The Sixth Annual Merge Summit Brings in Hundreds from Across the Country

Acting Panel (L-R): Hosea Chanchez, Nate Parker, Robi Reed, Dr. Holly Carter, Common, Bre’ly Evans, Traci Blackwell, Charles Michael Davis, Brandon T. Jackson

Merge/PR — Beverly Hills, CA — The Sixth Annual Merge Summit was held August 21-23, 2014 at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.  This one of a kind event integrates faith and entertainment providing an opportunity for men and women of faith to interface, learn and partner with leading executives and talent in the entertainment industry.  Nearly 75 of the industry’s top entertainers and executives led more than 20 interactive panel discussions, workshops and Master Class sessions covering music, television, film, creative development, branding and new media.  The Summit, co-founded by Dr. Holly Carter and Robi Reed, chaired by Traci Blackwell, was presented in association with Walgreens, Wellness Interactive, Inc. and Entertainment One.

Celebrity and notable participants included Anthony Anderson (ABC’s “Black-ish”), Laurence Fishburne(ABC’s “Black-ish”), Tracee Ellis Ross (ABC’s “Black-ish”), Meagan Good (“Think Like A Man Too”),DeVon Franklin (SVP of Production, Columbia Pictures), Boris Kodjoe (BET’s “Real Husbands of Hollywood”), Common (Rapper/Actor), Lala Anthony (“Think Like A Man Too”), Terrence Jenkins (E! News), Michelle Williams (Singer/Actress), Pastor Paula White (Paula White Ministries, Orlando),Erica Campbell (Mary Mary), Brandon T. Jackson (“Tropic Thunder”), Derek Luke (“Baggage Claim”),Clint Culpepper (President, Screen Gems), LisaRaye (VH1’s “Single Ladies”), Mikki Taylor (Essence Magazine), Dondre Whitfield (ABC’s “Mistresses”), Yvette Nicole Brown (NBC’s “Community”),Sheilah Belle (The Belle Report), Jonathan Butler (musician), Bishop Charles E. Blake (West Angeles Church of God In Christ), Lynn Whitfield (Emmy Award-winning Actress), Suzanne de Passe (de Passe Jones Entertainment), Hosea Chanchez (BET’s “The Game”), Fonzworth Bentley (BET’s “Lift Every Voice”), Harry J. Lennix (NBC’s “The Blacklist”), Mali Music (RCA Records recording artist), Bishop Lester Love (The City of Love Church, New Orleans), Edwina Findley (Tyler Perry’s “If Loving You Is Wrong”), Bre’ly Evans (actress/comedian), and the cast of Oxygen’s “Preachers of L.A.,” among others.

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Magic Johnson, Angela Bassett among first ‘Arsenio Hall Show’ guests

Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson and Angela Bassett are among the big names who will join Arsenio Hall during the first week of his new show, The Arsenio Hall Show.

“My first week of guests offers a taste of pop culture and represents the mix of talent I hope to have on my show every week,” Hall said.

Hall will host a mix of athletes, celebrities, actors and musicians during the new late night show.

Nas, Mac Miller, Earth, Wind & Fire and Emblem3 are the musical guests set to perform during the show’s first week.

During September Paula Patton, Djimon Hounsou, Seth Green, Russell Simmons, Big Sean and 2 Chainz will appear on the new talk show.

“I am honored to welcome friends, both old and new, to my show,” Hall said.  ”My goal is to have fun, make people laugh, and send viewers to bed with a smile on their face.”

The show premieres nationwide September 9.

Congratulations to Kim Fields on her New Coming Baby Boy

The celebrity babies just keep on coming.

Kim Fields, 44, and husband, Christopher Morgan, 37, are expecting their second child in early December. Fields made the announcement on The Real, revealing her pregnant tummy to host and viewers.

She told the five co-hosts, “Sebastian and Christopher are very excited. We’re very, very blessed,” she says. “It was planned. We’ve actually been trying for a couple years. We were pregnant twice and miscarried. Chris and I were very blessed to really have one another, to have our family and friends and our God to really get us through that.”

The couple have already named their new baby boy, Quincy Xavier, who will be welcomed by the couples 6-year-old son Sebastian Alexander.

Congratulations to Kim Fields and family.

Beyonce On Pepsi Criticism: ‘It’s All About Choices’

beyonce pepsiBeyonce on the cover of Flaunt magazine. (Image: Flaunt magazine)

Beyonce Knowles Carter was a big part of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fitness campaign, a decision that would later be called into question when the singer signed a complex, $50 million promotional deal with Pepsi.

Like Coca-Cola, Pepsi has long been criticized for targeting children (and adults) with sugary drinks that, when consumed in excess, have negative effects on long-term health. In a new interview with Flaunt, Beyonce soft-handles the idea that her involvement with both the First Lady’s plan and Pepsi constitutes blatant hypocrisy:

Some were critical at your participating in a Pepsi campaign after you moved your body for childhood obesity. Where is the balance between your career objectives and your philanthropy? Pepsi is a brand I’ve grown up seeing my heroes collaborate with. The company respects musicians and artistry. I wouldn’t encourage any person, especially a child, to live life without balance.

“Knowles is renting her image to a product that may one day be ranked with cigarettes as a killer we were too slow to rein in,” Mark Bittman wrote in the New York Times. “From saying, as she once did in referring to Let’s Move, that she was ‘excited to be part of this effort that addresses a public health crisis,’ she’s become part of an effort that promotes a public health crisis.”

Beyonce’s deal includes not only traditional ad spots, but also gives the company a stake in her art. By funding certain creative endeavors, Pepsi opens new investment avenues, while the singer is freed from worrying about finding the cash to support her projects. Jay-Z’s Samsung deal may or may not have been similar on paper, but that the rapper’s album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” went platinum upon its release because the tech giant purchased 1 million copies to dole out to app users for free seems to align with the idea behind the Pepsi deal. (Beyonce and Jay-Z were 2012’s highest-paid celebrity couple.)

Beyonce’s biggest projects with Pepsi to date have been her “Mirrors” commercial, in which the singer debuted a new song, “Grown Woman,” and the Super Bowl halftime show, which the beverage company sponsored. Beyonce also has a massive deal with H&M and premiered “Standing in the Sun” in an ad for the clothing chain.