more than once seem like a movie we had to see -- even if it's already been translated to film four times and this one was directed by the guy who brought us Moulin Rouge.

All this needs to be taken into account when evaluating the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby because, despite the quaint origin story of Jay and Lurhmann meeting in the room at the Mercer Hotel where Jay was recording "No Church in the Wild," this soundtrack has not been advertised or talked about in terms of art, but sheer market power: the big names, the big event, the "executive produced by Jay-Z" of it all.

Yet, listening to the album, there seems to be a small handful of songs (if that) that Jay himself would actually pump through his solid rhodium Beats by Dre headphones. This is not his Made in America festival, which he ostensibly curates with music that would be in a playlist that actually gets used on his iPhone 7. This is not Paid in Full, the 2002 soundtrack to the movie he produced, which highlighted the type of music he grew up on and served as a platform for the artists on his label. This is his minority share in the Brooklyn Nets, being flipped for courtside seats, a box suite, 40/40 and Roc-a-Wear stores and Ace of Spades deals in the Barclays Center. This is Business Jay. Even the "JG" (Jay Gatsby) insignia from the movie poster is transformed into "JZ" for the soundtrack artwork. Because he's not a business, man, he's a logo, like the Coca-Cola script or the golden arches.

Review: 'After Earth' crashes on take-off

I have so many questions after seeing "After Earth," the new sci-fi action-adventure starring Will Smith and his 14-year-old son, Jaden.

First, just how much blinding power is in that famous smile of his? On the day Will Smith floated the idea — "sci-fi flick, father-son friction, me and the kid will star" — did its sheer warmth and radiance make everyone in the room believe that anything, including "After Earth" as an actual, viable movie, was possible?
Someone wrote the checks.
And then someone hired a director. Which leads to another question: Have alien body snatchers made off with M. Night Shyamalan?

There is no small irony that this sci-fi action adventure is about surviving a serious crash. The scorched earth left behind by "After Earth" is sure to leave a scar on everyone involved.

Although the Smith franchise will no doubt recover, the toxic ozone hanging over Shyamalan won't lift any time soon.

"After Earth" has a hint of the skin-crawling fright of Shyamalan films past, the ethereal palette he favors, echoes of the tender human touches we saw in his Oscar-nominated "The Sixth Sense." Enough to feel that Shyamalan is still in there, fighting since "Signs" in 2002 to regain control. But not enough to save "After Earth."

And not enough to explain why the director's films keep getting worse. It must be body snatchers, ones from a planet that has no clue how to make a movie.

Has Smith forgotten that his strength is his warmth, his humanity? The effortless charm of his turns in "Men in Black," "Six Degrees of Separation" and of course "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," which ruled the '90s, does not even show up for a cameo in "After Earth."

That failure to communicate cannot be chalked up to the movie's more serious tone. The actor was equally charismatic in the far more serious "The Pursuit of Happyness." Smith earned that Oscar nod for his portrayal of the homeless Wall Street-hopeful/single dad, another father-son story that featured Jaden.
The bones of Smith's story are not the problem. The issues churned up by an A-type dad with high expectations and a son's failure to measure up are classic. It's the transition to screenplay by Gary Whitta, who wrote the post-apocalyptic tale "The Book of Eli," and Shyamalan, that is rocky.

The script has no nuance, none. And when Shyamalan moves into the director's chair, the script problems are magnified.

Everything is spelled out, underlined in red. Take the close-up on a "Restricted Access" sign followed by the overkill of having someone proceed to explain what "Restricted Access" means.

Speaking of overkill, flashbacks, thousands of them, become things to be feared as much as any space alien.
Smith plays Cypher, a tightly wound, high-ranking United Ranger, protectors of humanity 1,000 years after Earth could no longer sustain life as we know it. Mankind now lives on planet Nova Prime. Its resident aliens, the Skrel, have created a monster race called the Ursa, genetically bred to hunt humans. The Ursas are blind, only able to sniff out our kind by smelling fear. That particular quirk will set up one of the film's major themes — fear and how to control it, or preferably, not have it at all, ever.

