FX’s ‘Atlanta’ season 2 debut recap: Katt Williams is in the house!

ATLANTA — “Alligator Man” — Season Two, Episode 1 (Airs Wednesday, March 1, 10:00 p.m. e/p) Pictured: Lakeith Stanfield as Darius, Donald Glover as Earnest Marks. CR: Guy D’Alema/FX

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

After an auteur-led show is praised to the hilt like FX’s “Atlanta,” it’s easy to see how this would weigh on said auteur. In this case, Donald Glover told journalists at a red carpet event earlier this week at the Starlight Drive In how “vulnerable” he felt after the show’s success.

But the good news: “Atlanta” remains as quirky cool as ever, even if there’s a slightly darker tinge to it.

The thematic of the show’s sophomore year “Robbin’ Season” is brought out within the first five minutes.

A couple of dudes we have never seen before and probably won’t ever see again are seen messing around in their apartment, then ordering food at a local fast-food joint. Without warning, they start shooting and robbing the place through the drive-through. The manager grabs a semi-automatic and the restaurant becomes the OK Corral. Somehow, the robber manages to get into his car unscathed as the manager continues to shoot away. Then the car brakes suddenly before it leaves the premises. The manager stops shooting. The perpetrators push a woman out of the backseat. She’d been shot in the hand and she wails in pain as they drive away.

Darius notes later as he and Earn watch cops deal with another robbery: “Robbin’ season. Christmas approaches, everybody gotta eat.” He says this without judgment.

Earn is his usual mopey self, homeless, on probation, broke. Alfred has a lady friend but is under house arrest for some unspecified reason. Darius plays chauffeur for Earn.

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Darius, apropos of nothing, explains a theory why so many strange stories emanate out of Florida. It’s  one single dude, named Florida Man.

“Think of him as an alt-right Johnny Appleseed,” he said.

The Glovers spend a comical amount of money for what amounts to momentary scenes illustrating whatever “headline” Darius says e.g. “Florida Man Shoots Unarmed Black Teenager,” “Florida Man Steals Car, Goes to Checkers,” “Florida Man Beats Up Flamingos.” Darius’ explanation: Florida Man is a way to discourage black folks from moving to Florida and registering to vote.

Then Katt Williams pops up as “Alligator Man.” Yes, the crazy comic plays Earn’s Uncle Willie, who happens to own an alligator. Why? It’s not explained because this is “Atlanta,” not a documentary.

Earn comes over with Darius as a favor to Alfred, who heard that Willie’s girlfriend Yvonne had been kidnapped. In reality, Willie just thinks Yvonne swiped $50. Earn hands over $100 to help them resolve the conflict and prevent cops from… oh, wait. The cops arrive and Willie becomes petulant and difficult, refusing to leave the house, in an echo of multiple arrests Katt himself has had in recent years in Georgia over various violent assaults.

“I don’t have to do s*** cos I haven’t done s***,” he says to the cops, who threaten to shoot his alligator. “Kiss my black a**.”

Earn is worried about a potential shoot out and getting arrested again. Naturally, Willie says, “There ain’t going to be no shoot out. I’m not Florida Man!” (Darius is right! He exists!)

Willie and Earn then argue over who is in worse shape. Willie lives in a house Alfred owns. He is smart but let things happen to him, as Earn said. Earn’s crappy situation? We’ve already accounted for that. “I am scared about Al leaving me,” Earn admits. “He doesn’t need me like that. He’s kind of a big deal.”

Willie provides Earn a gun and some advice as a gift. “You’re going to need this in the music business,” he said, of the gun. His advice? “If you don’t want to end up like me, get rid of that chip-on-your-shoulder s***. It’s not worth the time.”

In the end, Willie refuses to give himself up to the cops. Instead, he lets his alligator out. While they stare at the reptile, he escapes through the back and runs.

Best Darius line

“I would say nice to meet you. But I don’t believe in time as a concept so I’ll just say we always met.” – Darius to Willie

Philosophical question of the day

“What flavor is a Flaming Hot Cheeto?” Earn asks.

New character

Tracey is Alfred’s friend, fresh out of jail. He makes a cameo appearance in this episode but will be more central in episode two. He’ll be recurring this season.

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Why Jermaine Dupri chose Street Bud to win ‘The Rap Game’ season 4: ‘He has the mentality to be a star.’

