Viacom and One Africa Music Fest Host Employee Meet and Greet With Afrobeat Stars

Afrobeat exploded out of a combination of West African musical styles in the 1970s. From its original sounds exemplified by Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti to the Nigerian, Ghanaian and South African artists blowing up the hottest radio stations and nightclubs across the U.S., Europe and Africa today, the Afrobeat movement is alive, well, and on fire!

The BEAT, Viacom’s black employee resource group, wanted to share the Afrobeat movement with its members and the rest of the Viacom family. On the eve of the second One Africa Music Fest in New York City, the BEAT hosted an Afrobeat listening session and meet and greet with two of Nigeria’s biggest Afrobeat artists.

(L to R) Praiz, Ezinne Kwubiri, Flavour Photo by: Oluwaseye

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VH1’s Scared Famous Pits Ghouls and Ghosts Against Terrifying Reality Stars

On VH1’s Scared Famous, 10 TV personalities from VH1 hit shows including RuPaul’s Drag Race, Mob Wives, Love & Hip Hop, America’s Next Top Model, Black Ink Crew and Brunch with Tiffany will go head-to-head in a series of nightmarish challenges that honor classic horror flicks like Scream and It.

Reality TV can get scary, but can these stars handle ghastly challenges involving snakes, spiders and dirty toilets?

The eerie competition features homicidal clowns, ghosts, zombies and an alien from the planet Glamtron: aka RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Alaska 5000, who, in a clip from the trailer, throws some shade at an unnamed cast member: “She might be a drama queen, but she’s no match for a drag queen.”

The stars will live in a ghoulish, abandoned estate in Savannah, Georgia (one of America’s so-called most-haunted cities), forming alliances and swiftly breaking them. The celeb who “survives” will win a  $10,000 donation to their favorite charity, as well as some serious props for being the bravest star in Hollywood.

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Rita Ora Returns to Hometown London to Host the 2017 MTV EMA Awards

The 24th annual MTV EMA Awards will be an evening of world-class performances from some of the biggest music acts on the planet. For the first time since 1996, the festivities take place in London, home to iconic bands such as Oasis and the Spice Girls, as well as this year’s host: global superstar Rita Ora.

Ora’s EMA resume is robust. She opened the ceremony in 2012 with a performance of her hit song R.I.P.,  presented Eminem with his Best Hip Hop Award in 2013, and is an eight-time EMA award nominee.

The model, singer and dancer’s career began with a chart-topping debut album, Ora. She’s collaborated with stars like Charli XCX and Iggy Azalea for a number of hits, and was most recently a judge on The X Factor and the host of VH1’s America’s Next Top Model.

“Rita is a multi-talented star who’s been an MTV core artist for over half of a decade,” said Viacom International Head of Music and Talent Bruce Gillmer in a press release. “She’s the perfect hometown hero to lead the 2017 MTV EMAs, which promises to be the year’s ultimate global music celebration.”

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Eminem Drops Exclamation Point on Thrilling BET Hip Hop Awards

The BET Hip Hop Awards splashed down to the Sunshine State for its 2017 ceremony, taking advantage of South Florida’s tropical vibes, frenetic energy and vibrant music scene to honor hip-hop’s hustle. The show attracted a who’s who of hip-hop royalty, including Gucci Mane, Luke Campbell, Playboi Carti and Flo Rida, while transforming Miami’s Jackie Gleason Theater into a trendy South Beach nightclub with bursts of pyrotechnics, fog, and flashing lights.

Migos performs “Too Hotty” at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Hosted by Miami native and modern renaissance man DJ Khaled, the Hip-Hop Awards paid homage to both industry veterans like Eminem (who went viral with a politically-charged freestyle) and spunky newcomers like Hustler of the Year, Cardi B.

Check out these highlights from the hottest night in hip-hop:

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Robin Thede Debuts to Strong Critical Reviews on BET Late Night

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Robin Thede stepped onto the late-night television stage on BET last night, filling an enormous hole by becoming the only black woman in a genre dominated by white men.

And she was fantastic.

With a GIF attack on Donald Trump, a pop-up concert in a bodega, and funny takes on topics ranging from Eminem to the NFL, Thede announced herself with a fluid, punchy half hour that critics loved.

“Thede is charismatic, funny, and unabashed in her beliefs,” wrote John Hugar in Splitsider

Indeed, the Chris Rock-produced show is hilarious. Thede, the former head writer for Comedy Central’s Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, opened with a ridiculous skit in which she attempts to seduce an attractive Trump supporter with increasingly absurd props, from a Make America Great Again hat to a Confederate flag tattoo.

Watch:

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Klepper’s Fake Fake News Show Debuts Strong As Comedy Central Sees Quarterly Ratings Rise

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 25: Comedian Jordan Klepper hosts the premiere of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper” on September 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Alarmed, self-satisfied, and wielding the confabulating vocabulary of the ever-growing alt-right pseudo-news complex, The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper came burning out of its Midtown Manhattan bunker with a week one ratings victory.

Viewers eager to, as Klepper promised, “only hear from others what you’ve already been telling yourself,” drove ratings up 43 percent among total viewers compared to the same timeslot a year ago. The show, which follows The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Monday through Thursday on Comedy Central, averaged 683,000 total viewers in its first full week.

Since that strong debut, Klepper’s conspiracy-laced satire has continued honing its deft assault on the insipid fever dreams masquerading as news on Infowars.com, Breitbart News Network, and similar outlets. And like Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s long-running The Colbert Report before him, Klepper is spot-on lampooning his subjects by adopting their personas.