After a very dull opening narration to lay out all that history, the film finally gets underway as Kitai (Jaden Smith) is finding out that he failed the test to become a Ranger like Dad. He's bummed, and worse, Dad's due home for dinner tonight after a long stretch patrolling the galaxy, and he'll be bummed too. But Kitai's scientist mom, Faia (Sophie Okonedo), thinks she has the cure — a father-son bonding trip.

After a few recriminations over dinner, Cypher tells Kitai to pack his bag. Not for vacation, but to tag along on Dad's next military mission.

Let's take a moment to talk about the sci-fi effects. In this age of incredible ones, most of "After Earth's" seem inspired by the 1950s, one generation beyond tinfoil. The spacecraft looks exactly like a giant flying stingray sans the tail. Which might not matter, but …. When the craft crashes on a still hostile Earth, the only survivors — Cypher critically injured and Kitai scared to step up — are in the front of the craft, while the life-saving beacon is in the "tail" section.

The rest of the film hangs on finding that oft-mentioned tail. That story arc will test Kitai's courage and Cypher's patience, since the injury means he can bark out orders only by remote. Earth has many perils — mainly its wild animal population and one Ursa that survived the crash — don't ask. Jaden will be required to do a lot of major stunt work if Kitai is to survive.

As Gen. Cypher Raige, Smith has never seemed stiffer, like Patton without the personality. It's as if his Ranger suit were two sizes too small and he's trying to just deal with it. Meanwhile, Jaden struggles with the same issues as his character. He is trying so hard that the teenager's engaging on-screen presence, the one that made "The Karate Kid" such a kick, mostly disappears.

He's best when running, jumping and fighting the beasties. Both dad and lad have a tough time with the deadly dialogue.

If you're still wondering whether "After Earth" is a disaster, the question is not if, but how big?

Hot 97 Nicki Minaj Met Her Nemesis Live on Hot 97 This Morning

Nicki Minaj, with Hot 97 Program Director Ebro looking on.
Nearly a year ago Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg stepped in a fresh pile of shit live onstage at Summer Jam when he wore his backpack on his sleeve and straight dissed Nicki Minaj's super-hit "Starships." You'll recall, in his attempt to kowtow to the "real" hip-hop fans in the crowd at a secondary stage and watching live via Internet stream, Rosenberg called "Starships" "bullshit." Minaj -- usually very level headed and open to critique -- surprisingly didn't cop well to what he had to say. She refused to perform. The New York Times hit the nail on the head in a summary of events shortly after, Nicki called Funk Master Flex to vent, and life went on. But Minaj hasn't been on Hot 97 in person since the ordeal, and this morning, she and Rosenberg spoke face to face in order to find common ground. Did they? 

Rosenberg explained himself as best he could to a rather bored looking Minaj. He meant what he said that day, but certainly didn't expect it to take on the life it did. He also regretted the fact that it turned into an issue of race and gender. "I was a women's study minor in college," he said, adding that he wants nothing more than to see women succeed and is the "antithesis" of the type of guy Minaj painted him as shortly after the incident occurred. He regrets most about that day -- wrong time, wrong place, wrong context. On his way to the parking lot, he used security for the first time in his 16 year radio career.

Nicki Minaj

For her part, Minaj's only regrets not performing. She has a duty to the fans, she said, and she disappointed many that day by not going on. They didn't know what was going on behind the scenes, got no explanation, and didn't deserve to be put in the middle. BUT, as a woman in rap, she's taken a lot of shit over the years from men who feel entitled to pop off at the mouth about her and her career. She was sick of that. And the fact that it came from a guy, Rosenberg, who she claims she'd never heard of, made her all the more angry. About that she offers a thorough and rather eye-opening opinion about what it's like, if you'll please forgive this term, to be a female in the game. The entire 27 minutes they devote to the incident is rather fascinating. 

Give it a look:

Snoop Lion drops in on TV's 'One Life to Live'

There’s really nothing Snoop Dogg can’t do.

The multi-platinum rapper has already amassed an impressive resume in his more than two-decade career. He’s been a pimp, an occasional actor, a spokesman for everything from flavored malt liquor to Hot Pockets and is currently moonlighting as a reggae singer (we’re still getting used to calling him Snoop Lion).
Now, Snoop can add one more notable yet deeply weird accomplishment under his belt: soap star.

