- Created on 22 October 2013
In this July 26, 2013, file photo, Sean "Diddy" Combs of Revolt TV waits to take the stage for a news conference about the new channel during the Television Critics Association summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif. Already a success in music and fashion, Combs has big dreams for television, too, wanting to build a network that will be seen as the ESPN of music. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Sean Combs' new Revolt channel launched with a nod to big dreams and its founder's musical past, bringing a new outlet for music to television.
Despite some technical glitches in its opening Monday, Combs aspires to nothing less than making Revolt the ESPN of music, with well-curated playlists and a strong focus on industry news.
"I want to know, who is Taylor Swift?" Combs said. "Why is Miley Cyrus twerking? Why did Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake go on tour? Why did Kanye West call his daughter 'North'? The industry of music is just as important, or more important, as the industry of sports. Sports are covered in a serious manner and we want to follow in those footsteps."
Most fans watch videos online or on demand these days, despite the existence of MTV's networks, Fuse and BET. The struggling music industry doesn't spend as much producing flashy videos as it did in MTV's heyday. Networks that have started out primarily with videos moved on, primarily because the format is unattractive to advertisers.
"We're just going to do it better," said Val Boreland, Revolt's chief programming executive. Combs said he wants a network where people program from the gut instead of sales charts, citing legendary DJ Frankie Crocker and "Soul Train." His executive team is heavy on industry experience, with former ESPN executive and Vibe magazine president Keith Clinkscales, former Warner Bros. and MTV executive Andy Schuon and Boreland, who worked at Comedy Central.
Boreland said Revolt will stay in contact with viewers through social media and said Fuse, for example, does not have a strong connection with fans. A Fuse spokeswoman declined to make an executive available to talk about Revolt, or the difficulties of beginning a new network.
At its start, Revolt is available only on Time Warner and some Comcast cable outlets. The channel's website is live streaming the first three days. Combs is encouraging fans to contact cable and satellite operators to urge them to begin airing Revolt.
Monday night's online launch was marred by technical problems that operators blamed on demand. The picture repeatedly froze as Combs talked from the front steps of a Brooklyn home where the late Notorious B.I.G. grew up. The opening video was Biggie's 1994 song "Juicy," a song Combs produced in his Puff Daddy days, where the artist looked back on an improbable journey that began with big ambitions.
From there, Combs and former MTV VJ LaLa Anthony played tracks from the French DJ and producer Gesaffelstein, the California hip-hop duo Audio Push and the British electronic music duo Disclosure.
Revolt will air videos almost exclusively with a few news reports sprinkled in until January, when a new studio in Los Angeles opens for artist interviews and concerts.
Combs was compelled to release a video a few weeks ago making clear that Revolt will cover all forms of music. One of its two announced shows will focus exclusively on rock.
"People have made an assumption, because I'm a hip-hop artist and I'm African-American, that I'm going to try to make a second version of BET," Combs said, "which I'm not."
He said he's wanted to start a music channel for several years, and looked into acquiring a struggling network and changing its format. His dreams meshed with Comcast, which was seeking networks with minority ownership.
At a party a few weeks ago, Combs ran into Oprah Winfrey and asked if she recognized his look of a stressed-out entrepreneur. Winfrey, whose own network got off to a rocky start, advised him to stay tough.
"It's the hardest thing I've ever done," Combs said, "and it's the most exciting thing I've done in a long time."
- Created on 21 October 2013
(Photo by Dan Harr/Invision/AP Images, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Cee Lo Green has pleaded not guilty to giving a woman ecstasy during a 2012 dinner in Los Angeles.
The singer appeared in court on Monday and entered the plea through his attorney Blair Berk.
The hearing occurred hours after the singer was charged with one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance. He could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Berk said the singer, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, was pleased prosecutors declined to pursue a rape charge against him.
She declined comment on the drug-related charge.
Green's bail was set at $30,000 and his case is due back in court on Nov. 20.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Cee Lo Green was charged on Monday with giving a woman ecstasy at a Los Angeles restaurant, but prosecutors declined to file a rape count against the singer because of insufficient evidence.
Green, 38, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, was expected to arraigned later in the day on one felony count of furnishing a controlled substance. He could face four years in prison if convicted.
Green was pleased that the rape charge was rejected and will address the ecstasy charge in court, his attorney Blair Berk wrote in a statement.
She said any sexual contact between Green and the woman was consensual.
"Mr. Green encouraged a full and complete investigation of those claims and he was confident once conducted he would be cleared of having any wrongful intent," Berk wrote. She declined further comment.
