Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
One of my favorite TV shows is “Dancing With The Stars” because it’s fun, entertaining, exciting and a feast for the eyes. Often there’s “drama” as well.
Tina Turner had a big hit with a song titled “The Best.” Well, the worst dancer I have ever seen on “Dancing With The Stars” is rapper Master P (real name: Percy Miller), and I admit that I missed a couple of seasons before I became a regular viewer. He was clumsy, largely disinterested, sorely lacking in rhythm, and no one could forget those ugly boots.
It was admirable that Master P stepped in when his son, rapper/actor Romeo, had to withdraw due to an injury before the season began. But Dad’s move was not necessary. They could have easily gotten someone else. His scores from the judges were painfully low. I felt sorry for his partner, Ashly DelGrosso.
Romeo, by the way, was great when he was able to be a celebrity contestant a number of seasons later.
B.B. KING, the biggest name in blues history, has some people angry with him, so much so that a lawsuit was filed in federal court.
King is accused of using his trademarks and publicity rights to block the making of a movie titled “B.B. King and I,” focusing on the relationship between the icon and Michael Zanetis, a guitarist King had helped a lot in the past.
The plaintiff is King Size Film Productions. They say King was helping with the screenplay, but then had a change of heart for whatever reason.
WILL SMITH is of the opinion that when a rapper reaches a certain age — he’s 43 — there is the existence of a credibility factor regarding making records and performing on stage. Therefore, he doesn’t plan on making any additional albums. (Of course, he is better known today as an actor anyway.) He may have gotten “jiggy wit’ it” for the last time.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for one of Smith’s greatest admirers, LL Cool J, to begin to feel the same way (if ever). His acting, too, has overshadowed his rapping, although he did appear in concert not long ago at Caesars Windsor.
FANTASIA BARRINO has put her huge house in North Carolina up for sale, and is even willing to take a major financial loss to take it off her hands. Apparently the taxes and other expenses got to be too much.
And hopefully by now the season 3 “American Idol” winner has gotten rid of all the freeloading relatives who had been living in her house. She admits that it was her fault for allowing the situation to develop, but it got to the point of absurdity.
Since Adele is the biggest of the newer stars out there today, with an album (21”) that won’t stop selling, it must be great for the former ladies of Destiny’s Child (Kelly Rowland, Beyoncé Knowles and Michelle Williams) to hear that Adele was a huge fan of the group as a teen and before.
Actress Paula Patton (wife of singer Robin Thicke) and Denzel Washington will be working together in a new action film, also starring Mark Wahlberg, titled “2 Guns.” She will be his love interest. They worked together before in the 2006 film “Deja Vu.”
The outrageous Nicki Minaj acknowledges that some of her material and some parts of her performances are unsuitable for children. However, she added that it was never her intention to be an attraction for kids anyway.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW that the legendary queen of gospel music, the late Mahalia Jackson, at one time owned a chicken franchise (the company also made cooking oil, etc.). The products were good but, unfortunately, the company never really got off the ground Laregly due to lack of support from the public.
MEMORIES: “Deep in the Night” (Linda Hopkins), “Can You Feel It?” (the Jacksons), “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” (the Friends of Distinction), “Get Off” (Foxy), “Never Knew Love Like This Before” (Stephanie Mills), “Reflections” (Diana Ross & the Supremes), “17” (Rick James), “Friendship Train” (Gladys Knight & the Pips), “Ecstasy” (the Ohio Players), “Everlasting Love” (Carl Carlton), “Show Me How” (the Emotions).
BLESSINGS to Dorothy Redmond, Arma Suggs, Deena Dunham, Carla Rhone, Fred Goree, Hansen Clarke, Stephen Singleton, Janaya Black, Rocky Black, David Humphries and Donafay Collins.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Tina Turner: “Whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 12:42
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
It must be nice to be the star of a new television show that virtually everyone expects to be a ratings bonanza. That kind of buzz has to feel good for all parties involved.
We speak of Kerry Washington, an actress with few peers when it comes to skill and consistency, and “Scandal,” the new drama airing on ABC in which Washington portrays Olivia Pope, a former crisis management expert to the president of the United States.
Her character could have stayed there, but opted to leave and start her own company, Olivia Pope and Associates. She is sought by the rich, the powerful and the elite, to protect their images — “a professional fixer” you might say.
Of course, she and her crisis team have their own lives, complete with “secrets” and more.
KERRY WASHINGTON has been acting for a substantial number of years, subsequently becoming a familiar face and name to millions of movie-goers and TV viewers.