For those not looped into the current happenings in the world of daytime soaps, the rapper has lately been dropping in on the classic soap “One Life to Live.” 

Snoop is playing himself during his four-episode stint, which started Tuesday.

But what brings Snoop D-O Double G (Sorry, Lion) to the fictional drama-filled town of Llanview? Promoting his new film, “Reincarnated,” of course.

The documentary, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and is currently available on iTunes, explores his pilgrimage to Jamaica, where he immersed himself in the Rastafarian culture as he cut his reggae debut as Snoop Lion.

He didn’t drop in on the series to just promote himself, though. Snoop also produced and is featured on the series’ new theme song, “Brand New Start,” which also features soul singer IZA, a new signee to Snoop’s production company, Berhane Sound System, and his wife’s imprint, Boss Lady Entertainment.

“One Life to Live” ran on ABC for more than 40 years before it was revived as a Web series earlier this year on Hulu and iTunes. The rapper previously appeared on the soap when it aired on ABC.
Snoop will also appear on Thursday’s episode and two additional episodes next week.

Father of former UCLA basketball star indicted

Ronald Holmes, father of former UCLA basketball star Shabazz Muhammad and himself a former hoops standout, has been indicted on federal fraud charges.

Holmes, 51, was detained Thursday in Las Vegas. He has pleaded not guilty to bank fraud, as well as counts for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud.

According to the indictment, which was unsealed Thursday, Holmes and several unnamed associates used fraudulent information and straw buyers to obtain home mortgages and buy and sell houses, keeping the proceeds for themselves.
The activities took place between 2006 and 2009 and involved at least three Las Vegas properties. The complaint seeks to recover more than $2.5 million.

News of the indictment was first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Holmes, a standout guard for USC in the early 1980s, is best known for his role in raising a professional tennis player daughter and a son, Shabazz Muhammad, who was once the nation's top-ranked amateur basketball player.

Muhammad, who left UCLA after just one season this spring, is preparing for the NBA draft.

A Los Angeles Times article in March revealed that Muhammad was actually 20, even though he and his father had long stated he was 19.

This is not the first brush with the law for Holmes. In 2000, he was sentenced to six months house arrest for fraud involving multiple mortgages in Los Angeles County that were obtained in the early 1990s using false information.

The details of that case bear remarkable similarities to the current charges. According to U.S. Atty. Daniel G. Bogden's complaint, Holmes lived in two houses obtained with fraudulent mortgage applications, and seldom made mortgage payments.

He also allegedly conspired to have straw buyers file bankruptcy petitions to delay foreclosure of homes he was occupying.

The lenders that underwrote the mortgages include Citibank, JP Morgan Chase and Centralbanc Mortgage Corp., the indictment says.

An attorney for Holmes, Thomas F. Pitaro, did not return a call seeking comment.

Ralph McDaniels on 20 Years of Hot 97's Summer Jam and That Whole Nicki Minaj Thing

Ralph McDaniels
This Sunday, MetLife stadium will hold the 2013 incarnation of what's become hip-hop's most reliably controversial night, the Hot 97 Summer Jam. The 20th annual Summer Jam, it's seen the genre's biggest stars perform and game-changing moments happen. One man whose seen just about every Summer Jam is New York's living legend "Video Music Box" host Ralph McDaniels. We spoke to "Uncle Ralph" about what the annual concert has meant to hip-hop and what he's looking forward to this weekend.

Prior to Summer Jam's inception in 1994, do you recall New York having any major annual summer hip-hop events?
There was the Budweiser Superfest, but that wasn't really a hip-hop show. There might have been some other acts on that.

Do you recall what made those early Summer Jams different than going to other hip-hop shows at the time?
Well, I think what Summer Jam brought was that it was a hip-hop audience. It wasn't an R&B audience or Pop audience with hip-hop included. It was hip-hop first. So, it just felt like a big party, which was different from concerts before that because it was presented as a hip-hop party. We had been doing big parties, but it was never a big thing like that.

Being it started in the mid-90s at the height of the east coast-west coast feud, do you recall any of those early shows reflect the New York hip-hop anti-outsider mentality?
I'm sure it did. There are certain artists that I feel always cross that barrier. Dre always crossed it, Snoop always crossed it. Eventually, OutKast did. I don't think they ever had a problem at Summer Jam. But it was definitely an East Coast kinda thing. There were enough artists here with enough presence on the charts to fill it up.

