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Netflix premieres movie about Columbus native, ‘The Mother of Blues’ Ma Rainey

A long anticipated Netflix film that focuses on Ma Rainey, a Columbus native who grew up to become The Mother of Blues.

‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ which stars Viola Davis as Rainey and Chadwick Boseman in his final role, is based on August Wilson’s award-winning play of the same name.

The play is a fictionalized portrayal of the recording of Rainey’s song of the same name and part of Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of ten plays that tell the stories of African Americans throughout each decade of the 1900s.

Ma Rainey was born as Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus in the 1880s before becoming a pioneer in the world of music and ultimately returning to her hometown to run several theatres

Netflix describes the R-rated, 94 minute film as cerebral and emotional with a synopsis that reads,

Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless Blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session.

Being released alongside the film is a documentary called ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: A Legacy Brought to Screen’ which features famed actors, actresses and filmmakers describing the process of bringing the timeless play to life on the big screen. More at WTVM.


Hi-Rez Studios Reveals Competitive Map Updates, New Characters For its Esports Titles

Georgia-based game developer Hi-Rez Studios revealed several major content updates for its three competitive esports titles Rogue Company, SMITE, and Paladins.

Rogue Company is the newest Hi-Rez title, having launched last year and amassing 15M players since its release. New content will be rolled out during 2021 across four seasons featuring new playable characters, maps, and events. While the hero shooter does not have an official esports structure on par with SMITE or Paladins yet, Hi-Rez is actively monitoring the game’s esports potential as players and organizers explore through various independent tournaments.

According to a release, Paladins has surpassed 45M players, and the game will be receiving significant content updates during 2021. Among these will be the release of Yagorath, a character that has been teased in the game’s lore for the last several years, as well as new limited-time events that drastically change up how the game is played. Additionally, several of Paladins’ competitive maps will receive updates aimed at addressing imbalances in character selection.

SMITE will see an even more substantial overhaul to its competitive map, which will align with the year’s theme, Dawn of Babylon. The campaign will introduce the Babylonian pantheon to the mythical-deity-themed MOBA and will be the first substantial change to the primary map used in esports competition in three years. See more here.


Morris Brown Receives $160K Gift To Establish ESports Center

Things have been looking up for Morris Brown College amid its journey to re-accreditation. A leading Black gaming technology organization just gifted the school with enough funds to get an eSports program started!

Pharaoh’s Conclave (PCX), Georgia’s leading organization for diversity and inclusion in competitive video gaming, and the Thomas Family Fund are proud to announce a contribution of $160,000 to Morris Brown College in honor and memory of the family patriarch, Ronald Floyd Thomas (MBC 2002). The gift was designated to establish the Ronald Floyd Thomas Center for eSports and Innovation. The Morris Brown College Board of Trustees unanimously approved the decision to establish the center in October 2020.

Jakita O. Thomas, Ph.D. and Erich Thomas founded Pharaoh’s Conclave (PCX) in 2017. PCX is a company that uses education and exposure to video gaming to address diversity and inclusion in the technology industry by leveraging eSports. They created the first high school state eSports championship in the United States, which they featured at DreamHack, the world’s largest gaming lifestyle festival. Through PCX, the Thomases have exposed over 10,000 children across the country to eSports. They have awarded over $30,000 in college scholarships and guided youth and young adults in becoming eSports professionals. Their work in technology has most recently received non-dilutive funding of $100,000 from Google for Startups and financial support from the Stadium Neighborhood Community Trust. See more here.


Film industry should be part of Florida’s economic recovery, Commentary

In a commentary submission dated Dec. 28 (”Corporate welfare, state bailouts won’t fix economy”), Skylar Zander of the special-interest group Americans for Prosperity-Florida made a number of statements about Florida’s film, television and digital media industry, continuing to focus on the past instead of looking toward Florida’s future.

Zander references an old incentive program that ended in 2016. The group failed to mention that our industry has not advocated for that program for many years, and instead supports a targeted rebate program that benefits the state and the taxpayers of Florida.

The author references the state’s upcoming budget shortfall, which is a very important point, but they offer no solutions. Film Florida continues to advocate for a program that’s performance based and designed to produce an excellent return on investment, ensuring the state receives more than $1 of tax revenues for every $1 in rebates provided. Florida would actually make money from the program, which would increase state tax revenues without raising taxes.

The author incorrectly said the film, television and digital media industry claimed to be the “cure” for Florida’s post COVID-19 economic recovery. But we do believe the film and television industry can and should be a part of Florida’s economic recovery moving forward, continuing to diversify the state’s economy while supporting high-wage, high-tech jobs.

When an average feature film or television series films in a location, they spend $20 million in the local community while hiring 1,500 Floridians. One single production can put $150,000 per day directly in the pockets of citizens and small businesses. This also generates significant local and state tax revenues — with the state earning more in direct revenue than it would eventually rebate to the production. A targeted rebate program will make money for the state, employ many at far-above-average salaries, and create products that attract tourists to Florida.

Florida is the only state in the Southeast without a program to compete for film and television projects, which puts us at a major competitive disadvantage. Our regional neighbors included the film and television industry as part of their post COVID-19 economic recovery.

See more here.