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Planned Black Community in Georgia Draws Interest for a Reality TV Show

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Ashley Scott, a realtor who is now the Freedom Georgia Initiative's vice president. (Image via Freedom Georgia Initiative)
Ashley Scott, a realtor who is now the Freedom Georgia Initiative's vice president. (Image via Freedom Georgia Initiative)

Nearly 100 acres of land just east of Macon in rural Wilkinson County, Georgia, lays the future home and safe-haven for Black families. Ashley Scott, a real estate agent and her friend, investor and entrepreneur Renee Walters, didn’t initially plan on this ambitious project. As they moved forward with their vision, it sparked interest in a reality TV show.

What We Know:

  • News broke out last week of nearly 20 families in Georgia who created a pool of money to purchase land in a Georgia town. Scott made it clear that the goal is to create a safe-haven community for Black people. This idea quickly gathered widespread attention, including interest from big names in the entertainment industry to develop a reality TV.

  • According to TMZ, there have been several production companies that have been linked to Lifetime, A&E, Oxygen, and HGTV which showed interest in producing the series. As of late, the only details about the series are that it will be based on the future community dubbed Freedom, Georgia.
  • This hard-working group of families, led by Scott and Walters, bought around 97 acres of land in Toomsboro, Georgia, a rural town of about 500 people, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates. The location is just two hours south of the city of Atlanta.

“Being able to create a community that is thriving, that is safe, that has agriculture and commercial businesses that are supporting one another and that dollars circulating in our community, that is our vision,” stated Scott.

  • As far as the series is concerned, nothing has been set in stone. A concrete outline and timeline for both the TV and community project have not been revealed. However, it has been reported that members of the community project will have input before agreeing on the production of the series. They will have complete ownership of the footage and approval after the editing process.
  • The slight control members will have on the production of the show is to help keep the narrative straight and avoid it straying from a positive light. With so much awareness raised on this South Georgia project, the community has already established a website, “The Freedom Georgia Initiative,” which gives more insight into their plans. The birth of the community was attributed to the “racial trauma, a global pandemic, and economic instabilities” that Black Americans have endured not only now, but for years.

The website shows the growing initiative, messages, and partners that have already teamed up to help make this dream a reality. The goal of Freedom, GA will be to create “an innovative community for environmentally sustainable-living, health & wellness, agricultural & economic development, arts & culture for generations to come”.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is currently enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a bachelor's degree in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. Javier writes for Black News Alerts (BNA) along with social media management for both BNA and BossFM, and is a part of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Business

Quibi is Shutting Down

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Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)
Meg Whitman is without doubt one of the founders of Quibi. (Image via Robyn Beck / AFP)

You might have heard about Quibi, a short form mobile-focused streaming service, at some point this year, but you won’t be hearing from it anymore. Quibi recently announced it is closing house after only six months of operation, making it one of the shortest-lived streaming services to date. The announcement came from a Medium post.

What We Know:

  • The post by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman said, “We feel that we’ve exhausted all our options. As a result, we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace.”
  • Several factors could have gone into the platforms of premature death, but one stands out the most. The new streaming service was mobile-only, and it was already at a disadvantage compared to other services. During a pandemic such as this, everyone at home seemed to choose other services as Quibi didn’t offer enough to tempt subscribers. With many free platforms such as Youtube and Tik-Tok, the new service fell flat in an already saturated market.
  • Quibi has stated that much of the failure to launch off the ground was with itself and the idea “wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing”. The company said they will notify what subscribers they did have of the final time they can access the service.
  • Quibi marketed a seemingly resilient and well cast original programing before and after the shutdown. In an effort to save that work, Katzenberg reached out to Apple, WarnerMedia, and Facebook to acquire them, but to no avail. When that plan failed, Katzenberg attempted to get Facebook and NBCUniversal to at least pick up its content, again with no success.
  • The streaming service officially launched on April 6th earlier this year with two plans to choose from: $4.99 a month (ads) or $7.99 a month (ad-free). The mobile-only gimmick was an attempt to separate itself from its competitors. They even threw in an interesting system where all their content was produced to accommodate portrait and landscape formats for a unique viewing experience. Aside from a free trial, there was no free option and TV apps weren’t released until this week for platforms such as Apple, Android, and Fire TV.
  • It was reported that both Katzenberg and Whitman raised a whopping $1.75 billion in order to create Quibi, but having money doesn’t always equal success. Despite promising content, which even landed them two Emmy wins, the subscriber base which helps a streaming service run, left as fast as it came.