While every radio station in a major market has their big annual summer or holiday concert, Summer Jam's always felt like the one that gets talked about nationwide. Do you recall the first Summer Jam that felt like such a monumental event?
I think 2000 was pretty big. You had Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z on the same show. You also had Ca$h Money on the bill, who were getting really popular. I think the show was bigger, it was a lot of artists.

Yeah, that show was the charts. That and 2003 with 50 Cent, Nas, Eminem, Busta Rhymes and Nelly just seem colossal.
Well 2003 was a big year because that's when we moved to Giants Stadium. Prior to that it was at Nassau Colosseum, which was a big difference. Nassau was maybe 20,000, but Giants stadium was 50,000 and you realized this was huge. I can remember it was also when they were moving away from hip-hop to just rap. It was not quite what the old timers were used to and people felt left out. But times were changing, the audience was younger and into different sounds. Maybe guys you would see backstage at the other shows in the early 90s weren't there anymore because they didn't feel they were a part of that scene. You really see a changing of the artists.

What do you think gives the show such a different vibe?
You just kind of shared the stage with whoever the headliner was, and if they had any special guests, they would pop up. I remember, one year, Alicia Keys brought out some of the guys from Wu-Tang and, I think, the Lox because they had a remix [together]. People would do remixes just so the radio would start to play them and then they would do the remix at the concert just to include them at the show, which was pretty ill.

You're responsible for the most-seen footage of one of Summer Jam's most memorable moments, in 2001 when Jay-Z brought out Michael Jackson. What do you remember about the atmosphere that night?
Probably waiting for Michael Jackson. Jay-Z was on stage, and everybody was like "Michael is coming," so it wasn't like Michael was backstage or anything. Then, Jay-Z onstage was almost like, "Is he here yet?" Just waiting for this moment to happen. Then, finally Michael Jackson got there and the whole back was cleared out like if the president was there. Michael seemed out of touch with what was going on. They had a close-up of him on the screen, and the crowd was in awe of what he looked like close-up. It was scary, but it was exciting. It was one of those moments where "was that good or bad?" For Jay-Z, it was a big moment because he brought Michael Jackson to what was his world. 

I think that moment might have the exact point when Jay-Z took off into that superstar realm.
It was like Michael Jackson would never go to Summer Jam, but he was smart enough to know the importance of hip-hop and was smart enough to do it with Jay-Z. He came and he stood next to Jay-Z, and then they brushed him off stage and Jay-Z kept performing.

And then the interview after with the Roc looking oddly stoic for guys who were just on-stage with Michael Jackson.
I went backstage and waited for Jay to come off stage and said I needed to talk to him about this moment. He said "OK, just give me a second." And I waited and waited, and then finally when I went to do the interview he said "I don't want to talk, let them talk." Dame Dash was all "Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson!" and the other guys really didn't know what was going on because Jay wasn't talking, but he only said that to me. Nobody knew what to do, and didn't know what to say because they didn't know what Jay was doing. The atmosphere was pure madness, and Jay was overwhelmed. Thank God Dame Dash was so in that moment.

Do you recall any other chaotic moments like that?
I think [in 2002] when Nas didn't perform. Everybody was kind of blown away by that. Nas went to the rival radio station because Hot 97 wouldn't let him do what he wanted to do. So, realizing the headliner wasn't performing, that was weird and the fans were pissed off.

How about the fallout of the Nicki Minaj-Peter Rosenberg incident?
I was there when he said it. We really didn't think too much of it, it didn't seem like a big deal. I found it really strange to hear "Lil Wayne was Watching a Feed." and that he said no Ca$h Money artists would be performing. I happened to be standing next to Busta, who had just signed with Ca$h Money, and I think it hurt Nicki before it hurt Hot 97. She was hot, but [it] wasn't "we're gonna die unless Nicki Minaj is on-stage." They tried to work it out for the fans, but it just didn't come together. I have a picture of the setlist with her name on it, but she never performed. I don't think it had anything to do with what Lil Wayne saw, I felt it had to do with something else.