Posted Thursday, March 1, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jermaine Dupri started his rap career when he was 12. So he is suitably excited about the prospects of Atlanta’s own Street Bud, who was 12 when he won the fourth season of “The Rap Game,” which aired last Friday.

“My goal is to keep the show current and stay on top of what’s happening,” said Dupri, a legendary producer and rap star in his own right who has turned the Lifetime reality competition program into a hit. “Street Bud is an artist that represents what the rap industry looks like and feels like today especially coming from Atlanta. I’ve heard a lot of people say if you’re going to put out music, Street Bud is the right person to do it.”

He’s the youngest winner so far after four seasons. “The really young kids watching the show are really excited,” he said. “I feel like that’s what’s going to keep the show alive. The young kids keep the show relevant.” (Season five begins production later this month.)

When all four of the other rivals picked Street Bud as the person they think will win if they didn’t during the penultimate episode, that left an impression on Dupri. (It’s a question I asked during the mock press conference but I was edited out and the producers ultimately had rapper Teyana Taylor ask the question later.)

“I felt really bad for all of them,” Dupri said. “I felt like they conceded at that moment. I still wasn’t 100 percent sold on Street Bud at that moment. But it was a big turning point.”

The most popular person other than Street Bud, based on social media and a poll I posted on my recap of the finale was Lil Bri. But he felt like Street Bud’s final performance at Buckhead Theatre was the best, solidifying his choice.

He liked not only Street Bud’s rapping but also his look and the fact he was already trying to be an artist.

Dupri, given the rules of the show, was unable to work with Street Bud until now. He said he’s watched him improve even since the end of taping several months ago.

Street Bud “is definitely better. I’ve heard him on the radio rapping on Streetz 94.5. His attitude is already different. He has the mentality to be a star… I feel like he will be the most popular winner of the show so far.”

Dupri plans to release both a single Street Bud did during the show with producer Zaytoven and the one he performed during the finale.

In 2018, managing artists has gotten tougher with so much social media enabling artists to pump out new music on their own. Dupri admits his label “mismanaged” season 1 winner Miss Mulatto and season 3 winner Nova because in this day and age, it’s harder to focus and build a brand in a methodical way.

“Once they get all this attention on the show,” he said, “they go into a huddle with their own teams. They start creating this whole stir putting out music every week or every other day. It just becomes a situation.”

Dupri – who broke artists such as Bow Wow and Kris Kross back in the day – hopes he can work with Street Bud in a more calculated, smarter fashion: “We’ve got to find a happy medium here to hit the market.”

He is also a big fan of Street Bud’s “mom-ager” Cori, who came off on the show as focused, creative, kindhearted and business oriented. She didn’t let being Street Bud’s mother cloud her judgment. When her son made mistakes, she told him so. When he was unfocused, she re-focused him.

“She is very observant of her artist,” Dupri said. “She told him things I was already going to say to him.”

Dupri said if she weren’t Street Bud’s manager, he’d hire her for SoSo Def Records.

As for the other four artists, here are his hot takes:

No. 2 RapUnzel: “She was pretty close to me as far as actually winning. She seems very seasoned and has a complete total package. I just feel like she fell short in the performance area. And the kids didn’t really connect with her at the radio station.”

No. 3 Lil Bri: “I feel like she could be a bonafide star. She needs to be more confident, to know she is has good as she is. She’s a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile.” He felt like she was a wee bit too serious given her young age, that she needed to send out a happier vibe.

No. 4 Jordan: He was really rough in the early going but progressed a lot over the span of 13 episodes. But to Dupri, it wasn’t enough to take the crown.

No. 5 Ricci Bitti: At first, he said her lack of focus and confidence hindered her but the young kids did like her. By the time they did the orchestra challenge closer to the end of the season, he saw her blossom. He was also encouraged by the girl group and video challenges. But like Jordan, it wasn’t enough to lift her out of the bottom.

He is thrilled that “The Rap Game” continues to highlight Atlanta as the epicenter of hip hop. “Kids are so much into hip hop,” he said. “I’m proud of doing this in the city I come from. People continue to look at Atlanta as home for a new generation of hip-hop stars.”

Dupri’s final observation: “Although I love all the kids from this show. They all have talent. But I have yet to see anyone who was as seasoned as Bow Wow was when I found him at age 12.”

