Showing posts with label Cicely Tyson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cicely Tyson. Show all posts

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from January 24th to 31st, 2021 - Update #28

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


BOX OFFICE - From Variety:   The winner of the 1/29 to 1/31/2021 weekend box office is "The Little Things" (starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto), with an estimated take of 4.8 million dollars.

From Deadline:   Are Warner Bros.' film that are are released in both movie theaters and on HBO Max making money?

POLITICS - From Jacobin:   Everything You Always Wanted to Know about QAnon But Were Too Weirded Out to Ask

BLM - From YahooNews:   Black Lives Matter movement nominated for 2021 Nobel Peace Prize

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  ABC has ordered a production pilot that will reboot its former Emmy-winning series, "The Wonder Years" (1988-93).  The reboot will be set in the same time period, late 1960s, but this time will focus on a middle class African-American family in Montgomery, Alabama.

CICELY TYSON - From Variety:  LeVar Burton pays tribute to his "Roots" co-star, Cicely Tyson, who died on Thursday.

MOVIES - From Variety:   "Variety" has made the screenplay for "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" available for reading.

TELEVISION - From YahooFinance:  Media mogul Byron Allen launches TheGrio.TV: "Communicate how you see the world unapologetically."

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:   Is Denzel Washington acting in movies like the new film, "The Little Things," to make up for turning down the Brad Pitt role in classic serial killer film, "Seven?"  This review of "The Little Things" speculates.

STREAMING - From Deadline:   Paramount+ (CBS All Access) teases a revival of Nickelodeon's "iCarly" with a set photo.

OSCARS - From Deadline:   The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Thursday released its official entries for 2021 Oscars in the categories of Documentary Feature, Animated Feature and International Films. As expected, the eligible Documentary Feature lineup shatters the record for the most ever.

FESTIVALS - From Deadline:   The 2021 Cannes Film Festival is delaying from its May dates. The fest will now run July 6-17, pushing back from the originally planned May 11-22 slot.

MOVIES - From IndieWire: Neon has released a first look at actress Kristen Stewart ("Twilight") as Princess Diana in director Pablo Larrain's upcoming film, "Spencer."

MOVIES - From Deadline:   Skydance Media has optioned the rights to re-imagine the "Spy Kids" film franchise Spyglass Media Group and series creator Robert Rodriguez.

MOVIES - From Deadline: Newcomer Alton Mason will play rock 'n' roll icon, Little Richard, in director Baz Luhrmann's film, "Elvis."

BLM - From BET:   UCLA Gymnastics showed off some Black Girl Magic over the weekend, thanks to a flawless floor routine from star athlete Nia Dennis.

AWARDS - From Deadline:   The nominees fro the 2020-21 Film Independent Spirit Awards have been announced.  "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" leads with seven nominations, include "Best Feature."

BIDEN! - From CNN:   White House recommits to getting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill after delays by the defunct President Donald clown administration.

POLITICS-AWARDS - From YahooEntertainment:   Spike Lee says Donald Trump "will go down in history with the likes of Hitler" in New York Film Critics speech

HARRY POTTER - From THR:   A live-action "Harry Potter" TV series is in development at HBO Max. HBO and Warner Bros. are denying this, however.

TELEVISION - From THR:  Former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, are developing a female Kurdish militia drama for TV.

BOX OFFICE - From Deadline:  The winner of the 1/22 to 1/24/20 weekend box office is "The Marksman" with an estimated take of 2.03 million dollars.

From Deadline: "Our Friend" is among the film leading at the specialty box office.

TELEVISION - From Variety:   Actor Kenneth Branagh will play British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a new television series from writer-director Michael Winterbottom.  Entitled "The Spectred Isle," the series will focus on Britain's muddled response to the COVID-19 crisis.


From Deadline:  The pioneering African-American actress, Cicely Tyson, has died at the age of 96, Thursday, January 28, 2021.  Her most famous works are the 1974 television movie, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (for which she won two of her three Primetime Emmy Awards) and the 1972 film, "Sounder" (for which she received her lone Academy Award nomination).  Tyson won a Tony Award for her performance in the 2013 revival of "A Trip to Bountiful."  In 2018, she received the "Honorary Academy Award."  Tyson continued to work until her passing, appearing in six films for Tyler Perry.

From Variety:  Longtime film and television actress, Cloris Leachman, has died at the age of 94, Tuesday, January 26, 2021.  Many will remember her as the character, "Phyllis Lindstrom" on CBS' "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and on her spinoff, "Phyllis" (1975-77). Leachman also appeared in three Mel Brooks movies, including her memorable turn as "Frau Blucher" in "Young Frankenstein" (1974).  Leachman was nominated 22 times for the Primetime Emmy Awards and won eight, and she won a Daytime Emmy Award.  Leachman won the "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar and British Academy Film Award for her performance in "The Last Picture Show" (1971).

From CNN:   Veteran NBA reporter and analyst, Sekou Smith, has died at the age of 48, Tuesday, January 26, 2021 from complications of COVID-19.  Smith wrote for and worked for NBA TV since 2009.

From Deadline:   The veteran character actor, Bruce Kirby, has died at the age of Sunday, January 24, 2021.  Kirby long career began in the mid-1950s.  He appeared in recurring roles on several series, including "Car 54, Where Are You?," "Columbo," and "L.A. Law" to name a few.  He also had a memorable role in the Oscar-winning "Best Picture," "Crash."  Kirby was also the father of the late actor, Bruno Kirby (1949-2006).

From Deadline:   Television and film writer, Walter Bernstein, has died at the age of 101, Friday, January 22, 2021.  Bernstein was one of the writers blacklisted in Hollywood in the 1950s.  His credits include "Fail-Safe" (1964) and "The Front" (1976), which starred Woody Allen as a man who acts as a "front" for blacklisted writers.