Her résumé is impressive, but no more so than her abilities. Many words come to mind when the subject is Kerry Washington and what she has to offer. For example, “powerful,” “effective,” “memorable,” “captivating,” “strong,” “dynamic,” “sensitive,” “charming,” “tough,” “charismatic” and we can’t forget “sexy.”
Although Washington had done many things before and has done many things since, for many her role as Della Bea Robinson, wife of Ray Charles in the monumental film “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx, is a career highlight. She played the part so effectively that she, in essence, “was” Mrs. Robinson, just as Foxx, amazingly, “became” Ray Charles.
BRONX, NEW YORK-born Kerry Washington got her start on the stage and assures that the stage will always be a part of her life, her love for television and movies notwithstanding. As a teenager she performed with a theater group called Tada.
She is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In addition, she studied at Michael Howard Studios in New York City.
Washington grew up in a professional environment, so it is no surprise that she has always carried herself and viewed her career with a professional attitude and perspective at all times. She is the daughter of a professor and educational consultant (mother) and a real estate broker (father).
SHE MADE her screen debut in 1994, in “Magical Make-Over,” an ABC telefilm.
Since then, Washington has added a long list of acclaimed film performances, por-traying a wide range of characters in such films as “The Last King of Scotland,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Ray,” “Save the Last Dance,” “For Colored Girls,” “I Think I Love My Wife,” “Against the Ropes” and “A Thousand Words.”
In production right now is “Django Unchained.”
In 2005 Washington won an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture category for her performance in “Ray,” and has been nominated for an array of other awards.
She has appeared on such popular TV programs as “Boston Legal,” “Law & Order” and “NYPD Blue.”
“What’s important to me,” said Washington, “is to make sure my characters ring true, that they reflect a trueness to society.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 17:41
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
Something special happened on April 3, 1961, in Brooklyn, New York.
Edward Regan Murphy was born, destined to become one of the funniest comedians, one of the best impressionists and an outstanding actor. A pretty good singer too.
Murphy first came to the general public’s attention in 1980 when he was recruited for the cast of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” He played a key role in making 1980 to 1984 among the best periods in the perennial show’s long history.
Among the highlights: two devastating impressions of James Brown, a just-as-perfect one of Bill Cosby, the re-introduction of “Buckwheat” from “The Little Rascals,” a hilarious imitation of Michael Jackson, and a “spot-on” impression of Bob Marley.
Ditto for his Jesse Jackson, a side-splitting combination of Richard Simmons and Little Richard, a “ghetto-ized” send-up of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” plus an array of original characters, including “Velvet Jones,” the pimp who wrote books such as “Kicked in the Butt By Love” and “How To Be a Hoe.”
Interestingly, because he eventually grew tired of people asking him to “do Buckwheat,” Murphy had the character killed in an “SNL” episode. Some felt it was in poor taste, but a point was nevertheless made.
EDDIE MURPHY has the distinction of being the second-highest grossing actor in the United States.
The box office bonanza includes “48 Hours,” “Trading Places,” the “Beverly Hills Cop” series, “Coming to America,” “Harlem Nights,” “Boomerang,” “The Nutty Professor” and “Dreamgirls.”
His current big-screen offering is “A Thousands Words.”
Granted, there were several misfires, but the hits were so massive that the non-successes are almost unimportant in the greater scheme of things.
He also provided voices in films, most notably in “Shrek” and the sequel. He will do the same in “Honk Kong Phooey” which is currently in pre-production.
Murphy’s comedic style is as distinctive as his laugh, and just as he was influenced by Richard Pryor, Bill Cosby and Robin Williams, to name a few, so have others who came along after him been similarly influenced.
SOME PEOPLE seem to have show business in their blood — one or both parents are or were in the entertainment field.
That is only true with Eddie Murphy in a broad sense in that his father was an amateur actor. But Charles Murphy made his living as a transit police officer. His wife, Lillian, was a telephone operator. And certainly there was no comedy in the bloodline.
The young and ambitious Eddie Murphy, who is from Chicago, got his feet wet as a stand-up comedian in a comedy club in the San Franciso Bay Area, the same club, in fact, that Whoopi Goldberg and Robin Williams honed their craft.
Murphy was funny, but all too often his material was what could only be described as crude, as well as insensitive to gay people, Whites, overweight people, etc. This was even pointed out by an unlikely source — Richard Pryor.
Murphy later apologized for his insensitivity, just as Pryor later denounced use of the word “nigger.”
