Is ‘Swarm’ Based on a True Story? Here Are the Connections to Beyoncé and Real Murders

Is ‘Swarm’ Based on a True Story? Here Are the Connections to Beyoncé and Real Murders

This article contains spoilers for “Swarm.”

The first image of the debut episode of the serial killer series “Swarm” is a spin on classic Hollywood disclaimer language: “Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is intentional.”

It’s a provocative start to the kaleidoscopic pop culture satire, created by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover and starring Dominique Fishback as Dre, a woman so obsessed with pop singer Ni’Jah that she’d kill to defend her honor. Given the bloodshed and not-so-subtle parallels between Ni’Jah and the career and passionate fanbase of Beyoncé, it’s easy to believe there could have been a real-life cross-country serial killer murdering those who dare take Queen Bey’s name in vain. But what’s the reality behind the purported true story of “Swarm”?

The answer is…complicated. Before diving too deep, it’s important to note that at the end of the credits, there is a much more conventional title card removing “Swarm” from litigious vulnerability, reading, “While this story is inspired by certain actual events, it is a work of fiction. The characters and events portrayed are fictitious, and any similarity to or identification with the name, character, or history of any actual persons, living or dead, or any company, is entirely coincidental and unintentional.”

Plus, Nabers told Variety, “Everything is legally combed through. If we pushed it, we pushed it to the very, very, very edge, but it’s legal and we’re proud of that.”

But what are the “certain actual events”? It’s not hard to break down the many nods to Beyoncé throughout the series, which start with the titular fanbase of “Swarm” itself, which evokes the singer’s BeyHive faithful. Here are more of the similarities between Ni’Jah and Beyoncé:

  • The Ni’Jah visual album “Festival” is a nod to Beyoncé’s 2016 record “Lemonade”: a surprise release about her unfaithful husband.
  • Both artists are from Houston.
  • Ni’Jah is pregnant with twins, just like Beyoncé was in 2017.
  • Characters pit Ni’Jah against her sister, as Beyoncé is often compared to her sister and fellow recording artist Solange.
  • There is a reference to an incident where Ni’Jah stood to the side while her sister and husband fought, recalling the infamous elevator battle between Solange and Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z in 2014.
  • Dre gets overwhelmed by Ni’Jah and bites her, a nod to a story Tiffany Haddish told about Beyoncé being bitten at a party by a famous fan. The episode also pokes fun at an internet rumor that actor and director Sanaa Lathan was the guilty party (When the two cooks, lounging around on a smoke break spot Dre fleeing from the club, one says, “You know who that was? Chick from ‘Love & Basketball’”). Episode 4 begins with a spoof of Ellen DeGeneres’ interview with John Legend in which she grilled him about what he knew.
  • The Ni’Jah outfit in the finale is inspired by Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl dancers.

Despite those and many other subtle nods, the creative team has been careful to not name Beyoncé specifically. At the series’ Mar. 10 South by Southwest premiere, the moderator asked if a “pop star who shall not be named” had seen the show. Nabers said “of course,” but then a rep retracted her answer the next day, saying she doesn’t know who has seen the series and who hasn’t.

Elsewhere during the premiere, Nabers would only refer to Beyoncé as “a certain pop star,” even Chlöe Bailey, who co-stars in the series and counts Beyoncé as a mentor, was cagey, telling Variety when asked whether she’s seen the show, “You’ll have to ask her that. I can’t speak for her.” The closest Glover came to actual confirmation was at the Los Angeles screening, quipping about the show’s reaction: “Beyhive, don’t kill us.”

As for the murders? As Variety reported, Nabers says that “every episode, with the exception of Episode 4, has a true foundation for its murder.” Speaking about Dre’s murder of her girlfriend Rashida (Kiersey Clemons), she said, “We found a murder in 2018 that took place in the outskirts of Georgia with a young woman that was brutally killed and discarded in some sort of kind of like desert, woodsy area. That was a white woman, but we did our own thing. All of that is based on real situations.”

Nabers also spoke at the SXSW premiere about a grim story that kicked off the idea for the series.

“In Texas, there was a rumor that a girl named Marissa Jackson killed herself because she realized that a certain pop star was being cheated on by her husband,” she said. “And my very best friend’s last name is Jackson. So there was a text with some of my friends where we were like, ‘Who is Marissa Jackson?’ For two days, we thought this was a real event, and it was dispelled later on Black Twitter. So when Donald pitched this idea of a Black woman who’s obsessed with the pop star, I said, ‘I know what the pilot is’ and ran with it. So every episode deals with real news stories, real events or internet rumors that have happened, and we have put our wonderful woman at the center of that story.”