From Deadline:   The actor, Gregory Sierra, has died at the age of 83, Monday, January 4, 2021.  Sierra is best known for playing "Julio Fuentes" in 12 episodes of the NBC sitcom, "Sanford and Son" (1972-77), and for playing "Sgt. Miguel 'Chano' Amenguale" during the first two seasons of the ABC sitcom, "Barney Miller" (1975-85).  He had guest roles on numerous TV series and appeared in at least 30 films.  Sierra's death was only recently made public.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

BET and CBS News Honor Cicely Tyson with Special Airing Sun., Jan 31st

BET to Honor the Legendary Cicely Tyson with a Primetime Exclusive News Special “BET + CBS News Present Cicely Tyson: In Her Own Words,” Premiering Sunday, January 31 at 7PM ET/PT on BET and 8PM/7C on BET Her

Hosted by CBS This Morning Anchor Gayle King, The Half-Hour News Special Features Extended Excerpts from King’s Recent Interview with Tyson to Celebrate Her Remarkable and Groundbreaking Career


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BET, in partnership with CBS News, announced a new primetime exclusive special honoring the life and legacy of iconic actress Cicely Tyson. Hosted by CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, “BET + CBS News Present Cicely Tyson: In Her Own Words” will feature extended excerpts from one of the legendary actress and fashion model’s last interviews.

In this special, Ms. Tyson reflects on her trailblazing and illustrious 70-year career across television, film and theater, including being the first Black actress to co-star in a television drama series, East Side/West Side, to her Emmy award-winning performance in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974), Tony award-winning role in The Trip to Bountiful (2013), receiving an Honorary Academy Award in 2018 and recent induction into the Television Hall of Fame (2020). Her influence transcends beyond the screen and stage into many other facets of American culture. We join so many in celebration of her life, legacy and immeasurable contributions to the representation of African Americans, specifically Black women in the media. “Cicely Tyson: In Her Own Words” premieres Sunday, January 31, 2021, at 7:00 PM ET/PT on BET and 8PM/7C on BET Her.

BET celebrated Tyson's incredible work at BET Honors 2010 and Black Girls Rock! 2015. Watch her BET Honors 2010 tribute here or

At 7:30 PM ET/PT, BET will also air “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too” starring Cicely Tyson.

BET Digital will celebrate and honor the pioneering icon across digital and social platforms using the hashtags #BETRemembersCicelyTyson. For more information, please visit

About BET:
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African American audience. The primary BET channel is in 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks - BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from November 24th to 30th, 2019 - Update #27

Support Leroy on Patreon:

MOVIES - From THR:  See 12 stars from Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," the characters they play, and the real life inspirations behind those characters.

ECO - From YahooEntertainment:  "Young Sheldon" star, Iain Armitage, joined Jane Fonda's #FireDrillFridays climate change protest in Washington D.C.

MOVIES - From TheGuardian:  Black directors are making zombie movies that are taking zombies back to their African and Caribbean roots.

SCANDAL - From Variety:  Controversial and Oscar-winning director, Roman Polanski, cancelled a lecture in Poland at his alma mater, the Polish film school in Lodz, after protests from students and faculty.  Polanski pleaded to statutory rape in 1978 and was recently accused of raping an actress in 1975.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  "Saturday Night Live" performer, Pete Davidson, required attendees at one of his recent comedy shows to sign a "non-disclosure agreement" (NDA) regarding phones and smart watches.

SCANDAL - From YahooEntertainment:   Saturday morning "Ugh!" Part 2 - Kid Rock - yes, Virginia, he is a racist.

From YahooSports:  Saturday morning "Ugh!" Part 1 - Margaret Court, tennis legend.

SCANDAL - From Variety:  In the wake of Gabrielle Union being fired from the "talent" reality show, "America's Got Talent" (NBC), women's advocacy group, "Time's Up," and Hollywood women are throwing their support behind Union.  It seems Union may have angered the show's power brokers after she complained about racist or racial incidents occurring behind the scenes.

CELEBRITY - From THR:  Angelina Jolie may be currently filming Marvel Studios' "Eternals," but she still has time to change talent agencies.  She moves from UTA to WME.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  "A Holiday Reunion," a short film reuniting the creature from "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" and Henry Thomas, who played Elliott in the 1982 Steven Spielberg film, premiered Thurs., Nov. 28th on NBC (broadcast network), Syfy (cable network), and on the website of Comcast Xfinity.

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:  Word is that Christopher Nolan's next film, "Tenet," will be previewed before IMAX showings of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

SCANDAL - From THR:  A New York judge denied Harvey Weinstein's motion to dismiss the sex crimes charges (two counts of "Predatory Sexual Assault") against him.

TELEVISION - From Variety:  In the wake of Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough getting fired from "America's Got Talent," we learn that some people working on the show thought Union's hairstyles were "too black" for AGT's audience.

MOVIES - From EW:   Elizabeth Banks will follow-up her reboot of "Charlie's Angels" with the horror movie, "The Invisible Woman," for Universal, which she will direct and star in.  It will not be connected to next year's "The Invisible Man," (also from Universal), nor does it have anything to do with Marvel Comics' "Invisible Woman" superhero character.  It is not connected to the 1940-released "The Invisible Woman," which was a spin-off of Universal Studios' classic 1933 horror film, "The Invisible Man."

MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Talk show host Wendy Williams says that it is unbelievable that Taylor Swift is the American Music Awards' "Artist of the Decade."  [Well, it certainly says something or even a lot about the state of poular music... - Leroy]

POLITICS - From TheRoot:  That's why I don't trust Pete Buttigieg.  Everything about him is undercover... except that he is gay... which is unusual.  He is Lindsay Graham, except Pete doesn't hide in the closet... at least about being gay.

SCANDAL - From People:  British royal, Prince William (37), has been involved in the decision-making to remove his uncle, Prince Andrew (59), from royal duties.  This comes in the wake of Andrew's disastrous Nov. 16th interview with the BBC about his connections and relationship with the late convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein.

From People:  A royal historian says that Prince Andrew's "entire public existence" has been wiped out because of his connection to the late Jeffrey Epstein.

BLM - From YahooNYT:  Black police officers put their lives in their own hands or in the hands of their incompetent and/or racist white colleagues.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 11/22 to 11/24/2019 weekend box office is "Frozen II" with an estimated take of 127 million dollars.

From THR:  "Frozen II's" weekend debut ($127 million) set a few records, including being the largest opening for an animated film outside of the summer release corridor and being the largest opening for an animated film in the month of November.

From Variety:  "Frozen II" makes a 223 million dollar debut in international markets.  It's 350 million dollar global debut is a record an animated film.

TELEVISION - From Deadline:  Actress Julia Ormond joins the cast of "The Walking Dead: World Beyond," which will debut Spring 2020.  It is the third "Walking Dead" television series.

AWARDS - From Deadline:  Here is a full list of the winners at the 2019 American Music Awards (AMA).  Taylor Swift led the night with six wins, giving her a total of 29 AMA wins, the most ever.

MOVIES - From TheUndefeated:  Former NFL cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, is making a name for himself as a producer with films such as "Harriet" and Apple+'s "The Banker."