Having conquered stand-up comedy and television, movies was the natural next step.
MURPHY MADE his big screen debut in 1982 in “48 Hours,” co-starring Nick Nolte. That movie opened whole new vistas for the rising star who proved to be a natural as an actor.
In addition to the movies already cited, Murphy starred in, among others, “Another 48 Hours,” “The Distinguished Gentleman,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” “Holy Man” and “Bowfinger.”
Although he has been nominated for and won many awards, Murphy reached the apex with the 2006 film “Dreamgirls” in which he portrayed the James Brown inspired character James “Thunder” Early. He won, among others, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category, an award he was widely expected to win.
There is talk of there being a film made on the life and career of James Brown, and if it happens, Eddie Murphy, now 51, says he is ready to assume the lead role. But he said, jokingly yet seriously, that it would have to be made soon if he is to be expected to do splits.
As his acting star was rising, Murphy decided to venture into the world of recording, and did so with the same enthusiasm and expectation of success. (“I’ve always had confidence,” he has said.)
Murphy recorded five musical albums and had two Top 10 singles, “Party All the Time” and “Put Your Mouth on Me.”
Although success has come in every field he has entered, do not expect Eddie Murphy to retire anytime soon, if ever. But slowing down somewhat…that’s another matter.
“I’m relaxed about my career now,” he said. “I’ve earned the right to relax.”
Last Updated on Monday, 09 April 2012 02:16
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
There are plenty of reasons to have admiration and respect for Eddie Levert, lead singer of the O’Jays. For 50 years (fifty!) he has been belting out pure R&B — straight, no chaser. He epitomizes the genre and is what is meant by the term “soul singer.” (He’s also a nice person.)
Another remarkable thing about Eddie Levert is his fortitude, coupled with his determination to persevere no matter what.
It is a horrendous thing for any parent to lose a child, but Levert lost both of his sons, singers Gerald Levert and Sean Levert, within a period of a year and eight months. He must have a strong spiritual foundation, plus be secure in the knowledge that his sons would have wanted him to carry on, in his life and his career.
Eddie Levert deserves a courage award.
A LONG TIME ago someone coined the saying, “You’re only as old as you feel.” Then a more cynical person countered with, “You’re only as old as you are.”
Both are true, which came to mind when it was learned that Madonna’s new album, “MDNA,” and Lionel Richie’s new release, “Tuskegee,” debuted at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively on the national Pop sales chart.
Richie’s album sold a very impressive 199,000 copies in a one-week period, and Madonna’s sold more than that.
Keep in mind that Lionel Richie is 62 years old and Madonna is 53.
It’s good to know that artists in an older demographic can still set the charts on fire in a youth slanted industry.
BOOS AND HISSES to seven of the twelve children of the late legend and icon Ray Charles who are proving themselves to be money grabbers. In his will, Charles left them $500,000 each on the condition that they not seek any additional money from his estate.
But now “the greedy seven” are attempting to obtain the ownership to over 50 lucrative song copyrights, even though the copyrights are owned by the Ray Charles Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides funding for hearing impairment charities and other educational organizations.
Usher fans are looking forward to June because that is when the singer/actor’s new album, “Looking For Myself,” is scheduled to be released.
Adam Lambert, the talented season 8 first runner-up on “American Idol,” promises that his upcoming album, “Trespassing,” will be exciting, with a focus on dance, house, disco and funk. Producers include two of the best, Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams.
SO WHAT’s up Jaleel White? First the former “Family Matters” child star, who comes across as likable, is accused of being physically abusive to Bridget Hardy, a former girlfriend and mother of his child. Then he gets into widely publicized over-the-top argument with “Dancing With The Stars” partner Kym Johnson. And then he tops it off with an obviously contrived “emotional moment” on the show. (He put his hand over his face, but when he removed it there wasn’t even a trace of moisture in his eyes.)
Speaking of “Dancing With The Stars,” from what I’ve seen so far this season, the most deserving to win the Silver Ball trophy is the amazing pro Mark Ballas and his surprisingly good partner, classical singer Katherine Jenkins.
Heejun Han, “American Idol” finalist who was recently voted off, was way out of line to say publicly that P. Diddy was “kinda drunk” the week he coached the finalists. Even if what he says is true, there are some things you keep to yourself.
Dionne Warwick, who was seen in the audience on “American Idol” and “Dancing With The Stars” recently in the same week, is one of those people you have to give props to for surviving adversity.
