February 06, 2014

Jenna Fryer

AP Auto Racing Writer


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Rapper 50 Cent is bringing his headphones and audio line into NASCAR via a partnership with Swan Racing.

The rapper — born Curtis Jackson — will have branding for his SMS Audio line on both of Swan Racing's cars. The logos will also be on the uniforms for Parker Kligerman and Cole Whitt, and the drivers will be featured on Swan-branded SMS Audio headphones.

The partnership also calls for 50 Cent to make appearances at races throughout the 2014 season, although the rapper is no stranger to the Daytona 500. He made headlines when he awkwardly attempted to kiss Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews on the starting grid for the Daytona 500.

But NASCAR seems to be a fit for Jackson, particularly this partnership with Swan Racing, which is owned by Brandon Davis, the CEO of independent oil and gas company Swan Energy.

Jackson is an admitted former crack dealer turned rapper who has built an empire beyond entertainment. He invested early in Vitamin Water and has expanded his business interests into clothing and now audio equipment.

"I'm an entrepreneur, 50's an entrepreneur and it's a good fit for both of us," Swan Racing team owner Brandon Davis said Tuesday. "This partnership broadens our reach and gets us into a whole new market and I believe that holds true for them, as well. If we both do this correctly, it should be a mutually beneficial relationship."

The deal is the latest for Davis, who is transforming the organization he purchased in late 2012. A former start-and-park team, he set a goal of racing in every event. Then he signed Bill Romanowski as an investor, and most recently added Iowa businessman Anthony Marlowe as a minority owner.

Davis has also expanded to two cars for the 2014 season and hired a pair of young drivers in Whitt and Kligerman.

The relationship with SMS Audio was put together by Illinois-based Pegasus Marketing Group, which works with the race team and 50 Cent's company. Davis has yet to meet the rapper — their discussions have on the telephone because of scheduling conflicts — but Jackson said in a statement he's excited about the venture.

"Swan Racing and its up-and-coming drivers are the perfect match for SMS Audio," the rapper said. "They are as passionate for the sport of racing as we are for our audio products, and we're confident that the music-loving NASCAR fan base is going to enjoy our headphones."

Davis hopes Swan's partnership with the prolific rapper can bring attention to his fledgling race team. Davis said he spent "10 times the amount of money I planned" on his inaugural NASCAR season, and has been trying different avenues to bring in more marketing opportunities for his team.

"We did everything we said we were going to do, and paid all our bills. It was just more difficult than I expected," Davis said. "NASCAR is an entrepreneur's dream. It's a good platform because you can be creative with the way you bring money into your team and work partnerships. The structure opens the door for entrepreneurs to come in and use this platform for different kinds of marketing opportunities, and this is one of them."

Swan Racing was a one-car team last season, primarily with David Stremme. The team had five top-20 finishes. Expanding to two teams has required doubling the team personnel, and a larger investment, which Davis is still doing without steady sponsorship.

"It's been a lot of fun for me, a lot of pleasure, but from a marketing standpoint it has been very hard," he said. "I would grade my experience as an A, but my performance as a D and we are working hard to improve that. The hope is that in partnerships with Anthony Marlowe and SMS Audio, we are doing a better job and making some inroads."


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 06, 2014

LAWT Wire Services


“American Masters – Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth,” which traces the author’s personal and professional journey from her birth into a family of sharecroppers in Eatonton, Ga., premieres nationally Friday, February 7 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Walker made history as the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her seminal novel The Color Purple (1982), for which she won the National Book Award.

Presented on PBS in honor of Walker’s 70th birthday and Black History Month, filmmakerPratibha Parmar’s new documentary tells Walker’s dramatic life story with poetry and lyricism, and features new interviews with Walker, Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover,Quincy Jones, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire and the late Howard Zinn in one of his final interviews.

“As a filmmaker, one of the deepest desires is to engage the audience in the conversation unfolding on screen. I am thrilled to offer this in ‘Beauty In Truth,’ where Alice’s openness, warmth and on-screen intimacy reflects our long history of kinship,” said Parmar. “Making ‘Beauty In Truth’ has been an adventure of discovery and sheer inspiration. I’m so pleased it will have a national audience on American Masters.”

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Category: Arts & Culture

February 06, 2014

LAWT Wire Services


Erica Campbell will exclusively debut her new music video “Help,” this Monday on VH1 Soul and VH1.com.

The video, created by legendary and iconic director Bille Woodruff, will premiere at 6:00am EST on VH1 Soul and will run every hour (on the hour) all day.

The video will also be available on line exclusively on VH1.com.

Shot in HD, Campbell looked absolutely stunning in the Woodruff led video that features breakthrough rapper Lecrae and her daughter Krista Campbell. As always Erica stays relevant in her delivery with this right-on-time ballad that is coupled with Lecrae’s poignant rap and Woodruff’s beautiful aesthetic shines. The collaboration is memorable and a sure fire hit for both in Gospel and urban platforms.

