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It has been quite awhile since we heard anything from NBC’s “Heroes,” since its cancelled reboot/miniseries in 2015.

Now actor, Leonard Stewart, is making accusations of racism on the show and racial tension between he and co-star, Ali Larter,  for being the reason he was written off the series after the first season.

In an essay he penned for Variety Magazine he elaborately explains is issues with Ali and how his concerns were never taken seriously as a series regular. Check out an insert of the essay below:

As production began, I looked forward to sharing my thoughts on my character with the writing staff, as I heard other cast members had done the same with theirs. Unfortunately, no such meeting ever materialized. Then I learned that despite the show’s three Black series regulars, there were no Black writers on staff. After a particularly odd promotional photoshoot — in which all the Black adult series regulars were relegated to the back and sides of photo after photo because, we were told, we were “tall” — I was approached by Tim Kring, the creator of the show. He told me my character would not be introduced in the second episode, but that great ideas were on the way. I sat on the sidelines for the second, third, fourth and fifth episodes. Finally, I was excited to learn that Episode 6 would mark my debut.

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Leonard Roberts and Ali Larter in Season 1, Episode 6 of “Heroes.”Courtesy NBC

Episode 6 began filming in August 2006. D.L. Hawkins was in an interracial marriage with Niki Sanders, a white woman played by Ali Larter. The script suggested D.L. and Niki had a volatile relationship — and it wasn’t long before art was imitating life, with me on the receiving end of pushback from my co-star regarding the playing of a particularly tense scene. Coming from theater, I was familiar with passions running high in the process of bringing characters to life, so I later gave her a bottle of wine with a note affirming what I believed to be mutual respect and a shared commitment to doing exceptional work. Neither the gift nor the note was ever acknowledged.

On another occasion, during the staging of a bedroom scene, my co-star took umbrage with the level of intimacy being suggested between our characters. In a private rehearsal, Greg Beeman, our director, asked if she was willing to lower the straps of the top she was wearing and expose her bare shoulders only above the sheet that covered her, in order to give the visual impression she was in the same state of undress as me, as I was shirtless. My co-star refused Beeman’s request, and I was instantly aware of the tension on the set. I remember instinctively checking to make sure both my hands were visible to everyone who was there, as not to have my intentions or actions misconstrued. Despite Beeman’s clear description of what he was looking for visually, my co-star insisted she was, indeed, being asked to remove her top completely, and rehearsal was cut. She then demanded a meeting with Beeman and the producers who were on set and proceeded to have an intense and loud conversation in which she expressed she had never been so disrespected — as an actress, a woman or a human being.

Later, she found me and said she hoped the “discussion” could stay between us. I didn’t know how that was possible, given said “discussion” was had at elevated levels on a soundstage in front of the crew. Also, my co-star never once thought to include me, her scene partner, in any part of a “discussion,” in which I would have gladly participated. So I found the appeal to my sense of solidarity after the fact strange and somewhat hollow. Nonetheless, I assured her I was fine with getting the work done in any way she and Beeman could agree on. We completed the scene with the straps of my co-star’s top clearly visible, resolving the matter to what I believed was her satisfaction.

While that was my first episode, my co-star had been working on “Heroes” for over a month, and she’d shot another scene that called for Niki to seduce Nathan Petrelli, played by Adrian Pasdar. After watching the episode, I asked Pasdar if there had been any concerns similar to what I witnessed during my episode. He replied to the contrary, and mentioned her openness to collaboration and even improvisation. I pondered why my co-star had exuberantly played a different scene with the Petrelli character involving overt sexuality while wearing lingerie, but found aspects of one involving love and intimacy expressed through dialogue with my character, her husband, disrespectful to her core. I couldn’t help wondering whether race was a factor.

Upon arriving backstage at Radio City Music Hall for a rehearsal, I caught my co-star’s eye. “I’m hearing our cover is selling the least of all of them,” she told me. It was the first and only thing she said to me that night and I believed the subtext was clear: I was tarnishing her brand.

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Noah Gray-Cabey, Roberts, and Larter in Season 1, Episode 11 of “Heroes.”Courtesy NBC

The day after returning from upfronts, I received a call from Kring, my first ever. In a short voicemail message, he said that due to “the Ali Larter situation,” when the show returned for Season 2, audiences would learn that D.L. had died, and that I was free to call him if I wanted to talk. I was stunned.