A card from the closing credits of the “Swarm” episode “Stung.”

Additional reporting by Selome Hailu and Angelique Jackson

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Amanda Bynes Lived on the Streets For Days Before Being Found; Medical Personnel Extend …

Amanda Bynes Lived on the Streets For Days Before Being Found; Medical Personnel Extend …

Earlier this week, we reported on some distressing news in the life of actress Amanda Bynes.

Bynes had been placed on an emergency psychiatric hold after she was found wandering the streets of Los Angeles naked on Sunday morning.

Now, it seems that the situation was even more frightening than we initially thought.

According to a new report from TMZ, Amanda may have spent several days roaming the streets of LA before she finally flagged down a car and was brought to a police station.

Amanda Bynes' Tattoo Removal Pic
Amanda Bynes is opening up about her painful past. The former child star says her experiences in Hollywood had a lasting impact on her self-esteem. (Photo via Instagram)

The 36-year-old has struggled with mental health issues for several years, and spent most of the past decade under a conservatorship controlled by her parents.

Insiders say Amanda’s parents will not resume the conservatorship, but it looks as though the actress’ 5150 psychiatric hold will be extended, as she remains under the care of medical personnel.

TMZ is reporting that Bynes’ condition has improved dramatically since she was first hospitalized on Sunday, but staff feel that she’s not up to being released just yet.

Amanda Bynes Wants Out
Amanda Bynes filed to bring an end to her conservatorship in 2022. The former child star was under her parents’ control for the past nine years. (Photo via Instagram)

Since 5150 holds generally last for only three days, Amanda’s had to be extended, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The reports on her progress are encouraging, and it seems that Bynes and her loved ones are happy with the care that she’s receiving.

As for what led up to her hospitalization, details are still coming in, and the picture they paint is quite troubling.

Amanda Bynes Removes Face Tattoo: I Was Told I Look Like a Monster
Amanda Bynes is currently hospitalized following a frightening incident. (Photo via Instagram)

Amanda’s car was towed on March 15 in Long Beach, which is about 40 miles from her home.

She wasn’t hospitalized until March 19, and it looks as though she wandered the streets and hitchhiked for the entire interim, possibly in a confused attempt to get home.

She was spotted in Hollywood on March 18, where a witness said that she appeared disoriented.

Amanda Bynes Face Tattoo
Amanda Bynes revealed a new face tattoo in 2021. The reaction to the ink was overwhelmingly negative, and some fans expressed concerned for her mental health. (Photo via Instagram)

The following day she flagged down a car in downtown LA and was driven to a nearby police station.

Bynes was not wearing any clothing at the time, but she was apparently able to explain to the driver that she was coming down from a psychotic episode.

It might be a while before Amanda is released from the hospital.

Amanda Bynes in 2020
Amanda Bynes is back on Instagram. The former actress seems to be doing well, but fans are still a bit confused by her comeback post. (Photo via Instagram)

But hopefully she’s comforted by the knowledge that news of her battle has prompted an outpouring of support from a legion of devoted fans.

We’ll have further updates on this developing story as new information becomes available.

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Amanda Bynes Likely on Streets for Days, Psychiatric Hold to be Extended

Amanda Bynes Likely on Streets for Days, Psychiatric Hold to be Extended

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Ariana Madix Shades Raquel Leviss Amid Cheating Scandal: ‘I Don’t Know’ Her

Ariana Madix Shades Raquel Leviss Amid Cheating Scandal: ‘I Don’t Know’ Her

ariana shades raquel

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Image Credit: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Nothing says shade like quoting the iconic Mariah Carey! While on a coffee run in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Vanderpump Rules star Ariana Madix, 37, threw some shade at her co-star, Raquel Leviss, 28, who is the woman Tom Sandoval, 39, cheated on Ariana with (watch VIDEO HERE). When a paparazzi asked the blonde beauty if Raquel has “called to apologize“, Ariana responded with, “I don’t know who you’re talking about.”

ariana shades raquel
Ariana Madix (C) shaded Raquel Leviss (R) in a new interview on Mar. 21. (MediaPunch/Shutterstock)

To add fuel to the fire, Ariana was also asked how she felt about the upcoming reunion episode. She made it clear that it’s not an event she is excited about. “What do you think?”, she asked the camera person on Mar. 21. During the outing, the 37-year-old TV personality rocked a casual, yet chic, ensemble. Ariana opted for a pair of black leggings, an oversized black crewneck sweater, and black athletic sneakers. She accessorized her look with an on-trend small white purse and oversized sunglasses. She also tied her blonde tressed up in a messy updo for the afternoon outing.