STREAMING - From Deadline:  Tyler Perry announced that his next film, "A Fall From Grace," will bow on Netflix January 17, 2020.  The cast includes Cicely Tyson, Phylicia Rashad, and Perry, to name a few.

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  Chadwick Boseman talks about his new films, "21 Bridges," and the Oscar chances of "Avengers: Endgame."


From Deadline:  Here is the first full trailer for the Vietnam War film, "The Last Full Measure," which is due Jan. 24th, 2020.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Cicely Tyson, Kathleen Kennedy Among 2018 Governors Awards Recipient


The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted Tuesday night (September 4, 2018) to present Honorary Awards to publicist Marvin Levy, composer Lalo Schifrin and actress Cicely Tyson, and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award to producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.  The three Oscar® statuettes and Thalberg Award will be presented at the Academy’s 10th Annual Governors Awards on Sunday, November 18, 2018 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

“Choosing the honorees for its awards each year is the happiest of all the Board of Governors’ work. And this year, its selection of five iconic artists was made with universal acclaim by the Academy’s 54 spirited governors.” said Academy President John Bailey.

Levy began his career in publicity working for MGM in New York City before joining Columbia Pictures in Hollywood, where he guided the advertising for films including “The Deep” and “Kramer vs. Kramer.”  His work for the 1977 film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” marked the beginning of a four-decade-long partnership with Steven Spielberg.  Levy has held positions at Amblin Entertainment, DreamWorks Studios and Amblin Partners, and has worked on publicity campaigns for such films as “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial,” “Back to the Future,” “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “American Beauty,” “Gladiator” and “Lincoln.” Levy is the first publicist to receive an Honorary Oscar.

Born and raised in Argentina, Schifrin studied classical music and jazz in France before beginning to compose for film in Buenos Aires in the mid-1950s.  He has written scores for more than 100 films, including “The Cincinnati Kid,” “Bullitt,” “Dirty Harry,” “Enter the Dragon” and “Rush Hour.”  His memorable theme for the television series “Mission: Impossible” has been a hallmark of the recent film series.  He has received six Oscar® nominations, for the original scores for “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), “The Fox” (1968), “Voyage of the Damned” (1976) and “The Amityville Horror” (1979), the original song “People Alone” from “The Competition” (1980) and the adaptation score for “The Sting II” (1983).

Raised in Harlem, Tyson began her career as a model and a theater actress, appearing both on Broadway and Off-Broadway.  After playing small roles in feature films and television, she was cast as Portia in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter” in 1968.  Four years later, she received an Academy Award® nomination for her leading performance in “Sounder.”  Her other notable film credits include “The River Niger,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “The Help,” “Alex Cross” and “Last Flag Flying.”

The Kennedy/Marshall producing partnership, formed in 1991, has generated Best Picture nominations for “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Seabiscuit” (2003), “Munich” (2005) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008).  Kennedy/Marshall Company productions also include “Congo,” all five “Bourne” films, and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”  Prior to forming Kennedy/Marshall, the duo co-founded Amblin Productions with Steven Spielberg, sharing a Best Picture nomination for “The Color Purple” (1985).  Additionally, Marshall received a Best Picture nomination for “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), while Kennedy was nominated in the same category for “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “War Horse” (2011) and “Lincoln” (2012). Kennedy is the first woman to receive the Thalberg Award.

The Honorary Award, an Oscar statuette, is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”  The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, a bust of the motion picture executive, is presented to creative producers “whose body of work reflects a consistently high quality of motion picture production.”

The 10th Annual Governors Awards is proudly supported by Rolex, the Exclusive Watch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

President Obama Presents 21 Recipients the Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama Names Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – President Barack Obama named 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards were presented at the White House on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016.

President Obama said, "The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation's highest civilian honor - it's a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better.  From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way."

This event was streamed live at:

The following individuals were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another. During his career, Abdul-Jabbar was a six-time NBA Most Valuable Player and a 19-time NBA All-Star. Before joining the NBA, he was a star player at UCLA, leading the Bruins to three consecutive championships. In addition to his legendary basketball career, Abdul-Jabbar has been an outspoken advocate for social justice.

Elouise Cobell (posthumous)

Elouise Cobell was a Blackfeet Tribal community leader and an advocate for Native American self-determination and financial independence.  She used her expertise in accounting to champion a lawsuit that resulted in a historic settlement, restoring tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other tribes, and in so doing, inspired a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others.  Cobell helped found the Native American Bank, served as director of the Native American Community Development Corporation, and inspired Native American women to seek leadership roles in their communities.

Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres is an award-winning comedian who has hosted her popular daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 with her trademarked humor, humility, and optimism. In 2003 Ellen lent her voice to a forgetful but unforgettable little fish named Dory in Finding Nemo. She reprised her role again in 2016 with the hugely successful Finding Dory. Ellen also hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014. In 1997, after coming out herself, DeGeneres made TV history when her character on Ellen revealed she was a lesbian. In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.

Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro has brought to life some of the most memorable roles in American film during a career that spans five decades. His first major film roles were in the sports drama Bang the Drum Slowly and Martin Scorsese's crime film Mean Streets.  He is a seven-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Oscar winner, and is also a Kennedy Center honoree.

Richard Garwin

Richard Garwin is a polymath physicist who earned a Ph.D. under Enrico Fermi at age 21 and subsequently made pioneering contributions to U.S. defense and intelligence technologies, low-temperature and nuclear physics, detection of gravitational radiation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer systems, laser printing, and nuclear arms control and nonproliferation. He directed Applied Research at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and taught at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Harvard University. The author of 500 technical papers and a winner of the National Medal of Science, Garwin holds 47 U.S. patents, and has advised numerous administrations.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Bill and Melinda Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the mission is to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. The Gates Foundation has provided more than $36 billion in grants since its inception.

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is one of the world’s leading architects, whose works have helped define contemporary architecture. His best-known buildings include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Dancing House in Prague, and the Guggenheim Museum building in Bilbao, Spain.

Margaret H. Hamilton

Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo command modules and lunar modules. A mathematician and computer scientist who started her own software company, Hamilton contributed to concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling and priority displays, and human-in-the-loop decision capability, which set the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design and engineering.

Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is one of the Nation’s finest actors and filmmakers. He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role five times, and received the award for his work in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.  Those roles and countless others, including in Apollo 13, Saving Private Ryan, and Cast Away, have left an indelible mark on American film. Off screen, as an advocate, Hanks has advocated for social and environmental justice, and for our veterans and their families.