I took a couple of days to cuss, mope and second guess, after which I decided to take Kring up on his offer, and set an appointment with him. When I arrived at his office, I was surprised to see that Dennis Hammer was there as well. Kring began by reiterating that because of my co-star, he just couldn’t make my remaining on the show work story-wise. I’m typically not one who refers to himself in the third person, but in that instance I felt compelled to channel my inner Alexander O’Neal and pointed out he fired Leonard Roberts, but only mentioned Leonard Roberts’ co-star as the reason for his firing, and that Leonard Roberts found that … curious.

Kring said he felt my character had been painted into a corner, due to the fact that “we” didn’t have “chemistry,” and that any attempt to create a new storyline for D.L. just felt like “the tail wagging the dog.” I replied that I found it interesting he had created a world where people flew, painted the future, bent time and space, read minds, erased minds and were indestructible, yet somehow the potential story solution of my character getting divorced left him utterly confounded. I also questioned how a “we” issue could be cited as justification for the firing of “me.”

You can read the remainder of the article by clicking here. 

As fans of the show we are written disheartened by this news. “Heroes” was one of our favorite series and to think that Leonard was fired due to racial issues is just plain wrong. This should have been Leonard’s big break but it seems like it nearly broke him.

Ali has come forward with an apology:

via TVLine

Actor Ali Larter responded on Wednesday to the account by her “Heroes” co-star Leonard Roberts — who, in a first-person essay for Variety published earlier in the day, said Larter mistreated him while working on the first season of the hit NBC series, eventually leading to his dismissal from the show. Roberts believes the fact he’s Black affected that decision.

In a statement to Variety‘s sibling publication TVLine, Larter said: “I am deeply saddened to hear about Leonard Roberts’ experience on Heroes and I am heartbroken reading his perception of our relationship, which absolutely doesn’t match my memory nor experience on the show. I respect Leonard as an artist and I applaud him or anyone using their voice and platform. I am truly sorry for any role I may have played in his painful experience during that time and I wish him and his family the very best.”

We hope somehow Leonard is vindicated and receives the acclaim and roles he deserves.

Celebrity News

DMX Reportedly in “Grave Condition” After Drug Overdose

It is being reported that rapper and actor, DMX, is now in “grave condition,” following a drug overdose which triggered a heart attack last night.

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It is being reported that rapper and actor, DMX, is now in “grave condition,” following a drug overdose which triggered a heart attack last night.

The fifty year old rapper was rushed to a White Plains, New York hospital, but the true state of his condition remains unknown as multiple reports are coming in that he is fighting for his life, or in a vegetative state after being declared brain dead. Neither his family or representatives has yet to release an official statement on his condition.

DMX drug overdose

DMX has battled drug addiction and substance abuse most of his life. In 2019, he canceled four tour dates to check into a rehab facility, apologizing to his fans for the disappointment. In multiple interviews, and most notably on OWN’s Iyanla Vanzant: Fix My Life,” the effects of said abuse has been disastrous to his family and marred his career and personal life. Still, the love and support from both celebrities and fans has been overwhelming, with many taking to social media.

Missy Elliot posted, “Prayers for DMX” on her Instagram account; with other rappers like Swizz Beatz and Rick Ross following suit. The former posted a sunset over the ocean, and the latter posting “Prayers up #DMX” with a video to an Instagram Story.

 

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Fans too have posted their well wishes, as well as their disbelief in his relapse: “Prayers to the real rough rider,” @bitchiwas999 posted with a picture of DMX at a concert, meanwhile @RasheedPanda tweeted, “The worst thing is that we all thought he had been sober this whole last year, he did songs and looked healthier and everything. Addiction ain’t no damn joke.”

As aforementioned this story is still unfolding. We will report back with new information as it becomes available and would like to send our own personal prayers up for DMX.

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Keyshia Cole Announces Retirement After Final Upcoming Album

Grammy-nominated artist Keyshia Cole is announcing her retirement from music after her final upcoming album.

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Grammy-nominated artist Keyshia Cole is announcing her retirement from music after her final upcoming album.

Keyshia made the announcement unexpectedly on Instagram when a fan stated she should feel like she is “sitting on top of the world” with the way her latest single, “I Don’t Want To Be In Love” has been received by fans, the hype around her recent “Versuz Battle” with fellow singer and rival, Ashanti,  and her upcoming album.