Prosecutors claim Green gave the woman ecstasy in July 2012.
Callaway is the Grammy-winning singer of the hit "Forget You" and performed as part of the duo Gnarls Barkley. He appears as a judge on NBC's "The Voice" competition show. The network declined comment on the charge.
- Created on 21 October 2013
ATLANTA -- ATLANTA (AP) — For Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, there were several uncomfortable moments watching actresses portray them in a new TLC biopic.
But it was especially strange to watch Lil Mama, who played the role of the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes — the third member of the Grammy-winning R&B group who died in a car crash in Honduras in 2002.
"She totally came into character," Chilli said of Lil Mama, who wore contacts to mimic Left Eye's distinctively large, dark pupils. "It was kind of scary. The resemblance was just crazy at times. Naturally, she kind of had some of the similar characteristics like Lisa. It was kind of eerie at times for us."
Alongside Lil Mama, Keke Palmer stars as Chilli and Drew Sidora as T-Boz in the film, "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story," which premieres Monday on VH1. The two-hour movie chronicles the trio's rise to fame, their drama-filled love lives — famously including Left Eye burning down the house of lover and former NFL player Andre Rison — group spats and financial struggles, despite two multiplatinum albums.
"You never know how you look to someone else until you see for yourself," T-Boz said. "It was weird. It was very weird seeing my haircut on Drew. ... To see them do our dance moves really took us back."
This is VH1's first biopic in nearly 10 years since Michael Jackson's "Man In the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story" in 2004.
"When we looked at all the artists that would resonate with our audience, TLC was like on top of the list," said Jill Holmes, the network's senior vice president of West Coast production and development. A "Behind the Music" on the group and "The Last Days of Left Eye" were both highly rated. "Our audience came of age listening to TLC and our young viewers grew up listening to their songs. So it seemed like a perfect fit."
TLC debuted more than 20 years ago and became one of the best-selling female groups of all time. They addressed serious topics such as the dangers of AIDS in "Waterfalls" and the unrealistic expectations of beauty in "Unpretty" and had No. 1 smashes with "No Scrubs" and "Creep," and their 1994 album, "CrazySexyCool" is diamond-certified.
"They really put their whole lives out there," Palmer said. "They did it fearlessly. I think it'll be amazing to see how genuine their music was and how close it was to what they were going through."
Chilli and T-Boz, who were executive producers of the film, were hands-on with its development. They had several sleepovers with the leading actresses, and spent extra time coaching Lil Mama due to the absence of Left Eye.
Initially, Lil Mama said it was tough prepping to play Left Eye — the energetic and most outspoken member of the group. But with the support of T-Boz and Chilli, she was able to grasp her character.
"I looked at different interviews of Lisa, watching the way she speaks and her delivery," said Lil Mama, who joined Chilli and T-Boz onstage, rapping Left Eye's verse on "No Scrubs" at a concert this year. "With her not being there, I leaned on Tionne and Chilli for help."
The first time Sidora and T-Boz spoke on the phone, their conversation lasted for nearly five hours, with T-Boz opening up about her past and struggle with chronic sickle cell anemia. Sidora said she already had an understanding — for the past eight years, she has been a spokeswoman for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois.
Sidora trimmed down a couple of sizes for the role after trying on T-Boz's original outfit from the "Scrubs" video for the first time. For four weeks, a trainer helped her work out three times a day and made sure she ate healthy meals.
"It was a very physically challenging role," Sidora said. "Mentally, I understood her struggle. My challenge was to not only portray T-Boz, but to also introduce Tionne Watkins — the individual, the woman, the person."
Chilli hopes their movie can show how resilient TLC has been despite all the ups and downs. The two surviving members continue to move forward as a group, releasing their greatest hits album, "20" last week.
"We're fighters. Even when we wanted to give up, we didn't," she said. "We want people to see how resilient TLC really is till this day."
- Created on 21 October 2013
(AP Photo / Matt Sayles, File)
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Overseers of Abu Dhabi's Grand Mosque say they asked pop star Rihanna to leave the compound after she posed for photographs considered to be at odds with the "sanctity" of the site.
Rihanna hasn't publicly responded to the actions by staff at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Her show took place on Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Photos posted on various websites show the singer posing on white marble, dressed fully in black, with her hair covered according to the mosque's guidelines.
The mosque statement, published Monday in local newspapers, said Rihanna was in an area normally off limits for visitors. It says the fashion-style photo session violated rules on the "status and sanctity of the mosque."
The mosque is a major tourist site in the United Arab Emirates' capital.