Grace Hopper (posthumous)

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Hopper’s work helped make coding languages more practical and accessible, and she created the first compiler, which translates source code from one language into another.  She taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II, where she became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer and began her lifelong leadership role in the field of computer science.

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of all time. Jordan played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards; he is currently a principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets.  During his career, he won six championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and appeared in 14 All-Star games.

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an artist and designer who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and since then has pursued a celebrated career in both art and architecture.  A committed environmentalist, Lin is currently working on a multi-sited artwork/memorial, What is Missing? bringing awareness to the planet's loss of habitat and biodiversity.

Lorne Michaels

Lorne Michaels is a producer and screenwriter, best known for creating and producing Saturday Night Live, which has run continuously for more than 40 years. In addition, Michaels has also produced The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and 30 Rock, among other popular, award-winning shows. He has won 13 Emmy Awards over the course of his lengthy career.

Newt Minow

Newt Minow is an attorney with a long and distinguished career in public life. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Minow served as a Supreme Court clerk and counsel to the Governor of Illinois. In 1961, President Kennedy selected Minow, then 34, to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Committee (FCC), where he helped shape the future of American television and was a vigorous advocate for broadcasting that promoted the public interest. In the five decades since leaving the FCC, Minow has maintained a prominent private law practice while devoting himself to numerous public and charitable causes.

Eduardo Padrón

Eduardo Padrón is the President of Miami Dade College (MDC), one of the largest institutions of higher education in the United States. During his more than four decade career, President Padrón has been a national voice for access and inclusion. He has worked to ensure all students have access to high quality, affordable education. He has championed innovative teaching and learning strategies making MDC a national model of excellence.

Robert Redford

Robert Redford is an actor, director, producer, businessman, and environmentalist. In 1981, he founded the Sundance Institute to advance the work of independent filmmakers and storytellers throughout the world, including through its annual Sundance Film Festival. He has received an Academy Award for Best Director and for Lifetime Achievement.  Redford has directed or starred in numerous motion pictures, including The Candidate, All the President's Men, Quiz Show, and A River Runs Through It. 

Diana Ross

Diana Ross has had an iconic career spanning more than 50 years within the entertainment industry in music, film, television, theater, and fashion. Diana Ross is an Academy Award nominee, inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Grammy Awards highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Ross was a recipient of the 2007 Kennedy Center Honors.  Diana Ross’s greatest legacy is her five wonderful children.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully is a broadcaster who, for 67 seasons, was the voice of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers.  In Southern California, where generations of fans have grown up listening to Dodger baseball, Scully's voice is known as the "soundtrack to summer."  In 1988, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  Scully's signature voice brought to life key moments in baseball history, including perfect games by Sandy Koufax and Don Larsen, Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series, and Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run.

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen is a singer, songwriter, and bandleader.  More than five decades ago, he bought a guitar and learned how to make it talk.  Since then, the stories he has told, in lyrics and epic live concert performances, have helped shape American music and have challenged us to realize the American dream.  Springsteen is a Kennedy Center honoree and he and the E Street Band he leads have each been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  

Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson has performed on the stage, on television, and on the silver screen.  She has won two Emmy Awards and a Tony Award, and is known for her performances in Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, and The Help.  In 2013, she returned to the stage with The Trip to the Bountiful, and was awarded the Tony Award for best leading actress.  Tyson received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015.


Friday, March 20, 2015

BET Announces #BLACKGIRLSROCK Celebrants

Ava DuVernay, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cicely Tyson, Erykah Badu, Dr. Helene D. Gayle and Nadia Lopez Honored as This Year’s “Black Girls Rock!™” Celebrants

Ciara, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Faith Evans, Fantasia, Sheila E. and Lalah Hathaway Confirmed to Rock the Stage During “Black Girls Rock!™” 2015

Hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King, “Black Girls Rock!™” Will Tape March 28, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--BET Networks is excited to reveal this year’s “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™” 2015 celebrants:

Cicely Tyson, Living Legend Award

Ava DuVernay, Shot Caller Award

Dr. Helene D. Gayle, Social Humanitarian Award

Erykah Badu, Rock Star Award

Nadia Lopez, Change Agent Award

Jada Pinkett Smith, Star Power Award

Additionally, Ciara, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Faith Evans, Fantasia, Sheila E. and Lalah Hathaway will be hitting the stage as performers for “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™” 2015 along with surprise musical performances. The televised special celebrates its fifth year honoring the triumphs of inspirational African-American women who are trailblazers in the areas of art, philanthropy, sports, and community service. As previously announced, Tracee Ellis Ross and Regina King will co-host the event at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center located in downtown Newark, New Jersey. Tune in to watch “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™” on Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015 at 7 pm/ET.

“BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™” nationally broadcast its televised debut on BET Networks in 2010. Going into its fifth year on TV, the dynamic award show continues to represent a revolutionary landmark in media, diverging from traditional award shows by honoring powerful women through didactic, entertaining, and inspiring content. “BLACK GIRLS ROCK!™” will air on BET Networks this year for the first time since 2013 and will premiere on BET Networks in the UK on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 9pm BST (check local listings).

For updates or more information about “BLACK GIRLS ROCK! ™” visit and

Join the conversation on social media by logging on to BET’s multiple social media platforms:

• On Twitter by using hashtag: #BlackGirlsRock; follow us @BET and @BLACKGIRLSROCK

• On Facebook by liking the fan pages at and

• On Instagram @betnetworks and @BLACKGIRLSROCK

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Kinky Boots" Walks All Over 2013 Tony Awards

by Lucy Troy

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre is more commonly known as the “Tony Award.” The Tony Awards recognize achievement in live Broadway theatre and are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and there is an award given for regional theatre. There are also several discretionary, non-competitive Tony Awards, such as a Special Tony Award.

The Tony Awards are considered the highest theatre honor given in the United States. It is essentially New York theatre industry’s equivalent to the Oscars for motion pictures, the Grammy Awards for music, and the Emmy Awards for television.

The 67th Annual Tony Awards were held on Sunday, June 9, 2013, in order to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2012–2013 season. CBS television broadcast the ceremony live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City with Neil Patrick Harris hosting for fourth time (his third consecutive year hosting).