After so many years, do you recall any performances that just stand out and define what Summer Jam is?
I think 50 Cent in 2003. That was a pretty cool show because 50 was just so hot. And then Eminem on top of it was a superstar. You could tell there was state police, FBI, CIA, everybody came out when Eminem came out. It was just crazy, and you realized the difference between other artists and him. And, at 50's show, Yayo had just come out of jail, and they were starting with him. And 50 just murdered it with so many hits, then right behind him came Em. That was a big moment and it was the 10th anniversary so a lot was put into it. Also, when Kanye brought Jay out to do 'Diamond Are Forever" in 2005, nobody knew he was going to come out. 

Ralph McDaniels can be found on Twitter at @VideoMusicBox

The Business Case for Changing the Name of the Washington Redskins

Earlier this week, 10 members of Congress sent a letter to Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder asking him to change the name of his football team because it’s a racial slur against American Indians. It’s a good argument, but apparently not compelling to Snyder, who has vowed never to budge on the team’s name. Setting aside the offense to millions of people, Snyder is missing an opportunity for profit. “I think in the worst case it would be a break-even over a three- to five-year period,” says Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates, the branding shop that helped Andersen Consulting make the switch to Accenture (ACN). “The financial excuse is not a good excuse.” Here is how a name change could be a good thing for the franchise:

1. It makes news. The reason companies usually avoid name changes is because they lose the associations consumers have with the old brand and then have to pay to build up awareness for the new one. This is not a problem for the Redskins. Washington is one of 32 teams in the most popular league in the country: Nobody is going to wonder where the franchise went. “If the Redskins decide to change their name,” says Derrick Daye, managing partner of branding consultant the Blake Project, “no matter what day of the week they did, it’s going to be the top news.” This is free media—and better than the kind the team is getting now. “It creates news,” Adamson says. “It creates interest. It will draw people in.”

2. Angry fans will still be fans. Sure, a big part of that news would be fans complaining about the betrayal of the team’s heritage and the lameness of the new name, no matter what it is. Some will swear they will never watch the team again. They’ll be bluffing. “If [the Redskins] do this, they are going to get people going ballistic on Facebook (FB), but they are not going to have an empty stadium,” Adamson says. “Memories are short when you are in a monopoly market.”

3. It’s new stuff to sell. The Redskins profited from novelty last season when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III set a jersey sales record. A new name is another way to keep fans coming back to update their jerseys, sweatshirts, and seat covers. “You want to have a point of difference to give a reason to purchase,” says Pete Canalichio, who specializes in licensing at the Blake Project. “This is a great way of doing that.” The Redskins have to share their merchandise bounty with the rest of the NFL, which limits the gain but also limits the risk. “The downside is also protected if they sell 10 fewer hats,” says Adamson.

4. And old stuff to sell. When the NBA’s Washington Bullets changed their name to the Wizards in 1997, the organization said it was because of the old name’s association with gang violence. That hasn’t stopped the team from selling throwback Bullets gear. The Redskins could do the same. As soon as the old team-branded products officially became a piece of history, there would be intense demand. “The price of the old merchandise will go way up on EBay (EBAY),” says Adamson. The team could sit it out at first, to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, and then wade in after the story dies down. “You can make the argument that it’s not really critical that [the team] stop [selling], because it’s going to be out there anyway,” Canalichio says.

5. It’s a fresh start. “The reason you change a name in the business world is to say, We’ve got a new story to tell,” Adamson says. “It’s a signal that says, Take another look at us. We’re new and improved.” The Redskins haven’t won a Super Bowl in 22 years. Signaling a new beginning might not be a bad idea. And a name change leaves plenty of room for continuity of the brand. “It can still be maroon. It can still be yellow. It might even still have a feather,” Adamson says. “You could even still maybe have a picture of a Native American if you wanted.”

Business Matters: U.S. Digital Sales Drop in Second Quarter

Digital sales continue to lose the big year-over-year gains they posted early in 2013.

Both US track and digital album sales have fallen nearly every week through May 26th, according to Billboard analysis of Nielsen SoundScan data. Exactly what is behind the declines is up for debate. 