Ariana’s outing comes one day after the midseason trailer for the hit reality show premiered. The trailer was released amid the ongoing “Scandoval” regarding Tom and Ariana’s breakup due to his affair with Raquel. Not only did Tom’s now-ex tell him she wants him to “die” in the clip, but she was also spotted skinny dipping with her friend, Brett Kenyon, who revealed his identity via TikTok on Tuesday.

Since Mar. 3, practically the entire Bravo TV fan base has been keeping tabs on the ongoing drama between these three. Not only was it revealed that Tom and Raquel had been having an affair for “months”, but it also took place during filming the show’s latest season. The rumors about their affair also began in the summer of 2022, however, Ariana did not become aware until just days prior to their public split. Season 10 of the hit show is currently airing on Bravo, with executive producer, Andy Cohen, confirming it will be a part of this season.

Not only has a plethora of the cast reacted to the split, including Kristen Doute, 40, Lala Kent, 32, James Kennedy, 31, and Katie Maloney, 36, to name a few, but Ariana also broke her silence on Mar. 16. “hi. where to begin? i want to express my most sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support i have received from friends, family, and people i’ve never even met in the last two weeks. when i have felt like i couldn’t even stand, you all have given me the strength to continue and seen me through my darkest hours,” her caption began.

“to say i have been devastated and broken is an understatement. however, i know that i am not in this alone. so many of my closest friends are also grieving this loss right now and reeling from this betrayal on so many levels. i am so f****** lucky to have the best support system in the world and i hope i can repay every single person for the love you have shown me. what doesn’t kill me better run,” Ariana concluded. As many know, Tom and Ariana dated for nine years, as they made their romance Instagram official in Feb. 2014. The next episode of Vanderpump Rules is set to air on Bravo on Mar. 22.

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‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Targeting Franchise Record $115M Global Opening – Box Office Preview

‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ Targeting Franchise Record $115M Global Opening – Box Office Preview

No, there won’t be any finger-pointing at the box office this weekend over a franchise film failing to open.

That’s because Lionsgate/Thunder Road Films/87 Eleven’s John Wick: Chapter 4 looks to not only reinvigorate a tentpole-heavy spring, but also debut to a franchise record of $115 million in worldwide box office.

Broken out that’s $65M-$70M in the U.S./Canada and another $45M abroad.

There’s a palpable energy in the air for what is billed as Keanu Reeves’ swan song in the series, this coming after two back-to-back premieres for Chapter 4, including a surprise screening at SXSW last week and the Los Angeles premiere last night. All of this has resulted in the best reviewed John Wick movie ever at 93% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Lance Reddick, left, with Ian McShane in ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’

With last week’s shocking death of Lance Reddick, who plays John Wick Continental Hotel concierge Charon in all four films, it would not be surprising to see even more fans make their way to the theater to watch one of his big-screen finales.

The fourthquel is booked at 3,800 theaters, with 1,675 of those being Imax, premium large format and motion enhanced seats (Dbox, 4DX, MX4D). Previews stateside start at 3PM on Thursday.

The last movie, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, posted $5.9M in Thursday previews which turned into a $22.6M opening day, and previous record domestic opening of $56.8M back in May 2019. The threequel finaled at $171M domestic, $328.3M WW becoming the highest grossing installment in a $588.7M grossing franchise. The marvel of this R-rated Keanu Reeves series, which has the actor once again reteaming with his Matrix co-star Laurence Fishburne, has always been how it started off small in theaters ($43M domestic, $86M WW) and mushroomed thanks to a great life in its home entertainment window into a behemoth at the box office. Arguably, the last time we saw this happen was with New Line’s Austin Powers.

The Chad Stahelski directed fourthquel is best with older guys and women, and Black moviegoers. The last movie, released in May 2019 pulled in 45% guys over 25, 29% women over 25, and men under 25 at 18%. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum yielded an $89M net profit after all home entertainment windows off a $75M production cost, $45M foreign sales and $48M U.S. marketing spend.

