Model-turned-actress Yaya Dacosta is preparing to bring Whitney Houston back to life on the small screen after landing the lead role in a planned TV biopic. Angela Bassett is stepping behind the camera to make her directorial debut with the project for America's Lifetime network, and she has cast The Butler star as the tragic R&B icon, according to TVLine.com.
The film, tentatively-titled I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story, will focus on the singer's rise to fame, her turbulent marriage to Bobby Brown and her drug issues. It is expected to air next year (15). DaCosta rose to prominence as a competitor on reality TV show America's Next Top Model and has since established herself as an actress with roles on U.S. soap opera All My Children, medical drama House and comedy Ugly Betty.
Last year (13), she also landed a small part in Lee Daniels' The Butler. Houston's manager and sister-in-law, Pat Houston, recently blasted plans to turn the late superstar's life story into a TV project, insisting she is "certainly worthy of more than a television movie".
The Houston family is reportedly in the process of developing its own Whitney film, similar to Michael Jackson's This Is It concert documentary, which was released following his death in 2009.
TV titan Oprah Winfrey fought back tears as she honoured Maya Angelou as the "greatest woman" she has ever known at the iconic poet's funeral on Saturday (07Jun14). The acclaimed writer's family and friends gathered at the main chapel at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to remember Angelou during a private service, which featured tributes from Winfrey, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama.
Angelou's grandson Elliott Jones welcomed mourners to the ceremony to celebrate "an amazing life - a life well-lived", and then started the memorial by reading a passage from the author's poem Still I Rise.
Clinton remembered the writer as having "the greatest voice on the planet", one which Obama admitted could lift her "right out of my own little head", but it was Winfrey's emotional speech which really moved the congregation.
She revealed she had counted Angelou as a close friend and mentor long before she rose to superstardom as a talk show and media mogul, and credited the poet with teaching her to always stay positive and look for the rainbow in the clouds.
Struggling to contain her sadness, Winfrey added, "Maya Angelou is the greatest woman I have ever known. She was my anchor. So it's hard to describe to you what it means when your anchor shifts."
The two-hour memorial service, which was also attended by actor/director Tyler Perry and veteran actress Cicely Tyson, featured performances from gospel singer Bobby Jones and country star Lee Ann Womack, who belted out her hit I Hope You Dance - one of Angelou's favourite songs.
The writer and poet, who had taught at Wake Forest University since 1982, died in her sleep on 28 May (14) at the age of 86.
Filmmaker Spike Lee is set for a new street honour in his native Brooklyn, New York if local council members get their way. Members of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Board 3 have voted in favour of re-branding Stuyvesant Avenue, between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street, Do The Right Thing Way, to honour Lee's cult 1989 movie about racial tensions boiling over on a hot day in Brooklyn.
Lee has since shown off a photo of himself holding the potential new street sign on Instagram.com, writing, "Good Morning People. Great, Great News Today... It Is On This One Block Our Joint (film) Was Shot. We Will Be Celebrating The 25th Silver Anniversary."
However, Lee faces one more hurdle before the honour becomes official as the board's recommendation is only advisory and any name change must be approved by officials at the City Council.
Councilman Robert Cornegy tells the New York Daily News he will introduce the legislation to rename the road, but says, "It's a bit complicated, because the City Council's standards for co-naming focus on people and organisations, not works of art.
"Nevertheless, I fully support this effort and will continue to work in every way I can to see the commemoration happen."
Maya Angelou's memorial service at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Saturday (07Jun14) will be broadcast live in America on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama will be among the guests delivering eulogies at the private ceremony, while country singer Lee Ann Womack will perform one of the poet's favourite songs, I Hope You Dance, during the service. Angelou, a longtime friend and mentor of Winfrey, died on 28 May (14), aged 86.
Reclusive author Harper Lee has reached a new settlement with Alabama museum bosses over her book To Kill A Mockingbird, just two weeks after re-launching legal action against them. The writer filed suit against Monroe County Heritage Museum officials in Monroeville, which inspired her fictional town of Maycomb, last year (13) over allegations they were exploiting her name and the title of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel on souvenirs without permission.
She maintained the museum had profited by more than $500,000 (£312,500) in 2011 after violating her trademark.
They reached an agreement in the case privately in February (14), but Lee declared the deal was off last month (May14), when she requested her lawsuit be reinstated.
However, a federal judge in Alabama officially dismissed the case on Thursday (05Jun14) after being notified that lawyers for both sides had struck a new settlement.
The terms of the new deal have remained confidential, but both sides have been ordered to pay their own court costs.
