A Secret Language Written on Viacom’s Walls – Art at Viacom Continues with Marela Zacarias

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

The colors ripple like some secret language across the objects’ surface, arrayed in geometric patterns as elegant as a circuit board and as mysterious as ancient hieroglyphics. They sit on a series of banners and bulging sculptures in the south lobby of Viacom’s Times Square headquarters, dancing along the walls, each with a unique pattern of colors and lines.

Sculptures by Marela Zacarias hanging in Viacom’s lobby at 1515 Broadway as part of the latest Art at Viacom installation.

The expansive and varied texture of the work reflects the deep cultural influences of their creator, Marela Zacarias, a Mexico, Montana and Brooklyn based artist who was the latest exhibitor for Art at Viacom, an ongoing program that showcases rising artists at our offices around the world.

Huffington Post contributor Isa Freeling wrote this about Zacarias’ exhibit in April: “Her show, Echoing Forms is impressive in its ability to sensually exact beautiful pieces by casting sheets of mesh into sensuous folded blankets, by using plaster and polymers and are so exquisitely executed and rich in texture and strength, it is a pleasure to look at the work.”

Zacarias’ installation follows a parade of Art at Viacom projects: the striking metallic oil paintings of Kip Omolade, the geometric wizardy of Tahiti Pehrson, the cartoonishy wondrous works of Australian duo Dabs Myla, the mammoth swirling tablecloth sculptures of Crystal Wagner, the multicolored yarn meadows of HOTTEA, and massive ceiling-dangling floral display from Rebecca Louise Law.

The tricycle was an existing work that Marela Zacarias incorporated into her
Art at Viacom exhibit in Viacom’s Times Square headquarters lobby.

Zacarias partnered with Viacom after high-profile installations at the Brooklyn Museum, Praxis Gallery, Brooklyn’s William Vale, and other places. She is constantly on the move. When I spoke to her over the phone the week after the exhibit opened, she was already down in Mexico City, preparing for a gallery show. Below is a condensed and lightly edited version of our conversation:

Stuart Winchester: How did you decide to use the banners, which are a departure from your typical work?

Marela Zacarias: There were challenges in terms of how much weight I could hang, and the sculptures are 135 pounds, so I couldn’t do my usual work, because there was nowhere to hang it from. And then I thought of the banners. I’ve been doing sculpture for about six years, and I really haven’t gone back to canvas for a while, so it felt really liberating to return, and I don’t know if I would have made that strategic choice if it wasn’t for the lobby’s structural situation. The technical problems led me to real artistic growth.

Hanging the banners at 1515 Broadway for Marela Zacarias’ Art at Viacom installation.

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A Celebration of Motherly Love: Ratings Soared for VH1’s Dear Mama Special

For the second year in a row, VH1 celebrated Mother’s Day with Dear Mama: An Event to Honor Moms. Halle Berry, Gladys Knight, Taraji P. Henson and Robin Thicke were among the A-list stars present at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California earlier this month, taking the stage to give thanks to their own moms and mothers everywhere.

With 1.7 million viewers tuning in to watch the amorous ceremony, it seems these stars aren’t alone in their insurmountable love and gratitude for their moms. Dear Mama was also among the top five most-tweeted shows the day it premiered.

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The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Where Fake Correspondents Become Real Stars

The Daily Show With Trevor Noah puts a surrealist spin on American politics with its daily takedowns of all that is obscene, absurd and inexplicable in Washington, D.C. By doing so, the satirical news source not only fills a vital role in U.S. entertainment and media, but it also incubates a steady stream of rising on-air talent. Lately, those correspondents who report alongside Noah have been showing up all over the place, re-affirming the show’s role as one of the premier talent incubators on TV today.

The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper is breaking out into a new role as host of a late-night show of his own, which will air weeknights following The Daily Show, while Hasan Minhaj entertained a constellation of elite journalist, celebrities, and politicians at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD), an event typically attended by the president.

But Trump opted to skip the dinner in favor of holding a rally in Harrisburg Pennsylvania, after announcing in February that he would be the first president to skip the event since Ronald Reagan (who was recuperating after being shot) in 1981. Journalists predicted this year’s soirée would be unconventional. And it was.

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Pick Your Passion: 8 Divine Insights From MTV Star and Author, Charlamagne Tha God

MTV star and author Charlamagne Tha God recently took a break from his busy schedule to talk to employees at Viacom headquarters in New York City. The host of MTV’s Uncommon Sense and the recently-published author of Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It told employees about his journey to stardom, from growing up in the small town of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, to working for Jay Z, to finding his truth and passion in radio and on-air TV.

Charlamagne’s close friend, radio host Lawrence Jackson, moderated the discussion, which was followed by a question-and-answer session with employees.

Watch the video:

Charlamagne emphasized finding truth and authenticity in your work, no matter what you do. He considers getting fired (by Jay Z, nonetheless) to be a necessary part of his life—a “divine misdirection.” He thinks everybody should follow their passion, but keep an open mind if their passion doesn’t fit their skillset—not everybody has the voice to sing, for example, but if your passion is music, there are many opportunities to make a career in the industry without trying to rap.

