Everyone Loves Dwayne Johnson – and Seven Other Reasons You Must See Baywatch

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

With Memorial Day weekend, summer arrives in the American conscience. And what’s more summer (or more American), than Baywatch, that 242-episode icon that lives in everyone’s collective slow-motion memories of the 1990s?

The last episode wrapped a long time ago, but Paramount is bringing Baywatch back, refreshed and updated for the cinema, next Thursday, May 25:

Long-time fans likely don’t need a lot of incentive to don their red swim trunks and life jackets and get in line outside the theater. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Baywatch, however, here are eight reasons why you should stake out a spot in your favorite beach chair now:

1) Everybody loves Dwayne Johnson

The People’s Champion. The Rock. The Rock Obama. The future U.S. president?

Johnson is so perfectly suited to be so many things that when Paramount released G.I. Joe: Retaliation in 2013, he was the natural pick to star as heavy machine gunner Roadblock, one of the most popular Joes of all time.

And he plays a starring role as Mitch Buchannon, the jetski-riding, bad-guy chasing, refrigerator-carrying man about beach who leads the Baywatch lifeguard team. Who else would dive underneath a raging fire and emerge in the bowels of a burning yacht to save someone? And who doesn’t want to see that?

The answer: no one.

“In an age when it’s cooler to hate things than enjoy them, Johnson has carved out an improbable niche for himself, as someone it’s safe to like,” GQ’s Caty Weaver wrote recently. “Maybe you like him because he’s big and does fast things in slow motion. Maybe you like him because he had one song to sing in the children’s musical he was cast in, and he sang it with his whole heart. Undeniably, he is likable…”

2) Dwayne Johnson love Zac Efron (and so will you)

Johnson, who is People’s reining Sexiest Man Alive, recently endorsed costar Zac Efron – who plays Olympic gold medalist Matt Brody in the film – as a candidate to assume his title next year.

“Do I get a vote? Then yes, absolutely I could see that,” Johnson told People. “I could see one out of five happening, I can’t divulge that right now, but he’s in the top five.”

(L-R) Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon and Zac Efron as Matt Brody in Baywatch by Paramount Pictures, Montecito Picture Company, FlynnPicture Co., and Fremantle Productions. Photo credit: Frank Masi © 2016 PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

And what’s not to like? While Brody saunters onto the beach as a hotshot international swimming star, he reprises the role of affable dufus that Efron excels at. Buchannon mocks him as “One Direction” and makes him haul tandem refrigerators across the beach to prove himself. But that doesn’t stop Brody from leading monster parties, chasing criminals in “lifeguard pursuit” down the boardwalk, and, you know, leaping off a freaking motorcycle into the ocean.

3) But then again, the Rock loves everyone

The Baywatch beach is big, and there’s a lot of talent filling it up. On the Forces of Good side of the credits, Alexandra Daddario plays Summer Quinn, Kelly Rorhbach reprises the role of C.J. Parker, and Ilfenesh Hadera plays Buchannon’s second-in-command Stephanie Holden. Meanwhile, Priyanka Chopra, a former Miss World and one of the most popular Bollywood celebrities in India, tries out her evil cackling as Victoria Leeds, whose materialization in the Baywatch environs has directly corresponded with an uptick in violence and drug smuggling. The Rock, peering down from his lifeguard chair, nods approvingly at them all:

Read More

Remembering Brad Grey

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Brad Grey, who led Viacom’s Paramount Pictures for a dozen years and left a rich legacy at the studio, passed away on Sunday evening following a battle with cancer. He was in his home in Holmby Hills, California with his family by his side. He was 59 years old.

“Brad Grey was an extraordinary talent with a passion and gift for storytelling that won’t be forgotten,” said Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish. “He has left an incredible legacy at Paramount and across the entire entertainment industry, from the beloved hit franchises he developed for both film and television, to the countless individuals he mentored and supported throughout his career. All of us at Viacom and Paramount mourn his passing, and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

Grey’s commitment to delivering poignant, compelling stories to audiences around the world bolstered the 105-year-old studio’s deep library with films across many genres. Starting with the smash hit Transformers in 2007, Grey guided Paramount into the franchise era with the original Paranormal Activity and continuations of the classic Mission: Impossible and Star Trek series. The studio complemented these releases with a parade of must-see standalone films, including the cerebral Interstellar, the gripping World War Z, and the gonzo Wolf of Wall Street.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 27: Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise and Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Brad Grey attend the New York premiere of "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" at Times Square on July 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

NEW YORK, NY – JULY 27: Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise and Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures Brad Grey attend the New York premiere of “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” at Times Square on July 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Aside from box office success – eight of Paramount’s 10 top-grossing films came over Grey’s tenure – this varied slate earned many accolades for the studio, including at least one Academy Awards Best Picture nominee in 11 of Grey’s 12 years. Most recently, Paramount earned a pair of Oscars in February: Viola Davis took Best Supporting Actress for her work in the widely hailed adaptation of August Wilson’s Fences, while the gorgeous Arrival earned the award for Sound Editing (both earned Best Picture nominations). At the 2008 Academy Awards, Paramount’s No Country for Old Men won four Oscars – Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.

 

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Paramount Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brad Grey (R) and Cassandra Grey attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 22: Paramount Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brad Grey (R) and Cassandra Grey attend the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

 

“All of us at Paramount are deeply saddened by the news of Brad Grey’s passing,” said current Paramount Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos. “He was at the helm of the studio for over a decade and was responsible for so many of the studio’s most beloved films. I was proud to call Brad a friend, and one I greatly admired. He will be missed by us all, and left his mark on our industry and in our hearts.”

Read More

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.

Read More

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.”

Read More