Internationally, John Wick: Chapter 4 debuts in 71 territories worldwide including  UK, Germany, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, and Mexico.

By comparison, 65 territories opened Parabellum day-and-date with the U.S. and that suite had Russia which is not included this time around. Russia was one of the top openings for the threequel offshore at $3.8M (unadjusted for inflation) and topped off at $7.6M. Parabellum didn’t have Germany, France and Spain in its opening weekend, though those major territories are included in Chapter 4‘s first frame here. Chapter 3‘s international opening weekend was $36.9M and $93.75M WW, a previous global record start.

Florence Pugh

Florence Pugh in “A Good Person


The second U.S./Canada weekend for New Line’s Shazam: Fury of the Gods is looking at around -60% for a $12M take per industry estimates. Monday was $1.7M, -77% from Sunday’s $7.4M.

MGM/United Artists releasing is also opening the Zach Braff R-rated title A Good Person starring Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman at 530 theaters. Written by Braff, A Good Person follows Allison, whose life falls apart following her involvement in a fatal accident.

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Springsteen, Kaling, Louis-Dreyfus among 22 honored by Biden

Springsteen, Kaling, Louis-Dreyfus among 22 honored by Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden welcomed a high-wattage collection of singers, authors, artists and humanitarians to the White House on Tuesday to present them with medals — and then stole the show himself with a quip about seeking reelection.

Bruce Springsteen, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mindy Kaling and Gladys Knight were among the 22 people and organizations being honored. When novelist Colson Whitehead’s award was announced, Biden noted that the author of “The Underground Railroad” and “The Nickel Boys” has already won back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes.

The president, who is expected to announce for reelection this spring, quickly picked it up

“Pretty good man,” he told Whitehead. “I’m kind of looking for a back-to-back myself,” he added, drawing a laugh from the audience.

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It was a feel-good event in the East Room, as the honorees stepped forward to receive their awards one by one. Louis-Dreyfus, who channeled Biden’s resume when she starred in “Veep,” jokingly sagged under the weight when the president placed the medal for the arts around her neck. “Wow!” she exclaimed.

Springsteen, with his everyman persona, looked incongruous in a black suit. He was lauded for “his extraordinary contributions to the American songbook, and for being ‘The Boss.’” Poet and author Richard Blanco stunned in a teal tuxedo.

Knight, the “empress of soul,” gave the president a giant hug when he put the medal around her neck. Jaclyn Sallee, who received the medal on behalf of Native America Calling, a podcast and radio show, beamed with pride. So did social historian Earl Lewis, who, according to the president, chronicles African American history and “explores how diversity strengthens our nation.”

Biden joked that he opens his closet to find one honoree, designer Vera Wang, inside — her clothes, anyway — then said, “Your dresses always look beautiful on my wife.”

The medals are Biden’s first batch of awards for the arts and humanities and were delayed by the pandemic. The president surprised Sir Elton John with a National Humanities Medal during a White House musical event last September. He told the crowd how important their work was, in keeping American culture alive and reminding people of our history – even the parts we’d like to forget. The honorees work includes dance, art, design, history as well as music, writing and philanthropy.

“You do make the country better, you make it a better place,” Biden told the crowd before they departed for a White House reception.

The honorees did not perform or speak to the crowd after they received their awards. But the U.S. Marine Corps band that often plays for East Room ceremonies did orchestral numbers of Springsteen hits “Born to Run” and ”Born in the U.S.A.”

Recipients of the 2021 National Medal of Arts:

— Judith Francisca Baca, artist.

— Fred Eychaner, businessman and philanthropist.

— Jose Feliciano, singer.

Mindy Kaling, actress.

Gladys Knight, singer.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actor.

— Antonio Martorell-Cardona, painter.

— Joan Shigekawa, film producer.

Vera Wang, fashion designer.

— The Billie Holiday Theatre.

— The International Association of Blacks in Dance.

Recipients of the 2021 National Humanities Medal:

— Richard Blanco, poet and author.

— Johnnetta Betsch Cole, anthropologist.

— Walter Isaacson, writer.

— Earl Lewis, social historian.

— Henrietta Mann, academic.

— Ann Patchett, author.

— Bryan Stevenson, advocate for the poor.

— Tara Westover, author.

— Colson Whitehead, author.

— Native America Calling.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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