The big gain won by digital album sales in January evaporated within two months. A 16.2% year-over-year increase in the first four weeks of the year had turned into a 10.4% decline by the first quarter. Digital album sales had a 7.9% gain in the week ending May 26th.

Tracks started strong and were in positive territory for the first five weeks. But tracks fell into a deficit in the sixth week that has grown in nearly every consecutive quarter. Track sales ended the first quarter down 1.3% and had a 2.7% deficit in the week ending May 26.

In contrast to the trend in digital sales, CD sales’ year-over-year change has improved drastically in recent months, going from a 19.5% deficit in early March to 14.0% in the week ending May 26.   

Total album sales finished the first quarter down 4.9%. That deficit got as low as 5.6% in the second quarter and stood at 5.0% in the week ending May 26. Although both current and catalog albums have lost momentum, current albums are currently 0.1% better than last year's pace. Catalog albums fell into negative territory in the third week and were down 5.0% the week ending May 26th.

The big question is why digital sales are slowly eroding. A related question is why digital sales continue to fall while CD sales have regained some of their early losses. Difference in strength of release schedules is a likely culprit, but whatever is driving down digital sales isn't affecting CD sales to the same degree.

The popular sentiment within the industry is streaming services do not negatively impact purchases. That may be true in some individual cases -- look no further than Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories -- but this SoundScan data suggests something is having a continuous, steady effect on digital sales on an aggregate level.

Burger King 'Hands-Free' Whopper Holder

Burger King Introduces 'Hands-Free' Whopper Holder

Burger King has decided to invest in yet another way to make its customers even more overweight.

This week, Burger King locations in Puerto Rico celebrated their 50th anniversary in the country by giving away free "hands-free Whopper holders." That's right, this zany contraption raises the sandwich from the table to your mouth.

With a series of commercials and ads to promote their new contribution to the obesity epidemic, the fast food chain writes:

“In a multitasking world, how can we help people use their hands to do their everyday chores and enjoy their Whopper at the same time?”

The hands-free Whopper holder could be coming to a BK near you. 

Real Reason Tupac Didn't Make 'Menace II Society'

In light of the 20 year anniversary of cult classic Menace II Society, key actors from the film have stepped forward to reflect on the precedent it set and why 2Pac wasn't a part of the movie.

A young Jada Pinkett-Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Clifton Powell, Charles S. Dutton, Bill Duke and MC Eiht rounded out the cast. Tupac Shakur was also cast for the 1993 classic, but a well-documented fight between the fiery rapper/actor and Allen Hughes put the brakes on that. "We at a table reading, and Tupac's just annoyed. We're trying to read and he's just annoyed," Turner recalled to "RapFix Live" when he and Larenz Tate appeared to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the film. (MTV)
Shakur reportedly wanted to play a key role in the 1993 drama.
Originally 'Pac was picked to play Sharif, a college-bound good kid trapped in the confines of a violence-plagued South Central Los Angeles. Shakur craved a bigger, meatier role, but he and the film's directors didn't see eye to eye. "The director and him had words and Tupac was no longer a part of it," Turner continued. (MTV)
Prior to his passing in 1996, Pac spoke on his issues with Hughes.
"The Hughes Brothers did all my videos. After I did Juice, they said 'Can we use your name to get this movie deal? I said 'Hell, yeah.' When I got with John Singleton, he told me he wanted to be 'Scorsese to your DeNiro.' For starring roles I just want you to work with me. So I told the Hughes brothers, I only wanted a little role. But I didn't tell them I wanted a sucker role. We was arguing about that in rehearsal. They said to me, 'ever since you got with John Singleton's sh*t, you changed.' They was trippin' cuz they got this thing with John Singleton. They feel like they competing with him." (VIBE)
Training Day and Brooklyn's Finest director Antoine Fuqua previously hit up SOHH and spoke on his favorite urban films like Menace II Society.
"There's a few of them out there man that I feel were good, especially the impact they had when they first came out. I think John Singleton's Boyz N The Hood was a good movie, a good solid movie, you know, that dealt with that. Menace II Society was really good, that had a good feel as far as the texture. New Jack [City], I liked New Jack, that was just a more colorful version, you know what I mean? It was a little more of a hyper-reality version [of urban films]. So yeah, man, all those movies I liked." (SOHH Guest Star)

Papa John’s CEO Apologizes For Racist Remarks

A Sanfod, Fla. Papa John’s delivery man was  fired after he accidentally called a customer and left a voicemail message that was full of racist remarks.