I normally ignore the Tony Awards unless a film actor I like wins or is nominated. Tom Hanks received a “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play” for his performance in the play, Lucky Guy. He lost to Tracy Letts for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I did note that half the acting categories: Best Actress in a Play, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Play, went to African-American performers. Kinky Boots, with its score by 1980s pop music sensation, Cyndi Lauper, was the night’s big winner, receiving 6 awards out of a leading 13 nominations. Of course, Kinky Boots is based on the 2006 film of the same name, which is based on a true story.  I got the winners list from

2013 Tony Awards – Winners (in bold) and Nominees:

Best Musical:
Bring It On: The Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical
Kinky Boots WINNER
Matilda: The Musical

Best Book of a Musical
A Christmas Story, The Musical, Joseph Robinette
Kinky Boots, Harvey Fierstein
Matilda: The Musical WINNER

Best Play
The Assembled Parties
Lucky Guy
The Testament of Mary
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike WINNER

Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
The Trip to Bountiful
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? WINNER

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? WINNER
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, ANN
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful WINNER

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda: The Musical
Santino Fontana, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots WINNER
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown: The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin WINNER
Laura Osnes, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Danny Burstein, Golden Boy
Richard Kind, The Big Knife
Billy Magnussen,Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tony Shalhoub, Golden Boy
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy WINNER

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Carrie Coon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Shalita Grant, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Judith Ivey, The Heiress
Judith Light, The Assembled Parties WINNER
Condola Rashad, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
Charl Brown, Motown: The Musical
Keith Carradine, Hands on a Hardbody
Will Chase, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Gabriel Ebert, Matilda: The Musical WINNER
Terrence Mann, Pippin

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Annaleigh Ashford, Kinky Boots
Victoria Clark, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Andrea Martin, Pippin WINNER
Keala Settle, Hands on a Hardbody
Lauren Ward, Matilda: The Musical

Best Direction of a Play
Pam MacKinnon, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? WINNER
Nicholas Martin, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Bartlett Sher, Golden Boy
George C. Wolfe, Lucky Guy

Best Direction of a Musical
Scott Ellis, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots
Diane Paulus, Pippin WINNER
Matthew Warchus, Matilda: The Musical

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theater
A Christmas Story, The Musical, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
Hands on a Hardbody, music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green; lyrics by Amanda Green
Kinky Boots, music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper WINNER

Best Scenic Design of a Play
John Lee Beatty, The Nance WINNER
Santo Loquasto, The Assembled Parties
David Rockwell, Lucky Guy
Michael Yeargan, Golden Boy

Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Rob Howell, Matilda: The Musical WINNER
Anna Louizos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Scott Pask, Pippin
David Rockwell, Kinky Boots

Best Costume Design of a Play
Soutra Gilmour, Cyrano de Bergerac
Ann Roth, The Nance WINNER
Albert Wolsky, The Heiress
Catherine Zuber, Golden Boy

Best Costume Design of a Musical
Gregg Barnes, Kinky Boots
Rob Howell, Matilda: The Musical
Dominique Lemieux, Pippin
William Ivey Long, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella WINNER

Best Lighting Design of a Play
Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhauer, Lucky Guy WINNER
Donald Holder, Golden Boy
Jennifer Tipton, The Testament of Mary
Japhy Weideman, The Nance

Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kenneth Posner, Kinky Boots
Kenneth Posner, Pippin
Kenneth Posner, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella
Hugh Vanstone, Matilda: The Musical WINNER

Best Sound Design of a Play
John Gromada, The Trip to Bountiful
Mel Mercier, The Testament of Mary
Leon Rothenberg, The Nance WINNER
Peter John Still and Marc Salzberg, Golden Boy

Best Sound Design of a Musical
Jonathan Deans & Garth Helm, Pippin
Peter Hylenski, Motown: The Musical
John Shivers, Kinky Boots WINNER
Nevin Steinberg, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

Best Choreography
Andy Blankenbuehler, Bring It On: The Musical
Peter Darling, Matilda: The Musical
Jerry Mitchell, Kinky Boots WINNER
Chet Walker, Pippin

Best Orchestrations
Chris Nightingale, Matilda: The Musical
Stephen Oremus, Kinky Boots WINNER
Ethan Popp & Bryan Crook, Motown: The Musical
Danny Troob, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella

* * *
Recipients of Awards and Honors in Non-competitive Categories

Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre:
Bernard Gersten
Paul Libin
Ming Cho Lee

Regional Theatre Award:
Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, M.A.

Isabelle Stevenson Award:
Larry Kramer

Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre:
Career Transition for Dancers
William Craver
Peter Lawrence
The Lost Colony

The four actresses who created the title role of Matilda the Musical on Broadway: Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro

Thursday, January 3, 2013

African-American Film Critics Honor "Zero Dark Thirty"

The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) chose Zero Dark Thirty as the "Best Picture" of 2012, but honored the director of Argo, Ben Affleck, as "Best Director." The AAFCA is a group of African-American film critics that give various awards for excellence in film at the end of each year. The association was founded in 2003 by Gil L. Robertson IV and Shawn Edwards.

2012 African-American Film Critics Association Awards:

Best Picture: "Zero Dark Thirty"

Best Director: Ben Affleck, "Argo"

Best Actress: Emayatzy Corinealdi, "Middle of Nowhere"

Best Actor: Denzel Washington, "Flight"

Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field, "Lincoln"

Best Supporting Actor: Nate Parker, "Arbitrage"

Best Screenplay: Ava DuVernay, "Middle of Nowhere"

Best Foreign Language Film: "The Intouchables" (France)

Best Documentary: (tie) "The House I Live In" and "Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution"

Best Animated Feature: "Rise of the Guardians"

Best Independent Film: "Middle of Nowhere"

Best Breakthrough Performer: Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Best Music: Kathryn Bostic and Morgan Rhodes, "Middle of Nowhere"

Special Achievement Awards: Cicely Tyson and Billy Dee Williams

Top 10:
1. "Zero Dark Thirty"

2. "Argo"

3. "Lincoln"

4. "Middle of Nowhere"

5. "Life of Pi"

6. "Les Misérables"

7. "Django Unchained"

8. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

9. "Moonrise Kingdom"

10. "Think Like a Man"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Women Film Critics Favor "The Help" and "The Iron Lady"

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of women film critics, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. Founded in 2004, this group is the first women critics’ organization in the United States.