 

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Rev. Billy Graham’s casket was built by prisoners

The nation is bidding a very public and formal farewell to the Rev. Billy Graham, whose remains are lying in honor at the U.S. Capitol.

myAJC: The prayers Billy Graham had for Atlanta

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence, Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito Jr. and a slew of Congressional leaders were among the dignitaries paying respects during a ceremony this week, and a military honor guard is in place.

But the casket on display, like Graham himself, has very humble origins. It was built by prisoners.

As reported by AJC writer Shelia Poole, Graham’s casket and the one in which Ruth Graham was buried after her death in 2007 were designed and built by inmates at the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary. In 2005, while touring the prison, Graham’s son, Rev. Franklin Graham, saw inmates building caskets for other inmates who could not afford to buy one. He was so moved he asked that they make caskets for his parents.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

MORE COVERAGE:

How Billy Graham fought for Civil Rights

Billy Graham’s crusades reached millions

Marietta man spent 50 years working with Billy Graham

Billy Graham died last week at 99. His 12 grandsons will serve as pallbearers at his funeral on Friday. After the private service Graham’s remains will be interred next to his wife’s grave site in his native Charlotte, N.C. at the foot of the cross-shaped brick walkway in the Prayer Garden, on the northeast side of the Billy Graham Library.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

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The Impacts of Zero-Day Attacks

The Impacts of Zero-Day Attacks

Last week, we explained what zero-day vulnerabilities and attacks are. Essentially, zero-day vulnerabilities exist in the wild, with no patch available to prevent hackers from exploiting it. Today, we would like to expand on the impacts of these attacks.

What Do Zero-Day Attacks Depend On?

The impact a zero-day attack can have on your online presence can vary. Some of these effects include lost revenue, compliance violations, wasted time, and damage to your brand reputation.

Continue reading The Impacts of Zero-Day Attacks at Sucuri Blog.

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PHOTOS: Bert’s Big Adventure kickoff party 2018

Kristin Klingshirn waves to the Endeavor Air cast and the various Disney characters. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

For the 16th year, Bert Weiss of Q100 and his Bert’s Big Adventure charity sent 13 children with chronic and terminal illnesses to Walt Disney World along with their families on a charter flight to Orlando.

I attend the kickoff party every year, first at The Renaissance Concourse Airport Hotel, then at the hangar where the flight takes off. He gives each of the kids surprise gifts. This year, Bert bestowed various kids a donated customized treehouse, a VIP experience at an Atlanta United game and a special trip to Raleigh, N.C. for Monster Jam.

You can donate here. 

This is the first year the organization is without Stacey Weiss, Bert’s ex wife. They divorced in 2015. Stacey was an integral part of the organization but chose to step down last year to pursue a real estate career full time.

It’s an impressive operation that requires a lot of donated cash and services including Endeavor Air providing a free flight. There are also programs throughout the year for the kids and a Fairy Godmother program to visit kids in hospitals. Its most recent publicly available 990 form from 2015 shows revenues of $763,521.

And with Brian Moote having just left the Bert Show for a gig in Los Angeles, that opened up a slot for social media guru Davi Crimmins to go on the trip for the first time.

Davi Crimmins, social media director for the Bert Show, gets to go on Bert’s Big Adventure in Disney for the first time. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Link Hargrove would love to take over Brian Moote’s job. He’s already hijacked Kristin Klingshirn’s mic. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Link Hargrove with his dad Gordon before the trip begins. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Alanna Milner (left) plays a “Descendants” character with “Pocahantos” Laura Alice Lopez. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Luis Escobar and his family are greeted at the hangar before leaving for Orlando. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Max, the therapy dog, greets Mateo Escobar, whose brother Luis Escobar is one of Bert’s Big Adventure kids who has a germ cell brain tumor. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Balloon artist Avan Kroy with Bert’s Big Adventure participant Zy Fagin, who has had a brain aneurysm. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Zy Fagin goofs around with Bert Weiss. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Khairi Brown, who has leukemia, is greeted at the hangar by “Star Wars” characters. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Yuli with Spiderman. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Not sure who’s child this was but he was adorable. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Bert Weiss on the red carpet leading up to the plane. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Bert Show members Kristin Klingshirn and Cassie Young. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Nikki Williams (right) has been playing TinkerBell for years at the kickoff event. She appreciated the relative warm weather this year. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Davi moments before leaving for Disney. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Cassie Young with Bert Weiss. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

My artsy shot of Tommy Owen videotaping the proceedings before entering the plane. CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

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Atlanta trio Mannish charms ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ crowd

DJ, Vinny and Lil G make up Mannish, a new Atlanta rap trio who performed on “Showtime at the Apollo” March 1, 2018. They visited the AJC on Friday, February 23, 2018. CREDIT: RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com

Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

If you think the rappers on Jermaine Dupri’s “The Rap Game” are too old, then you might get a kick out of Atlanta rap trio Mannish – two six years old and an eight year old.

