Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith launch media venture

LOS ANGELES — Jada Pinkett Smith and Philly’s own Will Smith are looking to expand their brands under a new corporate umbrella.

The Hollywood power couple on Wednesday announced the launch of a new media venture.

According to a statement, Westbrook Inc. will be a cross-platform holding company “formed to execute the Smith family’s global content and commerce business strategy.”

In a statement, the couple said Westbrook’s mission is “to spread positive ideas, art and products that entertain and empower the greatest number of lives.”

Westbrook Studios will serve as the studio home to all new premium TV and motion picture projects. It currently serves “Red Table Talk,” the Facebook Watch series featuring Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris.

The company will also develop projects as starring vehicles for Will Smith.

Many defend casting of Halle Bailey in ‘Little Mermaid’

The original Ariel is reportedly defending the casting of Halle Bailey in the new “Little Mermaid.”

Backlash over the Black singer being chosen to portray Ariel in the live action version of the hit 1989 Disney animated film culminated last week in #NotMyAriel on Twitter.

One person tweeted that the casting was not in keeping with the original version of a white, redheaded mermaid.

It’s not a movie about mermaids ... it’s about the 1989 Disney movie based on the story “The Little Mermaid” Written by Hans Christian Andersen where he describes white skin as blue eyes,” the tweet read. “Ariel is from DENMARK ... Nordic ... #NotMyAriel #Itisnotinclusive.”

On Sunday, Freeform, a Disney-owned TV network, took to Instagram for a take down of those complaining pointing that it’s an animated character and even if Ariel is Danish “Danish mermaids can be Black because Danish peoplecan be Black.”

NBC’s Lester Holt to get Walter Cronkite journalism award

PHOENIX — Arizona State University is awarding its 2019 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism to Lester Holt, news anchor for NBC.

Holt has anchored NBC’s flagship “Nightly News” broadcast since 2015, following eight years as anchor of the newscast’s weekend edition and 12 years as co-anchor of “Weekend Today.”

The university’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced Tuesday that Holt will receive the award Nov. 4 in Phoenix.

Cronkite dean Christopher Callahan called Holt “a fantastic role model for our students and all journalists for his insightful, caring, fact-based journalism and stories that focus on the impact of major news events on everyday Americans.”

The school was named in Cronkite’s honor in 1984. The famed CBS News anchor died in 2009.

Kanye West says he is no longer in debt

Remember when Kanye West was tweeting at Mark Zuckerberg to borrow $1 billion?

Now, West is laughing about it.

He landed the cover of Forbes, which estimates the musician and designer’s “pretax income at $150 million over the past 12 months.”

The report says West’s team “insists the number is even higher,” mostly due to his Yeezy sneakers and his Yeezy clothing line.

In 2016, West said he was $53 million in debt when he had asked Zuckerberg for $1 billion to help fund his creative ideas.

Next came an ambitious tour, then a partnership with Nike in 2009 and an Air Yeezy II sneaker release in 2012.

Celebrities demand A$AP Rocky’s prison release

A group of celebs have joined a growing cry for rapper A$AP Rocky to be released from a Swedish prison.

He was recently detained in Stockholm after being accused of serious assault, according to CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen.

A Change.org petition seeking his release had more than 330,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

“On Sunday, June 30th, A$AP Rocky, his bodyguard and two performers from his show acted in self-defense after two men followed, harassed and physically assaulted them in Stockholm,” the petition reads. “Video footage shows the assailants following Rocky and his colleagues, even cutting off where they are trying to walk sometimes, while Rocky pleads to them that he does not want any issues.”

Several high profile celebrities including musical artists Post Malone and Shawn Mendes and actress Jada Pinkett Smith have thrown their support behind the petition using the hashtag “JusticeForRocky.”

—Compiled from Tribune News Services

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