2011 Women Film Critics Circle Awards:

WINNERS: (tie) The Iron Lady and We Need To Talk About Kevin
The Whistleblower

WINNER: The Help
Albert Nobbs
Rid Of Me

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER - Screenwriting Award
WINNER: The Iron Lady [Abi Morgan]
In The Land Of Blood And Honey [Angelina Jolie]
Pariah [Dee Reese]
We Need To Talk About Kevin [Lynne Ramsay]

WINNER: Viola Davis: The Help
Jessica Chastain: The Debt/The Help
Meryl Streep: The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton: We Need To Talk About Kevin

WINNER: George Clooney: The Descendants
Jean Dujardin: The Artist
Tom Hardy: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy/Warrior
Ryan Gosling: Drive, The Ides Of March

WINNER: Melissa McCarthy: Bridesmaids
Katie O’Grady: Rid Of Me
Sarah Jessica Parker: I Don’t Know How She Does It
Kristen Wiig: Bridesmaids

WINNER: Shailene Woodley: The Descendants
Jordana Beatty: Judy Moody
Liana Liberato: Trust
Amara Miller: The Descendants

WINNER: The Hedgehog
A Separation
In The Land Of Blood And Honey
When We Leave

WINNER: The Whistleblower
Albert Nobbs
The Iron Lady
Soul Surfer

WINNER (?): Melancholia
Jack And Jill
My Week With Marilyn
Young Adult

WINNER: The Descendants
Meet Monica Velour
Of Gods And Men

WINNER (?): The Hangover 2
No Strings Attached
The Skin I Live In
Straw Dogs

WINNER: Always Faithful
The Price Of Sex
The Woman With The Five Elephants
Women Art Revolution

Judy Moody
The Muppets
The Adventures of Tintin

WINNER: Puss N Boots 3D
Arthur Christmas
Gnomeo And Juliet
Kung Fu Panda 2

WINNER: The Debt
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Iron Lady
Midnight In Paris

COURAGE IN ACTING - Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen
WINNER: Glenn Close: Albert Nobbs
Josiane Balasko: The Hedgehog
Mimi Chakarova: The Price Of Sex
Tilda Swinton: We Need To Talk About Kevin

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD - Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored
WINNER (tie): Miral: Hiram Abbass and Meeks Cutoff: Michelle Williams
Danai Gurira: 3 Backyards
Red Shirley

WINNER: The Help
Albert Nobbs
The Whistleblower

WINNER: The Artist: Berenice Bejo and Jean Dujardin
Gnomeo And Juliet
The Iron Lady
Like Crazy

WINNERS: (tie) Kathy Bates and Cicely Tyson
Hiam Abbass
Michelle Yeoh

WINNER: Elizabeth Taylor
Mia Farrow
Daryl Hannah
Alfre Woodard

ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD - For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women
WINNER: The Whistleblower
In A Better World
In The Land Of Blood And Honey
Life, Above All

JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD - For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
WINNER: The Help
3 Backyards

KAREN MORLEY AWARD - For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
WINNER: Albert Nobbs
The Conspirator
Meek’s Cutoff
Snow Flower And The Secret Fan

Judi Dench: J. Edgar

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Can't Do Without "The Help" Movie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 103 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Help (2011)
Running time: 146 minutes (2 hours, 26 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic material
DIRECTOR: Tate Taylor
WRITER: Tate Taylor (based upon the novel by Kathryn Stockett)
PRODUCERS: Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, and Brunson Green
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Stephen Goldblatt (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Hughes Winborne
COMPOSER: Thomas Newman

DRAMA with elements of comedy

Starring: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O’Reilly, Allison Janney, Anna Camp, Eleanor and Emma Henry (twins), Chris Lowell, Cicely Tyson, Mike Vogel, Sissy Spacek, Brian Kerwin, Aunjanue Ellis, Leslie Jordan, Nelsan Ellis, and David Oyelowo

The Help is a 2011 historical drama that is based on the 2009 bestselling novel, The Help, from author Kathryn Stockett. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, the film focuses on an aspiring author who decides to write a book detailing the experiences of the Black women who work as maids in the homes of White families.

After graduating from Ole Miss, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. She takes a job at a local newspaper writing a “homemaker hints” advice column. However, Skeeter’s mother, Charlotte (Allison Janney), wants her daughter to (1) be a southern society girl and (2) find a husband. Skeeter reconnects with her vacuous childhood friends who are all now young mothers and form a clique led by the snooty Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard).

Two things change Skeeter’s life. She does not believe her mother’s story about why Constantine Bates (Cicely Tyson), the beloved black maid who raised Skeeter, left the family. Skeeter also becomes uncomfortable with the attitude of her friends towards “the help,” the African-American maids who cook and clean for white folks, as well as parent their bosses’ children. Hilly becomes obsessed with the notion that the help not use their bosses’ bathrooms, so she launches the “Home Help Sanitation Initiative” a law that would require that homes have separate bathrooms for the help.

In response, Skeeter approaches Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), the maid of her friend, Elizabeth Leefolt (Ahna O’Reilly), and asks her if she would mind being interviewed about her life spent taking care of other people’s homes. Reluctant at first, Aibileen consents and is also able to convince another maid, the sassy Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), to contribute. As the women forge an unlikely friendship, they get caught in a turbulent time of change and the Civil Rights Movement.

Writer/director Tate Taylor often plays upon the proverbial “quiet dignity” of the Black maids, but his film comes on like a locomotive, because behind the quiet dignity is steely determination. This movie has such power to convey its messages and its ideas that I sometimes felt physically unprepared for the emotional toll it had on me – whether those emotions were happy or sad. I say that The Help is well-written and directed and has a number of exceptional performances because of its ability to convey with authenticity story, character, and setting.

As for the performances: Jessica Chastain is a scene-stealer as Celia Foote, the naïve young wife with child-bearing issues. Chastain crafts Celia as a struggle between the strength underneath and the soft-hearted nature that is the candy-coating. Bryce Dallas Howard is white-hot evil as the snotty racist, Hilly Holbrook, but she frequently and subtly reveals the character’s humanity at surprising moments.

Sadly, I see Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer’s bravura performances getting lost during the movie critics and film industry awards season. Emma Stone’s Skeeter is The Help’s bridge between the two separate worlds of Black and White, and she is a player on all sides of a class conflict. However, Viola Davis’ Aibileen Clark is this movie’s true anchor. Not only does Davis give a great performance, but she also embodies in Aibileen the toughness that makes an oppressed people both survive the evil ruling class and have the true grit to fight that evil.

