Category Archives: Film & TV

Oprah’s Not Worried About Flack From Church Folk

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*For decades, my girl Oprah has spoken passionately about “intention.” She’s famously asked many guests what their “intention” was before sitting down to talk with them, and she seems grounded in a belief that if your intention is pure and significant, your work will bear fruit.

So it was not really a surprise to learn that the Queen of All Media wasn’t concerned with the possible backlash against her upcoming drama ‘Greenleaf,’ a one-hour scripted drama which promises to pull the curtain back from the inner workings of the black church and the family that runs one.

“Our intention is to use this as a platform for telling great stories,” the 62-year-old media tycoon said, during a press screening of Greenleaf. “Our intention is to be mindful and respectful of the church as an institution. Only good can come from that.”

The family drama focuses on a fictional megachurch in Memphis, Calvary Fellowship World Ministries, headed by Bishop James Greenleaf and Lady Mae Greenleaf, played by Lynn Whitfield. Viewers soon learn that the good Bishop’s life is more sinister than godly. Winfrey herself returns to the screen, playing Mavis McCready, Lady Mae’s sister, in the new series. Continue reading

BADWest Presents 10th Annual ‘Day of Black Docs’ May 21st at AFI

Alice Walter BEAUTY IN TRUTH
*The Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West (BADWest) is excited to present its 10th annual “Day of Black Docs” on Saturday, May 21, 2016, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the American Film Institute (AFI) Mark Goodson Theater, 2021 N. Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Four incredible films will be screened (three feature documentaries and one short).
 
Tickets are $15.00 for the entire day’s event and can be purchased in advance at www.dayofblackdocs.org. Seating for all screenings is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Purchasing tickets in advance is highly recommended. Free parking is available in the AFI parking lot.
 
Frank Dawson and Abby Ginzberg’s AGENTS OF CHANGE, winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Pan African Film Festival, covers the turbulent college student activism of the 1970’s.  ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH by Pratibha Parmar, is a revealing portrait of the author who was the first African American woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize.  Damon Kwame Mason’s SOUL ON ICE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE, winner of the People’s Choice Awards at the Edmonton International Film Festival, shares the inspiring, little known history of black players in hockey. Jacquil Constant’s HAITI IS A NATION OF ARTISTS, focusing on contemporary artists from the island nation, and Robin Daniels’ EVERY VOTE COUNTS, on the significance of our current election cycle, complete the day.

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Black Female “Human Computers” Were Crucial to NASA’s Space Exploration Program

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*We ALL know that the public educational system in the United States has been woefully deficient in including the contributions of African Americans. I still remember the moment when I, as a 2nd grader, pieced together than the black American revolutionist Chrispus Attucks fought in the same Revolutionary War that included Paul Revere and the rest of the white folks in powdered wigs and stockings. I like to tell myself that things have changed since then, and they HAVE, but when you stumble across a largely untold, unknown story like this, you have to wonder “how much?”.

A group of black, female college-educated mathematicians and chemists worked for NASA beginning in the 1940s, and helped land John Glenn and his colleagues on the moon.

Yes, they did!

97-year-old retired African American NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson was one of them. She was one of dozens of “human computers” who were hired by NASA Langley Memorial Research Laboratory in the 1940s.

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They were called “human computers” because before machines were designed, built, and perfected, these pioneering women crunched the numbers necessary to figure out everything from wind tunnel resistance to rocket trajectories to safe reentry angles..

If you’re like me, just reading those terms almost gives you a headache. Continue reading

Relaunch of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment Kicks Off April 14

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*(Los Angeles) — The Los Angeles Network of the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment (NABFEME)will hold a launch event reintroducing the organization and its board to LA. The featured guest speaker for the evening will be Ophelia Harper, CEO of ClayHouse Visual Branding Firm. Introductions of the the All-Star Board Members highlight the evening with music provided by DJ LA REGGEntertainment. The evening will be moderated by Serese Styles, Internet Radio Host of Beauty and The Beat.All professional women in business and entertainment are invited to joinNABFEME for this special kick off event, April 14, 2016 at Philippe Chow, 8620 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills from 6pm-10pm.

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Watch: I Can’t Be ‘The Only Black Person’ Into Fifty Shades of Grey! (New Film, New Photos!)

