Category Archives: Hollywood

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

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*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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BeBe Winans Thrilling Autobiographical Play Is A Family Affair

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*Gospel music legend BeBe Winans’ autobiographical play, Born For This, is enjoying it’s red carpet premiere this weekend in Atlanta at the Alliance Theatre.

“When you’re a teenager you don’t think your life is being recorded for others to learn from, or be healed by, or better yet to find strength through your fears and failures,” shared BeBe Winans. “Now I know that these were God’s plans for my life. We’re all born for a purpose. This musical celebrates the journey of finding it.”

For the uninitiated, BeBe is one of the Winans family, a gospel music dynasty from my home town of Detroit. Four of his older brothers formed the groundbreaking group The Winans, after which he and his sister Priscilla took the world by storm as a duo. You may know them as BeBe & CeCe.

In Born for This, BeBe and CeCe Winans experience the ultimate in culture shocks when invited to join Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Praise The Lord Network. The Winans teenagers become not only television celebrities as they were welcomed into the Bakkers’ family, helping to integrate TV evangelism. As BeBe and CeCe encounter fame, fortune, and even a young Whitney Houston, BeBe must learn to balance his desire for success with his true calling. Continue reading

World Premier: ‘Billie Holiday — Front and Center’ — Opens at Fremont Center Theatre, May 27

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*(Los Angeles) Billie Holiday (1915-1959)  was a trail-blazing musical artist, known as perhaps the first female vocalist to use her voice in the style of jazz improvisation. Recording first with Benny Goodman, she became the first Black female vocalist to front a white band, that of Artie Shaw. She also performed with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. She had long professional associations with saxophonist Lester Young (who named her Lady Day; she called him Prez) and pianist Teddy Wilson.

Born to poverty in Philadelphia, she was a victim of sexual assault while still a child and sentenced by the court to a Catholic correctional institution. It was only her first experience with the court, however. She was convicted at age 13 (along with her mother) of prostitution. Subsequent arrests involved possession of narcotics and substance abuse.

Despite a turbulent life, abusive relationships, and racism, she prevailed to become one of the greatest jazz and blues artists of her time, before her untimely demise at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver. In addition to multiple hit recordings, she sold out Carnegie Hall three times. Continue reading

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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Tap Dance Legend Savion Glover Teams up with Jazz Musician Jack DeJohnette

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Savion Glover, Photo by Lois Greenfield

*(Los Angeles, CA) Get ready for an unforgettable Evening of Rhythm and Percussion! Award-winning tap dancing sensation Savion Glover and renowned jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette will blur the line between music and dance as they merge their brilliant talents into a surging rhythmic machine at Valley Performing Arts Center for one night only on Thursday on May 26 at 8:00pm. This not-to-be-missed performance promises to be a tour-de-force night of percussion and rhythm bursting with the full vibrational power exchanged between these two legends.

Joining Savion Glover and Jack DeJohnette onstage at VPAC is Marshall Davis, an impressive tap dancer in his own right who was a cast member of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk and a Star Search champion.

Most recently, Savion Glover choreographed the Broadway musical, Shuffle Along, starring Audra McDonald and directed by George C. Wolfe, which opens April 28 at the Music Box Theatre.

George C. Wolfe said of Savion Glover, “I think what makes him an incredible artist is his extraordinary joy in what he does. He is able to live in that state of joy and not compromise his emotional complexity like the earlier tap dancers had to…He is as much a composer as he is a choreographer.”

Telegraph UK said of DeJohnette, “Jack DeJohnette’s drums rarely settle on a pulse, painting a sound-world in intricate floating patterns full of empty spaces, like points of light in a night sky.” Continue reading

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