Octavia Spencer’s Minny Jackson is simply one of those great supporting characters whose fight and spunk define the central conflict in a movie. At the end of the day, she’s not going to take anything from anyone that is the wrong thing, and The Help is about getting to what is the right thing. While Emma Stone gives a good performance, it is easy to see how she gets lost in a sea of superb performances, although Skeeter is the most important player – the central character that connects the disparate parts.

If I had to point to the one thing that makes The Help a grand film, it is that the emotions are genuine; they feel real. Writer/director Tate Taylor and his cast create a series of moments and scenes that come together to weave a narrative, one which comes to life with a sense of authenticity. When Aibileen talks about her son’s tragedy; when Minny fights her husband and employers; when Aibileen has to step to the side while grocery shopping; when Celia Foote yearns for a child; when Skeeter angrily explains to her mother the wrong done to Constantine, it all feels real. It is as if The Help were a true story. In a way, it is a true story, one told with fictional characters from a real time and place. That is why The Help is a bona fide standout in a field of fantasias and made-up stuff movies.

9 of 10

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Viola Davis Justified! "The Help" Skips Past $100 Million Mark

“The Help” Surpasses $100M at Domestic Box Office

DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media’s Empowering Film Engages Audiences Nationwide

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DreamWorks Pictures announced today that its inspiring film “The Help” has surpassed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. “The Help,” directed and written for the screen by Tate Taylor, is based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett.

Ever since opening in the U.S. on August 10th, “The Help” has been a strong contender for the top spot on the domestic box office chart and has resonated with audiences around the country, sparking conversation and comments across all media platforms from such notables as Oprah, Scott Fujita, Tyler Perry, Russell Simmons, Katy Perry, Diane Sawyer, Jason Whitlock, Jackie Jackson and others.

Commenting on the widespread popularity of the film, Director Tate Taylor says, “We never imagined this film, which began its journey inspired by the enthusiasm of a small group of Mississippi friends, would ever even get made. Now to have it seen and embraced by so many people is just beyond our wildest dreams.”

Adds Dave Hollis, Executive Vice President, Motion Picture Sales & Distribution, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, “This achievement is a testament to an amazing ensemble cast and a wonderfully told story that has played well to men and women, young and old, resonating in a cross-section of all theaters be they urban, upscale or heartland. The viral power of word-of-mouth has us hopeful that we’ll continue to see ‘The Help’ exposed to as broad an audience as possible in the coming months.”

“The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. Also starring Bryce Dallas Howard (“Hereafter”), Allison Janney (“Juno”), Academy Award®–winner Sissy Spacek (“In the Bedroom,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter”) and Jessica Chastain (“Tree of Life”), “The Help” is deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope—a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.

Rounding out the cast are Ahna O’Reilly (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Cicely Tyson (“Sounder,” “Fried Green Tomatoes”), Chris Lowell (“Up in the Air”), Mike Vogel (“Blue Valentine”), Aunjanue Ellis (“Ray”) and Mary Steenburgen (“Did You Hear About the Morgans?).

From DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment, in association with Participant Media and Imagenation Abu Dhabi, “The Help” was produced by Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan.

“The Help” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Review: Why Did I Get Married Too?

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 of (2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010)
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minute)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic material including sexuality, language, drug references and some domestic violence
PRODUCERS: Tyler Perry and Reuben Cannon
EDITOR: Maysie Hoy

DRAMA with elements of comedy

Starring: Tyler Perry, Janet Jackson, Jill Scott, Sharon Neal, Malik Yoba, Richard T. Jones, Tasha Smith, Lamman Rucker, Michael Jai White, Louis Gossett Jr., Cicely Tyson, Richard Whiten, and K Callan

We last saw them in the 2007 film, Why Did I Get Married?, working through marriage and relationship issues at a beautiful house in the snowy mountains of Colorado. Now, Why Did I Get Married Too? reunites those four close couples. They have gathered together in the Bahamas for their annual one-week reunion. They’re eager to reconnect and share news about their lives and relationships, but there are some changes and looming troubles.

Best-selling author and popular psychologist, Patricia (Janet Jackson), and her successful architect husband, Gavin (Malik Yoba), show their friends smiles, but their marriage is deeply troubled. Successful attorney, Dianne (Sharon Leal) and her supportive husband, Terry (Tyler Perry), once had sexless marriage, but while there is now plenty of lovemaking, a secret threatens to destroy their union.

Angela (Tasha Smith) and Marcus (Michael Jai White) still argue all the time, but now Marcus has a successful new career as a television sports commentator. Angela, who once criticized Marcus for not having a job, is now jealous that Marcus makes more money than she does, and that envy drives her suspicious that he is cheating on her.

Shelia (Jill Scott) replaced her emotionally abusive and philandering husband, Mike (Richard T. Jones), with the former Colorado sheriff, Troy (Lamman Rucker). However, a recent move, a new baby, and Troy’s difficulty finding a job have put a strain on their marriage. Then, Mike also decides to visit the Bahamas.

2007’s Why Did I Get Married? was a scandalous relationship comedy and engaging reunion drama. It had plenty of soap opera theatrics and over-the-top drama with a capitol “D.” Why Did I Get Married Too? is also filled with theatrics and big “D” drama, but this second film is also darker and edgier. These squabbling couples now have even bigger problems, problems that would give marriage counselors pause. In each case, husband and wife are unsatisfied with each other, and instead of talking through their problems, they scream at each other, rant and rave, and storm out the door.

It’s fun to watch… sometimes. Other times, it’s painful to watch – not only because the anger is so raw, but also because sometimes the couples’ problems seemed contrived. This might be Tyler Perry’s best effort at writing emotional character drama and at constructing multi-layered conflict. This may also be his worst screenwriting simply because the quarreling and marital problems come across as greatly exaggerated. Perry packs this movie’s two hours with wall-to-wall marital discord; then, he ties it up with a pat happy ending that simply cannot wash away the grit Why Did I Get Married Too? leaves in the viewer’s mouth.

This is still a Tyler Perry movie, so it is entertaining, and there is also a cameo at the end that adds much needed sweet to the previous two hour’s sour. Still, with all the arguing the characters do here, the question is not Why Did I Get Married Too? but why are any of them still married!