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*And I know that I am NOT! I have written on this film before…The story behind the whole S&M thang (which, BTW, I am NOT into) based on the best-selling trilogy of books from British author, E. L. James — the first of which was written in 2011. But as photos begin to leak showing characters Anastacia Steele and Christian Grey, brought to life magnificently by actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan respectively, it reminds me of how excited I am to see them as a married couple in “Fifty Shades Darker.”

Not to mention how this powerful franchise (the books have been around for years) will continue to give our brother, Marlon Wayans, fuel for what he probably hopes will be a franchise when his “Fifty Shades of Black” movie grows up.

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Dornan and Johnson were spotted filming Fifty Shades Darker in Vancouver, Canada recently. It’s really going to be a trip — especially for those who have seen the first film, Fifty Shades of Grey, (that BTW boosted The Weeknd’s song, Earned It, from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack to heights greater than he probably EVER expected it to go) buying into the fact that a woman who we first met as a rather goofy, sexually inexperienced waiflike creature not only  snags this wealthy-but-weird dude, but then gets a marriage proposal out of him and finally, gets that home with a picket fence and little family.

Oh sorry. Did I tell too much? Continue reading

Spoiler-Free Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (Loved It!)

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*If you love — or even like — comic book movies, or if you want to, go see Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Now.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not the most objective person when it comes to superhero movies. The office I’m writing in could double as a Superman museum, festooned with memorabilia that dates back to the classic 1950s George Reeves serials. I love the first two of the Richard Donner-helmed films starring Christopher Reeve, as well as Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.

That said, I know a stinker when I see one: Reeve’s Superman IV: The Quest For Peace is one of the worst films ever made (of any genre), and while I enjoyed some of the Batman films, and loved the Dark Knight trilogy, I’ve never quite understood the Batman character or the public’s seemingly endless fascination with him.

Thanks to Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne / Batman in the new Batman v Superman, I get it now. All of Affleck’s critics — he was dubbed “Batfleck” by the Twitterverse upon announcement of his casting — will be silenced with this one. Fanboys never need to mention Daredevil again. With no disrespect to Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, or Val Kilmer (cough cough George Clooney), Affleck is the silver screen’s best Dark Knight. Continue reading

Ben Vereen Promotes Wellness via the Arts, Awards Cash Prizes to Youth

 

Photo by Isak Tiner
Ben Vereen, Photo by Isak Tiner

*Entertainment legend Ben Vereen is on a mission. He’s devoting his full attention to restoring the arts to kids in public schools, and he’s been walking the walk for awhile.

“I knew nothing about the arts when I was very young, growing up in Brooklyn,” the 69-year-old icon told me. “I came in contact with a few angels, teachers and administrators at my junior high school, who were trying to generate interest in the arts there. I remember sitting with one of my teachers as she tearfully read a letter from a kid in the Midwest who dreamed of being able to study the arts in school.”

“I realized early on how the arts could affect people’s lives,” he continued, “and how not everyone had access to a school like the one I went to.” Continue reading

Say “Maybe” to Shonda Rhimes’ New Book, Year Of Yes

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*You’re probably familiar with the name Shonda Rhimes. If not, you’re familiar with THESE names: Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How To Get Away With Murder. Those television shows are three of Rhimes’ babies, and thanks to them, she owns network TV’s Thursday nights like they haven’t been owned since the Huxtables were around.

If you’re a Shondaland fan, you’ll like her new book, Year of Yes. It’s basically a trip through the tackling of a few of the writer’s own demons, including (very surprisingly) crippling self-doubt and insecurity. Rhimes says she found herself habitually saying “no” to anything that scared her or was outside of her comfort zone, which included all public speaking engagements.

After receiving challenges of sorts from her sisters — who are hysterically candid with her, according to the book — Rhimes embarked on her “year of yes”, agreeing to agree to every opportunity that came her way.

Year Of Yes is undoubtedly making an impact. Scandal star Kerry Washington recently referred to it as required reading. That’s a bit like Jesus saying the bible is required reading, but it’s significant, nonetheless. And speaking of Jesus, at least one church was inspired to embark upon its own “year of yes” this year, after the pastor read the book. Continue reading