/ 8 March 2016

Rows, racism and couples’ comings and goings in celeb world

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.
Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone.

The Zoe Saldana-as-Nina Simone saga is in the news again following the release of the Nina Simone biopic trailer. Saldana, who wears a prosthetic nose and dark make-up in the film, was accused of donning a blackface to play a role she is “unsuited for” considering the centrality of Simone’s appearance to her art and struggle.

In the middle of the furore Saldana posted a tweet, seemingly in her defence saying:

The response from Simone’s estate was brutal, with the reply, allegedly sent by Simone’s daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, saying:

But since then, Stroud has said it is not Saldana who should shoulder the blame for the project, according to Time magazine: “It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture. It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

By “lies” Stroud is referring to a storyline in the movie that apparently manufactures an intimate relationship between Simone and her assistant, Clifton Henderson.

Nomisupasta fires warning shots in new song

Nomsa Mazwai tells racists to back off in new download single. (Eloy Alonso/ Reuters)

Activist and singer Nomisupasta’s Musukungsukela, a collaboration with Vanco, joins the list of artistic interventions in response to the various racist provocations that ushered in 2016, not least Penny Sparrow’s comments about cute littering monkeys.

The Afrohouse track includes as mix of sung vocals and spoken word elements addressing the racists and South Africa’s unfinished decolonisation business. “Rainbow nation? No, I don’t believe in it because it still divides us based on colour,” she says.

The single can be downloaded on the artist’s website by clicking on a butterfly. And remember: “You don’t have to come to the beach if you don’t want to.” Don’t start none!

Pearl Thusi leaves Live Amp and other SABC gigs

D’Banj and Pearl Thusi are the new co-hosts of Lip Sync Battle Africa. (Gallo Images)

Radio and TV presenter Pearl Thusi has allegedly been barred from her radio and television shows after signing up to do an international show to be aired on e.tv, MTV and MTV Base. Thusi, who resigned from her gig as the co-host of SABC1 flagship music show Live Amp, is, according to the Sunday World, set to lose her spot on SABC drama Isidingo.

Thusi will host Lip Sync Battle Africa with Nigerian superstar D’Banj. In meetings between SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Thusi, he informed her that she could not work for rival stations without seeking permission.

On Saturday, Thusi was absent from the station’s popular The Real Phat that she co-hosts. Thusi was also allegedly banned from her Metro FM Sunday show The Blackout.

… And goes to Lip Sync Battle Africa

United States actor Channing Tatum surprised TV audiences in January when he dressed up as singer Beyoncé for a memorable performance of Run the World on the international singing TV show Lip Sync Battle. African entertainers will now get the opportunity to perform some of their favourite songs on MTV Base’s upcoming local take on the show, Lip Sync Battle Africa.

“We wanted to bring the format to African audiences to be able to see their celebrities on TV. Imagine your favourite rapper singing Madonna’s Like a Virgin,” MTV channel director Dillon Khan told the Mail & Guardian.

The channel also revealed the hosts of Lip Sync Battle Africa in Jo’burg on March 3 –D’banj and Thusi (Above).

Each episode will feature two celebrities performing two songs, one African and the other international. The celebrity with the best performance wins the battle.

“What is exciting about the show is that it’s one of those shows you can watch with your entire family,” said Khan.

The show is in the pre-production stage and will be shot in Jo’burg. To be a part of a live show, upload a video of yourself on Twitter with the #LSBChallenge and you could receive an invitation to be a part of the audience during a live recording.

New couples alert!

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom appear inseparable. (Instagram)

Pop singer Katy Perry and actor Orlando Bloom are the new couple on the block. The pair was spotted together on March 5 at Heathrow, London. According to the Daily Mail “the lovebirds seemed less fazed about being pictured together” at the airport. They have been dating for about two months.

Perry was previously married to English comedian Russell Brand and Bloom was to model Miranda Kerr.

Another surprising hook-up on the entertainment scene are United Kingdom singers Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (32) and Liam Payne (22). The Former Girls Aloud member seems to have found love in the arms of the One Direction member. The couple has been open about their relationship. The lovebirds were recently seen on a date in London’s Mayfair and have also shared snaps of each other on Instagram.