Actor Denzel Washington is reportedly in talks to re-team with his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua on The Magnificent Seven remake. Tom Cruise originally signed on to appear alongside Matt Damon as one of the gang of gunslingers in MGM's version of John Sturges' 1960 film, but dropped out of the project last year (13).
Now movie executives are hoping to reunite Washington and Fuqua for a script rewritten by The Blind Side director John Lee Hancock.
The original movie, penned by True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto, starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Horst Buchholz as seven renegades who are recruited to protect a Mexican village from an invasion of bandits.
The Magnificent Seven was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa film Seven Samurai and was followed by three sequels - Return of the Magnificent Seven, Guns of the Magnificent Seven and The Magnificent Seven Ride Again.
Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan were crowned the kings of the 2014 CMT Music Awards after they each took home two trophies at the TV network's annual prizegiving on Wednesday (05Jun14). Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard earned prizes for Duo Video of the Year as well as Collaborative Video of the Year for This is How We Roll featuring Bryan.
The Drunk On You hitmaker landed a second award, CMT Performance of the Year, for a separate duet with Lionel Richie thanks to their Oh No/All Night Long set from the 2012 CMT Artists of the Year TV special.
The trio dominated the show at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee from the start of the ceremony, when they were joined by ZZ Top and R&B star Jason Derulo to sing and dance to a mash-up of his song Talk Dirty and Florida Georgia Line's This is How We Roll to kick off the programme.
It was also a big night for Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert, who won the Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year and Female Video of the Year, respectively. This is the second year in a row in which the trio has taken the top honours.
The ceremony, which was hosted by three-time emcee Kristen Bell, also included sets from Keith Urban, Hunter Hayes, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Lady Antebellum and Little Big Town.
John Legend sang a special version of his hit All of Me arranged by Hunter Hayes, while Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles joined in with vocals, and Lee Ann Womack and Kacey Musgraves took on Alan Jackson's Livin on Love just before Underwood presented him with the first-ever CMT Impact Award.
The top winners are:
Video of the Year - See You Again by Carrie Underwood
Female Video of the Year - Automatic by Miranda Lambert
Male Video of the Year - Doin' What She Likes by Blake Shelton
Group Video of the Year - Done by The Band Perry
Duo Video of the Year - Round Here by Florida Georgia Line
Breakthrough Video of the Year - Wasting All These Tears by Cassadee Pope
Collaborative Video of the Year - This is How We Roll by Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan
CMT Performance of the Year - Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie for Oh No/All Night Long from 2012 CMT Artists of the Year
CMT Impact Award - Alan Jackson
Country singer Lee Ann Womack is set to pay tribute to the late Maya Angelou at her upcoming funeral by performing one of the poet's favourite songs, I Hope You Dance. The acclaimed author will be laid to rest on Saturday (07Jun14) at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Womack has been asked to perform her hit song in honour of her fan.
The singer tells Rolling Stone that Angelou gushed about the track to her good pal Oprah Winfrey, who then invited the singer to perform it on her talk show - and the appearance catapulted her career.
Womack explains, "When someone told me I Hope You Dance was Miss Angelou's favourite song all those years ago, I thought they were being nice. Then, when my publicist was trying to get me on Oprah, suddenly all the momentum changed... and we found out it was because Maya Angelou told Oprah about me and the song.
"I was honoured, moved and thrilled about everything she said to me about the song and my singing."
And Womack admits she jumped at the chance to honour Angelou one final time at her funeral: "She is one of the true modern American voices in literature. Her books have touched so many, and the fact that my song touched her... I couldn't imagine not singing it for her, especially on Saturday."
Actress Lee Chamberlin has lost her fight with cancer at the age of 76. The star, who had been living in Paris, France, passed away on 25 May (14) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, while visiting her son Matthew.
Born Alverta La Pallo, Chamberlin rose to fame in 1971 as an original cast member of educational children's show The Electric Company, on which she co-starred with Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno and a young Morgan Freeman.
Chamberlin went on to work on the stage, appearing in a 1973 production of Shakespeare's King Lear in New York's Central Park, opposite James Earl Jones as the title character, and she also carved out a career in film, with credits in Sidney Poitier's 1970s movies Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do It Again.
Her other roles included parts on TV comedy series Diff'rent Strokes, police drama Paris and U.S. soap opera All My Children, in which she played Pat Baxter from 1983 to 1995.
Pharrell Williams surprised fans at Harlem's Apollo Theater in New York on Tuesday night (03Jun14) by bringing out rapper pal T.I. to perform his verse in the hit track Blurred Lines. Williams' live-streamed concert was part of the American Express Unstaged series, and was directed by Spike Lee.