Nevermind all the rumors and speculations, it has been reported that G-Unit is a few steps away from entering an agreement with Def Jam. 50’s business partner, Sha Money XL has been appointed senior VP of A&R at Def Jam Records. Money XL is in the process of bringing G-Unit along with him. For the longest, we been hearing about Def Jam wanting to sign Lloyd Banks. A major announcement should be made soon.
Daily Archives: April 30, 2010
Sheila Johnson is using her riches from launching BET to raise awareness of the capital’s AIDS crisis with a new documentary. The billionaire talks to Lloyd Grove about the pandemic, why she’s “ashamed” of BET now, and how politics disillusioned her.
Black Entertainment Television, which Sheila Crump Johnson and her husband Bob started three decades ago with $15,000 in seed money and a $500,000 investment from media mogul John Malone, made her one of wealthiest women in America.
When Viacom bought them out in 2000, Sheila and Bob pocketed $1.3 billion—making them, pre-Oprah, the nation’s first African-American billionaires.
So today she must be extremely proud of her baby, right?
“Don’t even get me started,” says the 60-year-old Johnson, who has since divorced and remarried (charmingly enough, to the Virginia circuit court judge who presided over her divorce). “I don’t watch it. I suggest to my kids [a twentysomething daughter and a college-age son] that they don’t watch it… I’m ashamed of it, if you want to know the truth.”
“Society and government really believe [the AIDS] problem has gone away. People don’t know that this disease is still around.”
Johnson—who was at the Tribeca Film Festival this week for the premiere of The Other City, a searing, but ultimately hopeful documentary she produced about the AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C.—says BET is making matters worse, and potentially contributing to the spread of AIDS, by promoting promiscuous, unprotected sex in raunchy late-night rap videos.
It wasn’t always that way. “When we started BET, it was going to be the Ebony magazine on television,” Johnson tells me. “We had public affairs programming. We had news… I had a show called Teen Summit, we had a large variety of programming, but the problem is that then the video revolution started up… And then something started happening, and I didn’t like it at all. And I remember during those days we would sit up and watch these videos and decide which ones were going on and which ones were not. We got a lot of backlash from recording artists…and we had to start showing them. I didn’t like the way women were being portrayed in these videos.”
Johnson says she no longer has any connection with BET. “I just really wish—and not just BET but a lot of television programming—that they would stop lowering the bar so far just so they can get eyeballs to the screen,” she says. “I know they think that’s what’s going to keep programming on the air; that’s what’s going to sell advertising. But there has got to be some responsibility. Somebody has got to take this over. Because with all the studies that are out there, this is contributing to an atmosphere of free sex, ‘I don’t have to protect myself anymore.’”
The film—financed largely by Johnson and directed by Susan Koch (who also directed Kicking It, a documentary about homeless soccer players, one of Johnson’s previous Tribeca entries)—starts with the shocking revelation that in the nation’s capital, at a time when most of us have been led to believe that AIDS has been contained, fully 3 percent of the population is HIV-positive.
“It is pandemic,” she tells me. “And now that the movie has come out we’re starting to hear from other cities that they’re having the same problems. Our goal is to take this movie across the country so that other cities start looking at themselves a little harder… Society and government really believe this problem has gone away. People don’t know that this disease is still around.”
Johnson, a philanthropist who has traveled the world as global ambassador for the humanitarian organization CARE, says she was gripped by HIV as a subject “because it is disproportionately affecting women. There are the problems of gender-based violence, and women giving birth to babies and losing their children at a rapid rate because they have AIDS. We’ve got the same problems right here in the District of Columbia as they do in Africa. The sexy thing to do is to be able to travel afar and hold babies in our arms. [Hello, Madonna and Angelina Jolie!] I’m not demeaning that at all, but we have got our own problems, I just decided we need to come home and focus on our problems, because they’re getting worse here in our own country.”
The R.E.D. Album will be in stores and online June 15th
During an interview, Compton rapper Game confirmed that He’s still waiting on Dr. Dre’s confirmation to executive producer his new album, as of now, Pharrell has the title on his own.
“When we talk, it’s just life check up. It was never about music. Until the day came where he’d ask if I wanna work, or ‘Let’s get into the studio’, it wasn’t for me to bring up,” Game said. It was reported by MTV that Dre would executive produce Game’s upcoming LP alongside Pharrell, but when we spoke with the rapper last week, he said Pharrell has the title all on his own. Still waiting for confirmation on this. Dr. Dre, however, is confirmed for a guest spot on the album, but it’s still unknown how many, or if, he’ll have any production credits. Stay tuned… (Baller Status)