They are adorable and create their own lines. And they brought down the house during this Thursday’s season debut of “Showtime at the Apollo” hosted by Steve Harvey on Fox.

Harvey liked them so much, he also flew them out for his talk show in Los Angeles, airing locally on Fox 5 at 3 p.m. Thursday. And they’ll be on “Good Day Atlanta” live on Fox 5 as well that morning.

On “Showtime,” they sing a song with the catchy chorus “I need a girlfriend, so tell me where you at?” This video below has already been seen on Facebook 4.9 million times.

“The show was really fun,” said Lil G, the oldest at age 8, visiting the AJC last Friday. “It was fun to meet Steve Harvey.”

“He was really funny,” added DJ, Lil G’s nephew who lives with them. (The third member is six-year-old Vinny.)

Lil G, who said they rehearse one to two hours a day in the playroom, watches over the two younger members: “I make sure they’re straight, make sure they do right.”

The trio has been performing publicly for about a year, including “Atlanta’s Got Talent” and the famous Cascade skating rink.

Tamara, their mom, said she knew they could see how talented her kids were “but I didn’t know it would be this early.”

“It’s our time to do our thing.” Lil G said.

They watched videos and on their own began making up songs, their father Greg Vinson said. They also have musical genes. Greg said a lot of his relatives have performed professionally including an uncle who worked with Curtis Mayfield’s band.

The trio’s name came from a producer who described them as “man-nish.” And a friend hooked them up for the gig at the historic Showtime where the audience will frequently boo acts off the stage.

Mannish got no boos.

“We could do a lot of stuff,” Lil G said. “And we have the style to do it.”

TV PREVIEW
“Showtime at the Apollo,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Fox

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‘American Idol’ notes: Casey Abrams interview, Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery

Posted Wednesday, February 28, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk

Remember Casey Abrams? He was the burly, jazzy, bass-playing bearded dude from season 10 who looked a bit like a lumberjack and had an amusing sense of humor. He and Haley Reinhart made an amusing on-stage combo. Here’s a reminder in case your memory is fuzzy:

Seven years later, Abrams is going on tour to promote his first album “Put a Spell On You” (out March 16) in several years, a 20-city tour that includes Eddie’s Attic April 3. (Get tickets here for $15-$20.) And he admits he looks less like a lumberjack today and more like Jesus or a hippie with his flowing locks and now supersized beard.

“It’s longer than ever,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “I believe it’s the Navajos and a whole bunch of tribes who grow their hair long. They’re feelers. It’s like having a million tiny antennas on top of your head. And it feels the energy of people around you. It gives you an extra sense.”

He said he recorded his jazz-rock album in an abandoned church in Brooklyn which generated a very special reverb. He released a single “Let’s Make Out” on Valentine’s Day. “It’s the core of what we want to do,” he said. “We don’t want any bull****. We want to make out!”

In a less sexual sense, Abrams is a hugger. “I consider myself an expert hugger,” he said. “Anybody who wants to huge me, no matter what religion or restrictions, I’ll hug them.”

And yes, he is sometimes mistaken for Zach Galifianakis, though the resemblance is probably more about the hair than his face:

Now seven years removed from “Idol,” he said he is not regularly recognized in Los Angeles. “I don’t consider myself a celebrity they see a lot of on TV,” he said. “I’m just that guy on ‘Idol.’ That guy. I’m sometimes recognized for ‘Idol’ and Postmodern Jukebox or this band Scary Pockets I’ve been singing with.”

Abrams indeed has spent a lot of time with musical collective Postmodern Jukebox, which rotates lead singers and features a tap dancer. He missed the 2016 “Idol” Fox series finale because he was in Europe touring the group. (Postmodern has also featured Reinhart, Blake Lewis, Joey Cook, Melinda Doolittle and other “Idol” alums.)

