‘Questlove’ and Kevin Hart Help Build Outlets for Diverse Voices in Publishing and Entertainment

BROADENING AUDIENCES: As some companies and resources in the worlds of media, entertainment and publishing continue to strive for greater representation in their content and workforces, two additions were unveiled Wednesday.

MCD, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, has launched AUWA Books. The imprint will publish nonfiction and fiction with an emphasis on inspirational tales and forgotten voices. AUWA Books is “directed” by the multihyphenate talent Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson: drummer, film director, DJ, culinary entrepreneur, bestselling author, curator and historian.

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Revealing the news Tuesday, MCD noted that his interests are rooted in music and its history, but they extend “to cover nearly topic under the sun.” The name of the literary imprint is musically inspired, as in the bird-call noise that the late musician, who was known as Prince, featured in “Baby I’m a Star” and “Eye No.”

The need for greater diversity was clear in data released earlier this year by the analytics group WordsRated. Between 1950 and 2018, 95 percent of the published fiction books were written by white authors.

AUWA Books’ first release is slated for October — funk legend Sly Stone’s memoir “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).” The elusive lead singer of Sly & the Family Stone is a big get for the publisher.

In another major deal that was revealed Tuesday, comedian and Hartbeat founder Kevin Hart has joined with Samsung TV Plus to launch his LOL Network. Focused on creating diverse and relevant content, the network will highlight such talents as Keke Palmer, Nick Cannon and Tyler James Williams, among others. “Everybody Hates Chris,” “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” “Moesha,” “Sister, Sister,” “Urban Eats and Treats” and “Celebrity Snackdown” will be among the shows featured on the TV platform, which is free for some Samsung Smart TVs and Samsung Galaxy mobile devices.

Hart has built an entertainment business on different levels. Hartbeat has three divisions – Hartbeat Studios, which finances, develops and produces innovative content; Hartbeat Media, which connects with consumers through events and its distribution network, and Pulse, the company’s branded entertainment studio. Hartbeat’s flagship consumer brand, the LOL Network, reaches audiences across its O&O social media, audio and OTT partners.

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