Here are some more of Charlamagne’s insights from the conversation:

On being an author: “I honestly feel like that’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done so far. I’m from a small town in South Carolina. In order to transcend your circumstances, books and hip-hop music are what allowed me to dream. Looking at a book full of experiences I’ve been through, and hoping somebody will be empowered and touched by the way I was touched by literature is a real dope feeling.”

On privilege: “White privilege is very real. But as a black man, I feel privileged to be black. I feel like when you’re talking about black privilege, you’re talking about something spiritual. When you’re talking about white privilege, you’re talking about something systemic. When you tap into black privilege, it gives you that divine ability to prosper in life in spite of everything thrown in our face to hinder us.

“I grew up hearing about black men being kings and black women being queens and goddesses. For us, we need to get back to that way of thinking. My skin is not a liability. My skin is my strength. For anybody marginalized or oppressed, that’s your privilege. Tap into your unique privilege. Whatever you are, embrace that. I choose to embrace my black privilege.”

BURBANK, CA - MAY 08: Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of The Breakfast Club on New York's Power 105.1,autographs copies of "Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It" at the iHeartRadio Theater LA in Burbank, California on May 8, 2017. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

Charlamagne Tha God autographs copies of Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It at the iHeartRadio Theater LA in Burbank, California on May 8, 2017. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)

On superheroes: “I grew up with Marvel comic books, and recently worked with them. I was a big Luke Cage fan, and it was a big thing for me when Netflix decided to do the series. They recently re-issued the Power Man Iron Fist comic books, and the guy who did the illustrations for those books did the illustration for me. It’s like a vision board of sorts. We were marginalized, now we’re superheroes.”

On making it in New York City: “It’s not the size of the pond, but the size of the hustle.

“Even though I was in a small pond, the ripples were making their way to New York City. I cultivated my craft in that small pond, and made a splash.”

On living your truth: “When people say things about you, or have a perception about you, that’s fine. That’s not your true character. If you’re aware of who your true character is, you can be self-aware, self-deprecating. What can people say to you then?

“As a young black man growing up, we often see men who look like us who are successful in athletics or in entertainment. If that’s not your dream, don’t do it.”

On producing top-notch content: “In the TV world, you have executives who know TV and that’s good, but do you know culture and content? You have to know both.

“Give everybody in the room credit. The know-it-all knows nothing. I tell people in radio, you’re never going to beat the internet.”

On being a fan: “I’m always a fan. Once you stop being a fan, you think your word matters a little too much, and people start saying, “Who does he think he is?” I always try to keep that fan perspective.”

On the value of success: “I admire success, but I admire what you do with success. For example, people like Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Jay-Z. They’re doing a lot for culture, they’re moving things forward. Those are the people I admire—not for their fame, or money, but what they do with their prosperity. Like Jay Z’s Kalief Browder documentary [on Viacom’s Spike network] – I can’t attribute that whole documentary to why Rikers is closing, but it brought a lot of attention to the vile conditions at Rikers. I don’t think that story gets told without somebody like Jay Z.”

The Golden Age of Golden Popcorn: Highlights From the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards

The 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards was a gender and genre-bending revolution. The 26th annual iteration was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on May 9, and hosted by Workaholics star Adam Devine. For the first time, MTV’s celebration of mega-hits included television juggernauts alongside cinematic blockbusters. It also banished gendered categories, a first for American award shows besides the Grammys.

Beginning in 1992, the MTV Movie Awards lit up Hollywood’s award show circuit. Its edgy and unique categories such as Best Kiss became as iconic as the network itself. As an arbiter of youth culture, MTV knows how to adapt to an ever-changing world—and this year’s ceremony was no exception.

Rolling Stone called the network’s decision to omit gender distinctions “a simple but radical switch,” citing Best Actor winner Emma Thompson’s acceptance speech.

“The first acting award in history that doesn’t separate nominees based on their sex says something about how we perceive the human experience,” Watson said. “Empathy and the ability to use your imagination should have no limits.”

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BET, VH1 Win NAMIC Awards for Telling Diverse, Authentic Stories

Whose stories are being told on television? Now, more than ever, they’re our viewers’—their lives, experiences, and individual triumphs and hardships.

The National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) Vision Awards honor original TV programming that reflects the diversity of its audience.

NAMIC announced this year’s winners on Monday, April 24. Thirteen shows from three Viacom networks, including BET, VH1, and Nickelodeon, were nominated for awards. Out of these nominations, three programs—including BET’s Being Mary Jane, Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement and VH1’s Hip Hop Honors: All Hail the Queens won their respective categories.

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Unity Spans the Globe for Viacommunity Day’s 21st Year

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Lisa Di Venuta contributed reporting.