He is very much a lover, not a fighter. His biggest pest peeve: folks who chew really loudly. So you’re put on notice.

Fans will often offer him a doobie, he said. It’s clearly his chill presence. “I don’t request it,” he said. “They see the beard. They assume.” He won’t say no.

He shares the same manager as David Archuleta, runner up from season 8, who is performing March 12 at City Winery in Atlanta. I was trying to line up interviews with both at the same time and got confused. I ended up calling Casey thinking it was going to be David (who I will talk to Thursday.)

The two couldn’t be more different in terms of religion and look. But given their common manager, they got together three years ago and wrote a song that was never released. “That’s a man I like,” Casey said. “Really passionate.” It was never released but he recalls the lyrics had to do with the earth being on tilt. “We are different but we have the earth in common,” he said.

***

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 21: Singer Haley Reinhart attends Fox’s “American Idol” XIII Finale at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on May 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Speaking of Haley Reinhart, she was found guilty of hitting a bouncer in Chicago last year. She was fined $500 and put on probation for two years.

According to the Tribune, Judge James Karahalios called Reinhart’s testimony “evasive, argumentative and sometimes implausible” as he found her guilty of violating a local ordinance prohibiting battery.

***

THE VOICE — “Blind Auditions” — Pictured: Kelly Clarkson — (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

Kelly Clarkson, as expected, is charming and effervescent on “The Voice” so far this week as season 14 launched. Would we have expected anything less?

“The Voice” assiduously avoids any direct reference to her time on “American Idol” but it’s not as if viewers didn’t already know where she came from.

Over the first two episodes, she snagged more artists than any of the other judges: five. Five times she faced off only against Blake Shelton and convinced three of the singers to join her team. She rewarded each Team Kelly member with a special shirt with “14” on it to signify the 14th season.

Overnight ratings for the first episode were higher than the debut of season 13 in the fall: 12.3 million vs. 10.6 million. But it’s down from 13 million a year ago.

Here is the audition for the first person who selected Kelly as her coach:

On Jimmy Fallon, Clarkson sang a “Google Translate” version of her song “Stronger” and it’s hysterical. They also duet “I Got You Babe,” translated as “I Have Your Child.”

She also spoke with Fallon where she discusses Steve Carell and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” how much fun she’s having on “The Voice” and how she had no idea at first she was going to end up on TV auditioning on “American Idol.”

***

Scotty McCreery has landed his first No. 1 song on the country chart with “Five More Minutes,” according to Mediabase 24/7.

It took 30 weeks to get to the top spot which isn’t all that unusual on the country chart.

His new album “Seasons Change” comes out March 16.

He’s had several top 20 hits prior to this but this is by far his biggest single yet.

Season 10 runner up Lauren Alaina‘s “Doin’ Fine” is at No. 34 and has been floating in the lower regions of the charts for 27 weeks now.

Radio Disney – taking advantage of the ABC synergy – has started a weekly “Idol” roundup hosted by various alums. McCreery was the first host Feb. 27. The show will air every Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST.

The network has been influential breaking new artists such as Selena Gomez, Alessia Cara, Kelsea Ballerini and Shawn Mendes. (Radio is not dead yet!) It’s clearly had more success on that front than reality TV shows recently.

***

DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2018 – Live performances from Times Square in the heart of New York City, are featured on America’s biggest celebration of the year, DICK CLARK’S NEW YEAR’S ROCKIN’ EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2018, airing on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/ Lorenzo Bevilaqua)
RYAN SEACREST

So far, the revelations of what Ryan Seacrest allegedly did to a former personal stylist has not derailed his TV career. He remains on both “Live With Kelly and Ryan” and “American Idol,” as of yesterday. Read the details in Variety. And he is still scheduled to be on the E! Oscar red carpet program on Sunday.

***
Carrie Underwood has yet to reveal her full face since she had 40 to 50 stitches on her face following a fall in November. This is the closest so far:

Instagram Photo

***

Clay Aiken’s Tweet of the week:

Billy Graham Built a Movement. Now His Son Is Dismantling It. https://t.co/cMicmrfpBP

— Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) February 24, 2018

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Will Smith is having a hard time dealing with Georgia’s bugs

Will Smith loves Georgia, but the state’s critters love him a little too much.