That includes the “Psychic Friends Network” commercials, being seen having lunch with accused murderer O.J. Simpson and being caught with marijuana. No matter what, she holds her head high with great dignity and pride. Anyone who wants to say or think something negative can just “walk on by.”
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Channel 2 anchorman Huel Perkins is a huge fan of songwriter/singer Laura Nyro.
MEMORIES: “If I Could” (Regina Belle), “Band of Gold” (Freda Payne), “Sherry” (the Four Seasons), “When Will I See You Again?” (the Three Degrees), “How Long? (Betcha Got a Chick on the Side)” (the Pointer Sisters), “Angel” (Angela Winbush), “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson), “Say You, Say Me” (Lionel Richie), “Baby Don’t You Do It” (Marvin Gaye), “Miss You Like Crazy” (Natalie Cole).
BLESSINGS to Cliff Russell, Linda Burgess, Carlton Pearson, Terry Cabell, Michael Goodin, Freddy Anderson, Marva Stafford, Mojo, Verna Green and Greg Mitchell.
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 17:34
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
When it was time to present the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony last month, nothing was more right than Octavia Spencer’s name being called. Her performance in “The Help” as Minny Jackson alongside Viola Davis (who was also splendid, as always) was extraordinary.
Heck, she would have been worthy of the gold statuette if only for that powerful “revenge” scene. (Some people will never think of chocolate pie the same way again!) Her racist, mean-spirited employer was taught an unforgettable lesson, to say the least.
Spencer’s Oscar acceptance speech came straight from the heart and is firmly embedded in the minds and hearts of many thousands of people.
Although the speech was movingly poignant, it also had a light moment that brought smiles and laughs. Specifically, it was when she said, “Oh, thank you! Thank you, Academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room.” (That “guy” being “Oscar.”)
In a way, Spencer had what could be described as an inside track. Through a friend (film director Tate Taylor) she had met and become friends with Kathryn Stockett, whose book, “The Help,” the yet-to-be-made movie was based on. Stockett developed many aspects of the Minny Jackson character from Spencer.
THERE ARE those who have issues with a movie focusing on Black women being in subservient positions as maids. But “The Help” takes place in the deep South (Jackson, Mississippi) in the early 1960s.
Moreover, there is nothing shameful about being employed as a maid (then or now). It pays the bills, it’s honest work and, in fact, these hardworking ladies had a lot to do with the survival of the African-American family. (Spencer’s mother having worked as a maid gave her additional insight.)
We didn’t just leap from slavery to things changing to the extent that a Black man could be elected president of the United States. There was much in between, and denying history has never helped anyone.
OCTAVIA SPENCER, born in Montgomery, Alabama, is far from being a newcomer to the acting world. In fact, she has been practicing her craft since the mid-1990s, landing a door-opening role as a nurse in the 1996 film “A Time to Kill.” It starred Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson and Sandra Bullock.
Interestingly, she might not have fulfilled her dream of becoming an actress had she acquiesced to the wishes of her mother. She felt that her daughter would be much better off pursuing a career elsewhere, considering the odds of making it in show business, along with the constant uncertainties even if she were to make it.
Mothers very often know best, but in some cases they do not fully grasp the importance of one marching to the beat of one’s own drummer.
After “A Time to Kill,” Spencer quickly realized that a move to Los Angeles was necessary. Although she had no professional training, she (rightfully) felt that she could get the job done. She was what is referrred to as “a natural.”
SPENCER WAS excited to secure a second film assignment, in “The Sixth Man.” However, as happens often in the movie business, much of her performance ended up on the cutting room floor.
That was a major disappointment, but hardly enough to sidetrack a determined actress.
Spencer, who earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Auburn University (in Auburn, Alabama), auditioned constantly, always keeping her eyes and ears open for parts that she felt she was suitable for, all the more so if it offered a special challenge.
From 1997 to the present, Spencer was hired for a long string of film and TV roles, though not enough to make her a household name.
On the big screen she has been seen in, among others, “Spider-Man,” “The Soloist,” “Beauty Shop,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous,” “Big Momma’s House,” “Coach Carter” and “Bad Santa.”
Television viewers have noticed Spencer in such programs as “Malcolm in the Middle.” “Raising the Bar,” “Ugly Betty,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Dharma & Greg,” “NYPD Blue” and “ER.”
In addition to the Academy Award, Octavia Spencer has been honored at the NAACP Image Awards, the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, the Black Reel Awards and at the Hollywood Film Festival and more.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:22
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