Sensor Tower, an app tracking firm, reported that Quibi allegedly lost about 90 percent of its subscribers after the three-month free trial promotion in July. After the trial ended, the platform’s users dropped from 900,000 to only 72,000 that stuck around and became paid members. Quibi has argued those figures are incorrect but have yet to release actual statistics.

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Samuel L. Jackson and His Daughter Preparing Gang Docuseries ‘Life on the Edge’

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Samuel L. Jackson in "Enslaved.” (Image via Associated Producers Ltd.)

The entertainment industry, crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, continues to push on with many producers fighting through and moving forward with projects. A familiar duo is set to make a brand new series in the near future. Samuel L. Jackson and his producer daughter Zoe Jackson plan on making a docuseries about marginalized communities and gang culture.

What We Know:

  • The well-known Hollywood star and his daughter, who has had her hands on series such as Project Runway and Top Chef as a producer, is partnering with Los Angeles-headquartered Ample Entertainment, producer of Facebook Watch series 9 Months with Courteney Cox, on Life on the Edge.
  • According to Deadline, the production team for the series will use Deepfake technology, an increasingly popular synthetic media where an editor can take a person or object in any existing photograph or video and replace it with someone else’s likeness. This technique of manipulating media has seen an uptick of use in the past two years, considering it’s greater accessability and experimentation. You can currently see Deepfake in action in memes, pornography, fake news, other hoaxes, and even financial fraud.
Deepfake example of a viral clip of Jennifer Lawrence with Steve Buscemi’s face. (Courtesy of MobyGeek)

Deepfake example of a viral clip of Jennifer Lawrence with Steve Buscemi’s face. (Courtesy of MobyGeek)

  • The controversial use of Deepfake has even gotten the attention of the government and seeks to restrict the use of this technology. In the wrong hands, one could end up creating false media portraying a figure in a negative or positive light.
  • “At the most basic level, Deepfakes are lies disguised to look like truth,” states Andrea Hickerson, Director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of South Carolina. “If we take them as truth or evidence, we can easily make false conclusions with potentially disastrous consequences.”
  • As far as the series is concerned, Deepfake will be used to capture the daily routine of people that have had the misfortune of living in the shadow of some of the most notoriously violent groups in the world. It will focus on the struggles of those people and how they live their life anyway despite what is around them.

“No one has ever looked at these groups from a fresh perspective – from the inside out. These are young people trying to find a place in a chaotic world up against extraordinary odds. I can’t think of stories more worthy of telling,” said Samuel and Zoe Jackson.

  • One of Jackson’s last projects, which was also a docuseries, was when he hosted and executive produced Enslaved for Epix. Enslaved looked at the history of roughly four centuries of human trafficking. As of late, there are no other details about the Life on the Edge project such as when production started or a release date.

“We could not be more excited for this partnership and the chance to skip the stereotypes and get real,” added Ample co-founder Ari Mark. The docuseries is expected to be short given the current trend of docuseries the past few years. Another detail that’s unclear at this time is whether this series will star on a network or streaming platform.

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Will Packer To Produce Podcast About Muhammad Ali Fight Night Heist

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Get ready for a new true-crime podcast. Will Packer will delve into the historic robbery after Muhammad Ali’s 1970 comeback fight.

What We Know:

  • The podcast will follow what happened on October 26th and 27th in 1970. Ali’s match against Jerry Quarry was his first bout after returning from his suspension over refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War. It would be his first fight in over three years.
  • Attendees of the fight were invited to a private afterparty. It was at this party where hundreds of guests were robbed at gunpoint, one of the largest armed robberies in modern history.
  • Will Packer produced the 2017 hit film Girls Trip. He will partner with iHeartMedia and Doghouse Pictures to produce “Fight Night”. The podcast was written by Jeff Keating and Jim Roberts and Keating will host the series with Dan Bush, Lars Jacobson, and Kenny Burns.

“This is the type of project that is perfect for the podcasting space: captivating, high stakes, suspenseful – all against the backdrop of a historic moment in the great Muhammad Ali’s career. True crime aficionados and those new to the genre will be enthralled by this piece.” – Will Packer

The series will premiere on October 26 – the 50th anniversary of the fight.

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