Papa John’s CEO Apologizes For Racist Remarks

The delivery man was upset that he got a $5 tip. However, the customer claims it equaled 21% of the bill (receipt shown above). Said delivery man accidentally dialed the customer and the phone recorded the following comments:

“I guess that’s the only requirement for being a ni**er in Sanford…Yeah, they give me five bucks there — fine outstanding African-American gentleman of the community,” he added. 

The Papa John’s employee also used the n-word repeatedly, even singing it to the tune of “Figaro’s Aria.”

Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter, released the following statement via Facebook:

Friends, I am extremely concerned to learn about the reprehensible language used by two former employees in one of our restaurants. Their thinking and actions defy both my personal and the company’s values, and everything for which this company stands. The employees responsible for this absolutely unacceptable behavior were immediately terminated.

My heartfelt apology goes out to the customer involved, his family, and our community at large. I am very sorry that anyone would be exposed to these hurtful and painful words by any person involved in any way with our company.

Thank you for your important comments. I have personally reached out to our customer to share my own thoughts and offer my deepest apology.


John Schnatter
Chairman and CEO

Nicki Minaj Confirms 'American Idol' Departure

Rapper Nicki Minaj followed Mariah Carey's lead on Thursday afternoon, announcing via Twitter, "Thank you American Idol for a life changing experience! Wouldn't trade it for the world! Time to focus on the Music!!! Mmmuuuaahhh!!!"

Randy Jackson had previously announced his exit from the show, leaving only Keith Urban who has yet to confirm whether he'll be participating in season 13 of the Fox show.

The series just wrapped its 12th year on May 16, but by season's end, there didn't seem to be much left to celebrate. The season closer, during which Candice Glover and Kree Harrison faced off for the crown (Glover won), was down more than 40 percent in viewers from the previous year and was the show's lowest rated finale ever.

Speaking on the night of the finale, a high-ranking Idol source told The Hollywood Reporter that Minaj was viewed as "bad for the brand," explaining that, while the controversial star was meant to lure in younger viewers, she ended up turning off many of Idol's core fans, who now average 51.2 years of age.

A little over a week later, Fox president of alternative programming Mike Darnell announced that he was leaving the company.

In confirming Minaj's exit, production partners Fox, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment stated: "Nicki Minaj is a superstar who brought a level of honesty and passion to American Idol and who had a tremendous positive impact on so many contestants this season. Given her extremely busy career, we understand and respect her decision and wish her the best.”

Minaj recently told New York radio station Hot 97 that she plans on returning to her rap and hip-hop roots for her next album.

Twitter: @Idol_Worship

Royce Da 5'9 Admits Slaughterhouse Had To Make A Sacrifice

Slaughterhouse's Royce Da 5'9 and his brethren cover the newest issue of Murder Dog and speak on their plans of dropping a long-awaited third group effort.

"I think we all realized that we'd have to put the competition to the side in order to get the record done. Obviously we all wanted to have the best verse, but we came to terms that it's impossible for one person in the group to come first every single time. We are all focused on making sure we bring our A game to the table every time. And it helps." (Murder Dog)
Earlier this month, Royce along with members Joell Ortiz and Crooked I spoke on their third collective project.
During our exclusive interview with the Voltron crew, Royce Da 5'9 revealed that the group has already begun work on their third studio album, their second project under the Shady/Interscope banner. Joell Ortiz and Crooked I also chimed in, revealing their the group has put its individual solo projects on hold until the next Slaughterhouse. "We're getting started with the recording process like, yesterday," Royce Da 5'9 revealed. "We're getting on that album. We've got some pretty big announcements to be excited about. We're trying to work that out right now, so that's pretty much where we are at the present time." Joell Ortiz added, "We're just focusing on the Slaughterhouse right now." (XXL Mag)
In April, the fourth member, Joe Budden, revealed his plans to hook up with his boys for the next group project.
It can't be easy balancing a solo career and a role in a high-powered rap group, but Joe Budden embraces it all. In February, the Jersey City MC dropped his No Love Lost solo LP, and now he's ready to reconnect with Crooked I, Joell Ortiz and Royce da 5'9" to record their third Slaughterhouse LP. "We're locking in this month. It's time," Budden said when he appeared on "RapFix Live" on Wednesday. Budden has been balancing rap with his role on the VH1 reality series "Love & Hip Hop: New York" and says that these days he feels like a brand-new artist despite dropping his first LP back in 2003. "I feel like a new artist, I'm that passionate about the craft and the culture," he said. (MTV)
Back in February, Joey hinted at some Slaughterhouse goodness stirring up.
"Slaughterhouse is coming in the next six months," Joe said in an interview before going into an in-studio performance. "Yeah, that was an exclusive. That kinda was an exclusive. Well, not that we coming in six months, but another concert series from us, that wouldn't be so unexpected in the next six months. No Love Lost, in stores." (Sway's Universe)