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The songstress, surprisingly, replied “I’m retiring. “When questioned on the seriousness of her response, she doubled down and stated, “I’m not lying.” Keyshia’s fans initially thought her account was being hacked, however she confirmed again she was retiring, but promised one more album. “I’m already contracted to do so, I wouldn’t do that to @BMG ,myself, or my fans,” she said of not releasing a record. “But I’m gonna have to move at my pace with this one. #Album8.” She goes on to cite her children as her reason for retirement, stating she wants to take a step back and jokes about leaving music altogether. “#StimnyHitsAccount RETIREMENT SOUNDS GOOD [crying laughing emoji] this is funny! Hella! Just thought I’d join in on the fun. I’m serious about retirement… [crossed fingers emoji] but this is funny [crying laughing emoji].” 

Fan reaction to Keyshia’s retirement announcement has bordered on the humorous side, with most questioning her others heckling her.

Keyshia Cole’s forthcoming album will be her eighth one. Besides her music, the singer has been hailed as one of the music industry’s last true R&B artists. She is also known as a family and anti-drug advocate as she showcases her roller coaster relationship with her birth family, including her older sister Neffeteria “Neffe” Pugh and her mother, Francine “Frankie” Lons, well documented on multiple reality television series and talk shows.

 

 

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WebLYFE Atlanta, Season 2, To Be Produced By “U Do TV!”

WebLYFE’s creator, casting director, producer, cast member and owner, Michael Jonvier, formerly known as “Hey Mikey,” has opted to switch to a new production company. WebLYFE Season 2 will now be produced and filmed by Atlanta based production company and new Roku Channel, U Do TV.

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WebLYFE Atlanta was one of the latest additions to the growing genre of LGBT Web Reality Series.

Like Chasing Atlanta, The Come Up Atlanta, and still others before it; the series attempted to show the lives of seven Atlanta based web series actors, content creators, and media personalities; Larry “Phylle” Carter, Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning, Carl “K $tarr” Levonzell, Lacie “Lacie Doll” Squire, Nikia “Freshie” Squire, and Brandon Karson Jordan; as they live, laugh, love and clash on the backdrop of Atlanta’s vibrant social scene. 

However, the first season was riddled with production issues, onset and behind the scenes as various cast members and producers clashed with one another and production. Although many viewers enjoyed the series and the cast; even more noted the poor production quality of the episodes (editing, lighting, camera movement, audio, etc.), not seeing the full scope of the cast’s work, and an imbalanced story line primarily centered on two cast members that was pushed throughout the season. This is a far cry from the original balanced vision of an ensemble cast the show’s creator clearly expressed and expected. 

WebLYFE’s creator, casting director, producer, cast member and owner, Michael Jonvier, formerly known as “Hey Mikey,” has opted to switch to a new production company. WebLYFE Season 2 will now be produced and filmed by Atlanta based production company and new Roku Channel, U Do TV.

Together with the CEO of U Do TV, Maurice Ravennah, Michael will co-executive produce the new season, in collaboration with his own new media company Michael Jonvier Media, LLC. Project Management Company, Forever Dope Management, headed by Ebony Shinelle, will assist with show production and operations, while Kontrol Magazine will act as a major sponsor. “We’ve worked with Michael for a decade, and with our two brands merging, this is the perfect marriage. WebLYFE has been a dream of his for years, even when he was intially naming it ‘Web Stars of Atlanta’ and we are happy to help however we are needed. We got his back!” Julian Lark, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Kontrol Magazine tells us.

 

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Additionally coming on board are returning cast members Carl Levonzell, Lacie Doll, Freshie, and Larry Carter. “This show is my brainchild and I wanted a reality series that was balanced. Yes, you have the drama, but you need to also see people working through their issues, finding solutions, and for sure showcasing their work. I’m blessed to call some of the most creative minds in the city [Atlanta] my friends and colleagues. Season 2 is going to be my vision–what it should have been all along.” When asked where Michael stands with the former production, OutPour Media Productions LGBTQ, he simply states, “I wish them the best. My interaction with their executive producer, solely, taught me to research people thoroughly before working with them; and that you can never see your vision come to fruition in the hands of someone else. Nevertheless, I wish them the best.”

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 In the second season you will also see two new faces soon to be announced! Michael and Maurice both state they want well rounded people who have never been on a reality television with a story and work that will really make people take notice. “Atlanta is full of talented people, but we are looking for individuals who are making moves in their fields as well as have the personality and wherewithal to deal with reality television…We are excited to partner with Michael on this and are more than prepared to deliver an amazing second season.” Maurice adds. 

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Season 2 of WebLYFE Atlanta will begin filming in April. For media inquiries please contact info@udo.work.

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