6 of 10

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

Review: "Madea's Family Reunion" a Black Family Film Classic

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 48 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion (2006)
Opening date: Friday, February 24, 2006
MPAA – PG-13 for mature thematic material, domestic violence, and sex and drug references
DIRECTOR: Tyler Perry
WRITER: Tyler Perry (based upon his play)
PRODUCERS: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry
EDITOR: John Carter


Starring: Tyler Perry, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Rochelle Aytes, Lynn Whitfield, Blair Underwood, Boris Kodjoe, Keke Palmer, Henry Simmons, Mablean Ephriam, Cicely Tyson, and Maya Angelou

Southern matriarch Madea (Tyler Perry) is normally an unstoppable force, but she finds her hands full with a court ordered foster child, Nikki (Keke Palmer). Then, Madea also has to contend with planning a family reunion. That’s not enough on her plate, however; her nieces, sisters Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) and Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson), are having relationship problems. Lisa is engaged to marry Carlos (Blair Underwood), a wealthy investment banker who constantly hits and abuses her. Vanessa has finally found a good man Frankie (Boris Kodjoe), but she can’t quite bring herself to trust him no matter how good he is. Most of that distrust is based on her relationship with her and Lisa’s mother, Victoria (Lynn Whitfield), a desperate gold digger who is willing to marry Lisa off to an abusive husband like Carlos just so that he can take care of both Lisa and her. With the family reunion and dark secrets coming out of every clash between Victoria and her daughters, Madea has to use all her tricks to organize the reunion and hope God can cover the rest.

Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion is technically a better composed film than the previous adaptation of one Perry’s plays to screen, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Family Reunion is not as funny as Dairy, although there are lots of laughs, in particularly the scenes between Madea and her foster child Nikki. However, the emphasis here is on the various relationship combinations involving Victoria, Lisa, Vanessa, Frankie, and/or Carlos, and boy, are there fireworks. The combination of soap opera hysteria and melodramatic theatrics is not only over-the-top, but also often just too damn much. The conflicts, feuds, personal demons, etc. may not match up to the commotion that is sometimes real life, but the story here is a bit of a spectacle even for film.

Still, some of it rings true. Tyler Perry’s plays are what’s known by some as “Black Gospel Theatre,” in which characters, mostly poor and working class black folk, beset by all manner of personal setbacks, dilemmas, tribulations, obstacles, etc. have to fight their way out using both inner strength and their faith in (the Christian) God, with an emphasis on both healing and faith. This might put some off, especially those who aren’t particularly religious, but this kind of Christian and prayer oriented African-American drama appeals to many working class Americans, especially blacks, but increasingly whites.

The two film adaptations, like the plays, focus on female characters, but the message is universal. While women make up a large part of Madea’s Family Reunion’s audience, men can find messages and teachings aimed at them. Perry uses Madea as comic relief, but the character isn’t a clown. She spouts wisdom, most of it very practical and useful, between feeding her guests and arguing with Cousin Joe (Perry). This makes the film half-comedy and half-religious inflected drama.

The cast of Family reunion might overact (Lynn Whitfield in particular), and some may not be really good actresses (Lisa Arrindell Anderson), but they make the occasionally overheated drama and often-inflamed dramatics work. It’s palatable; one can feel that Blair Underwood (a very good actor short on work because he’s black) is ready to strike out at anyone who gets in his way. So Madea’s Family Reunion might be a crazy family drama, and it does go overboard; still, its good intentions don’t pave a road to hell, and the movie just works.

Besides, there’s always Madea herself for a good time, and maybe that’s what Madea’s Family Reunion needed – more Madea. I don’t know why playing fat-lady drag appeals to so many black comedians, but like Martin Lawrence in the Big Momma’s House franchise, Tyler Perry does it well. Family Reunion is at its best when Madea is being politically incorrect and giving more mouthy adolescents some good old-fashioned beatings; that would have meant an even better film. So here is one call for more Madea. Maybe next time.

7 of 10

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" Funny and True

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 103 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
Running time: 116 minutes (1 hour, 56 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for drug content, thematic elements, crude sexual references, and some violence
DIRECTOR: Darren Grant
WRITER: Tyler Perry (based upon his play)
PRODUCERS: Reuben Cannon and Tyler Perry
EDITOR: Terilyn A. Shropshire

DRAMA/COMEDY/RELIGIOUS (CHRISTIAN) with elements of romance

Starring: Kimberly Elise, Steve Harris, Tyler Perry, Shemar Moore, Cicely Tyson, Tamara Taylor, Lisa Marcos, Tiffany Evans, and Judge Mablean Ephriam

On the surface, Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) seemingly has the perfect life, living in a big mansion with her husband Charles McCarter (Steve Harris), a powerful Atlanta attorney, but even she knows that trouble is also bubbling beneath that same surface. All of a sudden Charles wants a divorce, and he kicks her out of their home on the eve of their 18th wedding anniversary and replaces her with a woman who has, unbeknownst to Helen, had two children for Charles. Helen is forced to return to “the ghetto,” where she finds refuge with the relatives Charles made her give up long ago because they didn’t fit in with his new high, life style. Helen finds solace and some comedy in the tragedy of her life through the insane antics of her pot smoking, gun toting, and much beloved grandmother figure, Madea (Tyler Perry). Helen also reunites with her mother, Myrtle (Cicely Tyson) , meets a new man, Orlando (Shemar Moore), and begins to keep a journal of her trial, tribulations, and recovery – The Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Tyler Perry has made a name and a fortune for himself (after being homeless early in his career) with his black southern gospel theatre stage plays – six of them going back to 2000. Diary of a Mad Black Woman was first staged in 2001, and a recording of the Diary stage performance became part of a hit DVD series of Tyler Perry stage plays. After Fox Searchlight rejected Perry’s screenplay adaptation of Diary, he submitted it to Lions Gate Film, which green lit the project back in the Spring 2004, and for that we’re lucky.

The quality of the acting is mixed. For instance, Kimberly Elise’s voiceovers are dry, and Tyler Perry’s over-the-top antics, which may work well on the stage (I’ve never seen one of his plays performed live), is occasionally too forced even for the big screen. The script is also a bit dry, but makes some wonderful points about charity, forgiveness, Christianity, love, family, and marriage. Darren Grant’s directing holds the film together even through the clunky bits. However, the film ultimately comes together as a fabulous inspirational look at coming to terms with the trials of life, but most importantly coming to terms with one’s family: the one into which we are born, the ones which adopt us, and the ones into which we marry.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman is inspiring, uplifting, shocking, provocative, and always surprising. The message is familiar, but the ways in which the film gets us there is never dull and 99.9 percent of the time engaging. Although this is a film with a predominately black or African-American cast, Diary is universal and good for all Christian souls, even both the nominal and the sanctimonious ones.

7 of 10