“Y’all gotta do something about the bugs,” he said in a video clip he filmed in the Savannah area, where his new movie “Gemini Man” is filming.

“Georgia is so gorgeous, it really is, it’s beautiful,” he said, demonstrating his fashionable insect-protection gear. “I’m just saying, y’all need to fix it.”

Conventional methods are having limited results.

“I sprayed Off on .. the bugs are on that like it’s honey,” he said. “I make my living with my face. Somebody do something about it, quick!”

 

Instagram Photo

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WATCH: T.I.’s “Black Panther” screening for Atlanta students

Atlanta rapper/actor T.I. and his wife Tiny hosted a “Black Panther” screening over the weekend for hundreds of students from Tri-Cities, Benjamin E. Mays, Druid Hills high schools and Usher’s New Look Foundation.

The event was a joint project of his new nonprofit charitable organization, Harris Community Works, and the Los Angeles-based nonprofit, Go For Yours. The organizations previously hosted a screening on L.A. and will be in Chicago next. The artist also known as Clifford Harris previously teamed up with Walmart for an advance screening.

Students were selected for the screening on the strength of their academic and extracurricular achievements. “You’re the real heroes!” T.I. told them. Check out the video below.

MORE: Nick Chubb and (oops) T.I. at a past “Black Panther” screening

MORE: Samuel L. Jackson surprised the audience at the Atlanta “Black Panther” premiere

What Michael B. Jordan had to give up for “Black Panther”

Atlanta’s Usher joins the fun at star-studded Hollywood premiere of “Black Panther”

myAJC: Before “Black Panther,” Chadwick Boseman was James Brown. How the Godfather’s daughters helped him prepare

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Will celebrities avoid Ryan Seacrest on Oscar red carpet?

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 28: Ryan Seacrest attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for NARAS)

Posted Tuesday, February 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

E! said Ryan Seacrest will still be a host of their annual red carpet special Sunday despite detailed allegations by his former personal stylist Suzy Hardy of multiple sexual harassment charges.

Seacrest has steadfastly denied the charges, saying he was a victim of blackmail. A two-month E! investigation said there was “insufficient evidence” of wrongdoing on his part but Hardy gave Variety magazine this week very specific actions he took that she deemed “sexual aggression” such as grabbing her crotch and rubbing his body against hers while wearing just his underwear.

Page Six of the New York Post spoke to publicists who said they will direct clients to go to Seacrest’s co host Giuliana Rancic or skip the network altogether on the red carpet.

One PR person told the Post that it would be stupid for any woman active in the #MeToo movement to talk to Seacrest right now.

Seacrest, who chose not to talk about the Variety story on his radio show Tuesday or on his ABC talk show “Live With Kelly and Ryan,” released a lengthy statement Wednesday saying he didn’t “want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.”

Here’s the entire statement:

“Much has been said about the #MeToo and Times Up movement(s) and the importance of providing women and men with the opportunity to share their stories of workplace misconduct, in an effort to change our culture and the systemic inequalities that exist. I absolutely support this cause unequivocally and applaud all the brave souls who have come forward to share their stories.

Sadly, last fall I became one of the accused, which I promptly revealed proactively to the network involved and to the public. And to be equally clear, those accusations were then investigated by an independent third-party over the course of a two-month process and involved dozens of interviews that included me, the accuser and countless others. Ultimately, my name was cleared. I eagerly participated in the investigation in order to demonstrate my innocence because I know my truth, and I believe in due process.

Yesterday, Variety published a salacious story that revealed the specific claims against me for the first time – even though an independent third-party investigator found insufficient evidence to support the claims. Much to my dismay, Variety didn’t speak with me or bother to speak with other credible witnesses or even ask for any of the evidence that was obtained during the investigation when offered, all of which clearly challenged the veracity of the claims made against me.

This person who has accused me of horrible things tried to buy her silence by asking for money on multiple occasions — I refused. I have worked extremely hard to achieve my success and I don’t take my opportunities for granted. I don’t want to accuse anyone of not telling the truth but in this case, I have no choice but to again deny the claims against me, remind people that I was recused of any wrongdoing, and put the matter to rest.

Hardy quickly responded with this statement to Variety:

Ryan elected to take the story public with a false narrative that he was exonerated and the victim of some sort of money grab. He is not the victim, and I refuse to let him victimize me for telling the truth.

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