In the aftermath of last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, with Alex Jones busy papering together a schizophrenic collage assigning responsibility for the carnage to a vast deep state conspiracy, an alarmed Klepper reminds us that, “… the mainstream media is wasting our time conducting interviews, verifying sources, and trying to assemble an ‘accurate picture of the suspect’s background.’ Meanwhile, brave online truth-tellers like Infowars and Gateway Pundit are getting to these answers first. They get to their answers so fast, sometimes it feels like they didn’t even have time to think about them.”

Watch:

Flanked by a coterie of absurd citizen journalists, Klepper is pulling off his fake fake news show with a consistency that has impressed critics.

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A First Glimpse at the Savage, Psychedelic World of Paramount’s Annihilation

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

A shellshocked Natalie Portman sits in a glass-walled room, draped in a hospital gown. Surrounding her is a retinue of observers and interrogators tucked into hazmat suits.

“Can you describe its form?” one asks her.

“No,” she answers, as the scene cuts away to savage nightmare jungle world where plants and flesh have intertwined.

“Was it carbon based?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did it communicate with you?”

“It reacted to me.”

“You really have no idea what it was?”

She doesn’t. This is our first look at Paramount Pictures Annihilation, the Alex Garland-directed sci-fi nailbiter based upon author Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. It will transport us into a gripping, incomprehensible and frightening realm when it hits theaters on Feb. 23.

Annihilation also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny and Oscar Isaac.

MyViacommunity Stories: Opening Doors for Others

We sat down with Jason Williams, vice president of Global Consumer Products at Nickelodeon, to discuss Viacom’s UP Mentoringthe program he started through Viacommunity.

Q: Talk a little bit about your mentoring program.

A: UP Mentoring started in New York with 60 volunteers from Viacom in 2014, with a business-oriented program. That first year we focused on 20 students, and after three years, we’ve had over 200 Viacom employee volunteers and upwards of a hundred students. We’ve expanded the Viacom UP Mentoring program to include a creative component called UP Creative. There’s a great team I’ve assembled across the entire company, and they help guide the decision-making for all of this, and maintain the partnerships and the momentum for the program.

Q: What first drove you to volunteer?

A: When I came to Viacom, I looked to see what kind of mentoring programs there were at the company. And I wanted to find a way that I could create a space for students –young, aspiring students who wanted to get into the media and entertainment industry—to break the door down and get exposure.

Q: What would you tell people who are interested in volunteering?

A: Always think about how when you open the door, that it’s always important that you hold the door open to allow the right person to come in behind you. I would tell people who volunteer to continue to hold that door open for others, and to give of yourself. We really encourage everyone to drop what they’re doing and go out into the community. It shows that at the core of Viacom, being at the cusp of social issues is in our DNA. It’s unlike any other media company out there, because of our roots.

Cycling the Crossroads of the World with Cycle for Survival

Clockwise from top left: Cycle for Survival takes over Times Square; the author and intern Tatiana Cadet on their bikes; a Cycle for Survival bike; Cadet challenges herself to a great workout.

Times Square – the heavily nicknamed Crossroads of the World, Center of the Universe, or Heart of the World (among others) – draws an estimated 50 million annual visitors; more than 300,000 pedestrians pass through daily. It is also home to a pair of towers where Viacom keeps offices.

This bustling pedestrian and entertainment center provides the perfect backdrop for an annual Times Square Takeover by Cycle for Survival, the movement to beat rare cancers that is led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC).

Earlier this year, I joined the battle alongside 60 employees across 23 departments in Viacom’s New York, Hollywood, and Paramount Pictures offices by participating in Cycle for Survival’s 11th year of rides. The energy was incredible, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to represent Team Viacom by participating in this year’s Times Square Takeover.

In late September, corporate communications intern Tatiana Cadet and I took to bikes smack in the heart of Times Square for an hour-long ride. We were there to support the cause and raise awareness and excitement among employees for our larger company-sponsored Cycle for Survival ride next spring. Jubilation, motivation, hope, and friendship filled the air.

Read Tatiana’s description of the event:

“It was the end of September, it felt like summer, and I was in the middle of Time Square on an exercise bike. My heart was racing, my legs were moving, and the sun was beaming on my face. I could feel the sweat dripping down, but the woman on stage motioning us to crank it up and keep pushing harder for the people that can no longer push kept me pedaling. It was my first time participating in Cycle for Survival, and I was amazed.

“At first, I was nervous because I heard about friends talking about extreme Soul Cycling classes that left them drained, but this was nothing like that. Cycling in the middle of New York City was enough to make it different, but the trainers from Equinox who led us on our cycling journey were great motivators. They reminded us that we weren’t just cycling to get some exercise for the day, but to be a part of a great cause.

“It felt good to be surrounded by so many people that care about making a difference. Between high-fiving my cycling neighbors and riding to positive music and motivating trainers, I left the event feeling really good and proud to be a part of Team Viacom, which shows a dedication to serving diverse communities and staying involved.”

Relive the experience as it appeared on @Viacom’s Instagram Story:

Standing Up to Uncertainty, Ideal Jobs, and Kids in China: Viacom Global Insights Digest

by Christian Kurz, Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

October 2017

Viacom’s latest consumer insights from around the world include how people cope with uncertainty, teens’ and young adults’ ideal jobs, and kids in China. As always, stories are available in English, Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese.

Christian Kurz, SVP Global Consumer Insights, Viacom

INFOGRAPHIC: How People Around the World Are Standing Up To Uncertainty

In the face of an unpredictable future, time with loved ones, music and laughter are essential tools for managing stress.

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In an Ideal Career, Teens and Young Adults Value Passions Over Profit 

16 to 34 year olds would rather have flexibility and free time than a big paycheck, according to a new study.     

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Kids in China Are Less Anxious, More Careful With Their Money, and Have More IRL Friends

A recent project illustrates how Chinese kids are similar and different from their global peers.

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For more information, please email insights@viacom.com

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