Amanda and Lindsay: "My Heart Goes Out to Them...

Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan: "My Heart Goes Out to Them," Former Child Star Rick Schroder Says

Amanda Bynes, Ricky Schroder, Lindsay LohanSteven Hirsch/ Splash News; Charles Sykes/Bravo; Reed Saxon - Pool/Getty Images

Rick Schroder is the latest former child star to speak out in the wake of all the troubles surrounding both Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes.

"My heart goes out to them because they're in a place that's not good and there's a lot of people around them that don't care about them and want to capitalize on it," the 43-year-old actor told ABC News Now. "I feel bad for them."

Schroder, who rose to fame as a kid thanks to the 1979 movie The Champ and the popular '80s TV series Silver Spoons, added: "I just wish that some people would intervene on their behalf."

Schroder's comments come just days after another former child star, Mrs. Doubtfire's Mara Wilson, penned an essay for called "7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider's Perspective)."

In it, Wilson discussed how life in the spotlight can provide all sorts of pitfalls for impressionable youngsters, especially when they're not guided by responsible and conscientious adults.

Miguel May Face Lawsuit From Billboard Awards Fall

Miguel’s Billboard Music Awards Jump Victim Is Considering Legal Action

Miguel, whose overzealous jumping accidentally caused the deaths of 10,000 attendees at the Billboard Music Awards several weeks ago (well, no, not exactly, he mostly just accidentally landed on some poor girl’s neck and then she seemed pretty much fine afterward), may end up paying a hefty price for the incident: Khyati Shah is reportedly “considering” legal action, with her attorney telling E! News that pending medical results, they’ll be making a decision about whether to file a lawsuit against Miguel.

Her lawyer also said that she’s experienced “difficulties” following in the incident, and that her initial response — which was all smiles when interviewed on the red carpet with Miguel after it happened — was due to being in “shock and star struck.” 

Here are some reasons she should sue him:

1. He really messed up.
2. He’s rich.

Here are some reasons she should not sue him:
1. Miguel is the best!

Let’s hope that the powers of good win out in this one.

The last thing Miguel wants is a lawsuit. But he may just have one.

Khyati Shah—the audience member who was accidentally landed on by the singer during his performance at the Billboard Music Awards a few weeks back—is now "considering" legal action.

Shah's attorney, Vip Bhola, tells E! News exclusively that a decision will be made soon on whether to file a lawsuit against Miguel pending Khyati's most recent medical results. He noted that the fan has been experiencing "difficulties" as a result of the incident.

Miguel, Billboard Music Awards
"We will determine that after we have feedback from medical providers," Bhola told E! News, declining to give a timeline on when any civil action might be filed.

The attorney also added that he has not spoken to the performer's legal representatives, but did leave open the possibility of a settlement.

Shortly after he crash-landed on top of her during a poorly timed jump across the stage, Khyati was all smiles in an interview alongside the crooner while holding an ice pack on her elbow.

In the same interview, Miguel called her his "new friend," and lamented they met under "not the best circumstances" but promised he'd make it up to her.

He later tweeted, "got caught up in the moment, thank goodness Khyati is okay," only to delete the post the next day.

Bhola added that Khyati was in "shock and star struck" after the awards ceremony when she was interviewed, but that her medical condition has since worsened in the days after.