In an enormous show of support for local communities around the world, more than 4,000 Viacom employees threw themselves into the 21st annual Viacommunity Day last Friday. It was themed as a day of unity, bringing employees from every part of the company together at more than 150 projects sites across the United States and more than a dozen other nations, a collective effort that underscored Viacom’s unwavering dedication to putting our resources, skills, energies and collective will toward improving our communities.

“Viacommunity has a long legacy with our company,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, standing among a group of employees outside of a Boys & Girls Club in New Rochelle, 20 miles north of Times Square in the New York City suburbs. “I remember when I joined the company in 1997 in the early days of Viacommunity, and it’s always been a day, throughout different management teams, throughout different phases of the media business, where we would take a day and allow people to give back to their communities. This is all evidence that communities matter. That’s what Viacommunity is all about.”

 

Viacommunity Day 2017 Recap Video from Viacom on Vimeo.

Support for the effort transcended our employee ranks, reaching into the celebrity Twittersphere:

Events began early in the morning, spreading west from our outposts in Asia and Australia and following the sun across Europe and Africa and then jumping the Atlantic. The Viacommunity spirit rippled from the five boroughs of New York City and across the suburbs, west to Tennessee and finally California, where Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year.

Below is just a small sampling of the energy, enthusiasm, and effort that our volunteers injected into their communities over the course of a single day.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of Viacom's Times Square headquarters.

A Viacom employee gets psyched for Viacommunity Day 2017 in front of 1515 Broadway.

CALIFORNIA – Paramount Repeats as Viacommunity Day Cup Champions

With the highest percentage of employees participating in Viacommunity Day out of any Viacom division, Paramount locked in the Viacommunity Day Cup for the second consecutive year. Employees had spent the past 12 months passing their prize around, Stanley Cup style, with different groups holding the trophy for a week at a time. Taking the cup again is a testament to how deeply entrenched the Viacommunity spirit is on the lot, where longstanding relationships with local schools and organizations fuse with individual efforts to create an atmosphere rich with giving.

The Fulfillment Fund

The commitment was evident on Paramount’s Hollywood lot on Friday morning, when a bus pulled in to pick up more than two dozen employee volunteers. It was already loaded with 25 students and four chaperones from Alexander Hamilton High School in west Los Angeles. They were headed six miles south, beneath the 10 freeway and to the campus of the University of Southern California (USC). On a separate bus, 25 Viacom employees were heading in the same direction from the company’s shiny new Hollywood building, stopping to pick up an additional 17 students from Helen Bernstein High School before rendezvousing at the university.

The Fulfillment Fund, an organization that focuses on orienting high-risk students toward college, was way ahead of both groups. They’d set up a unique tour: a campus-wide scavenger hunt for groups of students and volunteer mentors to navigate together. What’s the name of the campus bookstore? Which year was the arts building dedicated? Which years did USC football win the Rose Bowl? Four versions of the hunt helped to disperse the laughing, giddy students across the hot campus and avoid overcrowding at any one site.

Among the Viacom and Paramount volunteers were seven USC alumni and at least two graduates of Hamilton High School. Site captain Lori Nakama, a director of creative services for digital and television distribution in home media who was participating in her seventh Viacommunity Day, was among them.

“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” she said. “I love getting to work with people in the company that I don’t normally get to talk to. We’re so busy here that, a lot of times, I don’t leave my desk. So I don’t get to meet somebody who works in theatrical, or in finance, or in theatrical finance. So at Viacommunity Day, you not only are building a community within the community, but a community within the company.”

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Viacom Employee Samantha Newman and Family Win Trip to KCAs

Vice President of Velocity Marketing Operations Samantha Newman had never entered a Viacom awards show contest before—and she’s worked with the company for 10 years.

Newman and her husband, Jason, have two children, 8-year-old Ethan and 4-year-old Alexa. “It’s hard traveling when you have young kids,” said Newman.

But this year Newman’s kids were finally old enough to travel and attend an award show—right in time for Nickelodeon’s 28th annual Kids’ Choice Awards. Newman entered the contest, and won. The timing was fortuitous, as her son was just becoming a fan of live-action shows on Nickelodeon—many of which were represented at this year’s ceremony.

Watch as Newman broke the news to her children:

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Viacom Velocity Scores Pair of Webby Nominations

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Viacom Velocity, our in-house integrated marketing and creative solutions team, has locked in a pair of nominations for the Webby Awards. The spots – and three additional promos highlighted by Webby – showcase Velocity’s versatility, as they skip between movie tie-ins and product spotlights, spoofs and elaborate stunts, the desert and the arctic. Scroll down to check out some of their work, and click through by April 20 to vote.

Old Spice Sweat-Blastin’ Robot Tank – VOTE NOW

Category: Film & Video – Comedy (Branded)

Here we journey to the desert, where Barak Hardley is battling ferocious sweat monsters from his mobile Craft Services workshop. He fights back with an “awesome” plane-tank that zaps the dripping invaders with eviscerating laser beams:

Bad Santa 2 – Drunk History – VOTE NOW

Category: Social – Arts & Entertainment (Video)

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