Can’t Stop Watching: ‘Scandal’ Casts Olivia Pope’s Mom, Ruben Studdard Exits ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Fantasia Shines on Broadway & More

by | November 6, 2013 at 4:30 PM | Black Entertainment, Can't Stop Watching, Scandal, The Biggest Loser

Khandi Alexander (Photo: Getty)

Well, well, well,  ABC’s “Scandal” has cast Khandi Alexander as Olivia Pope’s mother, Maya Lewis. This news was quite unexpected. Many people, myself included, had been wagering to see who would be cast in the much-talked about role. Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Jenifer Lewis, Cicely Tyson and Diahann Carroll were some of the names mentioned. Even Joe Morton, who plays Olivia’s dad, Rowan/Eli, named “The Cosby Show” mother as his choice during an Essence.com interview. That obviously was a decoy, LOL. I like that showrunner Shonda Rhimes isn’t going with the usual suspects, instead casting other talented actors like Morton and Alexander on the show. Alexander, 56, starred on HBO’s “The Corner,” CBS’s “CSI: Miami” from 2002 to2009 and currently stars on HBO’s “Treme,” a show I plan to binge on before its final season begins Dec. 1. One of the first images to come to mind when I think of Alexander is her role as an Ikette in 1993′s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” And I always thought if a Pointer Sisters biopic were to be made, she should be cast as June Pointer, my favorite sister. Last week’s “Scandal” episode pointed to Liv’s on-off lover President Fitzgerald Grant possibly shooting down the airplane that her mom was on, killing her (Five dollars says she’s still alive). Alexander is set to debut as Mama Pope in tomorrow’s episode, presumably in flashback sequences. It airs Thursday at 10 p.m. EST on ABC.

More secrets are revealed about Olivia’s past in this recent “Scandal” episode

“American Idol” alum Ruben Studdard was sent packing on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” after a disappointing weigh-in. Studdard’s final weigh-in showed him at 423, nearly 40 pounds slimmer than the 462 pounds he weighed during the first episode. I was hoping he would’ve been able to stay longer as he seemed very motivated and grateful for the opportunity. I hope he keeps it up off camera. Watch that episode and more here. In other news, President Barack Obama’s going to host a screening of the Nelson Mandela biopic, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” Thursday at the White House. Idris Elba, who stars as the jailed former South African leader, and Naomie Harris, who plays ex-wife Winnie Mandela, will be present along with members of the Mandela family. Nice. I will say this much, this screening sure beats President Woodrow Wilson reportedly showing several screenings of  “The Birth of a Nation” at the White House. Yes, this is much better than that. Read more here. While we’re hanging out in the early 20th century, Fantasia Barrino is getting rave reviews for her performance in Broadway’s “After Midnight,” a Jazz Age musical based on Harlem’s famed Cotton Club. The 2004 “American Idol” winner sparkled as she chatted with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on NBC’s “Today” show about  channeling Billie Holiday, Josephine Baker and Ella Fitzgerald for this role.  Her co-star Dule Hill, known for roles on USA’s “Psych” and “The West Wing,” was also there and tap danced (who knew!) while she scatted. Fannie has come a long way and I’m just happy for her, truly. She has a great voice and it’s wonderful she was able to work on this project. Watch it here. And if you want to learn a bit more about the Cotton Club, check out Francis Ford Coppola’s 1984 film ‘The Cotton Club” starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. You can see that here.

On my watchlist tonight? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand with…
“American Horror Story: Coven”: The promo for tonight’s episode showed someone burning at the stake! It airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST on FX. [Watch here]
“Revolution”: I have one more episode left before I’m caught up. It airs tonight at 8 p.m. EST on NBC. [Watch here]

The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: “12 Years a Slave” star Lupita Nyong’o named as one of “The Hollywood Reporter’s” “5 Rising Stars to Watch” (Girlfriend is beautiful and gives a good performance in “12 Years.”).
NOT: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack in a “drunken stupor” (…).

HOT: Iyanla Vanzant has a beautiful, healthy relationship with a loving man (yes, he’s a brother, lol, as she noted on “The Wendy Williams Show” recently.).
NOT: A missing Mississippi family—Atira Hill-Smith, Laterry Smith and their son Jaidon Hill—found dead (We all were hoping they’d be found alive.).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.