Campbell continues to travel the country promoting the release of her upcoming solo album, HELP, which hits stores March 25th as well as the start of the third season of her hit WEtv show “Mary Mary” on February 27th. Erica will also be hitting the road this spring with a series of solo performances in Washington DC, New York and Atlanta.

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Category: Arts & Culture

February 06, 2014

LAWT Wire Services


12 Years a Slave’ Director Steve McQueen has joined forces with the world’s oldest human rights organization.

The filmmaker will act as an ambassador for Anti-Slavery International, a committee set up in 1839 to lobby against slavery and related abuses.

He met with officials at the group’s headquarters in London on Monday (Feb. 3) and declared his intention to highlight the importance of working against modern-day slavery across the globe.

Referring to the hero of his Oscar-nominated movie, Solomon Northup, the free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, he said, “Right now, there are Solomon Northups in every region of the world who have been taken away from their families and placed in slavery.

“I hope that, 150 years from now, a film will not be made about our ambivalence to slavery. We have to do something about it.”

He also hosted a private viewing of the movie for Members of Parliament, and urged politicians to add Northup’s book about his horrific experiences to the curriculum in England’s schools.

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Category: Arts & Culture

February 06, 2014

By: Nicole Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer


It’s the classic one-night-stand-turns-something-more story – where the “rules” of a relationship fluctuate and reflect the more contemporary world we live in today. What is the fine line when it comes to beginning and maintaining a relationship? How does someone properly deal with the feelings of another?

Taking place in downtown Los Angeles, the more risqué adult-love movie “About Last Night” explored a few angles on how some deal with relationships and the vulnerability that comes with it. Based off the original 1986 film “About Last Night” starring Demi Moore, the movie reunited part of the cast of “Think Like A Man,” Kevin Hart, Regina Hall and Michael Ealy. The cast was also complimented by Joy Bryant.  Kevin Hart plays Bernie, the loud-mouthed friend to Danny, the slightly heartbroken good guy who is played by Michael Ealy. Regina Hall plays Joan who is the more passionate and sometimes outlandish friend of Debbie, played by Joy Bryant who is the successful businesswoman and the more grounded and reserved of the two. Bernie and Joan play a more dysfunctional love interest pair, while Danny and Debbie play the more conventional love interest pair. It’s hard to say exactly what’s normal in a relationship and the cast agrees that there are different ways to view the “rules” of relationships.

“I think it depends on who you are, the person you’re dealing with and also like my grandmother used to say, ‘you make your bed, you lie in it.’ If that’s what you want to do, there may or may not be consequences for your actions,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s character of Debbie explores the way she deals with a relationship that started off of a one-night stand. Bryant, who’s been married for around 6 years, jokes that the opportunity to work in a lot of movies that require romantic scenes is “legal cheating.” Her and Ealy’s connection in the movie was undeniable and super steamy as the movie was filled with a lot of sex scenes.

“Our thing was sort of like ‘You kiss with tongue? Yeah, okay it’s fine?’ Those are the technical things you want to get out of the way when you’re doing love scenes,” Bryant said.

Both Debbie and Danny’s relationship in the movie goes through its ups and downs and reveal certain relatable moments to how people deal with certain feelings in a relationship. Ealy, who recently got married in 2012, says he can relate to his character Danny in more than one way.

“What I realized was how happy I was that I have evolved and matured beyond this phase. The character of Danny is definitely informed by me in my 20s. Danny is 28 in the movie, I was 28 when I was like Danny,” Ealy said.  “I think for me, I just didn’t have the maturity like Danny to confront whatever issues I have with work or anything else that’s going on in my life. I didn’t have the ability to handle it, so I took it out on whoever I was with in ways just like Danny…ignoring them, becoming curt, just blaming them, running from the issue and being pretty bad at communicating my problems,” he continued.

In the movie, Danny and Bernie are best friends. Bernie spends a lot of time coaching up Danny to go after the “single and mingle” status. The resistant Danny perseveres against the pestering ways of Bernie, who happens to have romantic issues of his own.

Bernie’s love interest, Joan is his dysfunctional match. She’s extremely passionate and very vocal about what she wants from Bernie, while Bernie puts on an act that he doesn’t have the exact same feelings for her. Hall said that it was fun working with Hart and comfortable.

“We just had the opportunity to discover some stuff about us that we didn’t even know. We had so much fun and we had a lot of comfort,” Hall said.

Hall says she’s been through her own bad break up years ago. As a result, she got into yoga as a way to fuel her energy into something else. In a sex scene with Hart, Hall’s leg is behind her head, making everyone wonder, was that really her leg?

“We improv’d a lot. We had fun improvising. There’s stuff that wasn’t in the script that we did. That was my leg behind my head,” Hall laughs.

Both Hall and Hart brought the comedic element to the movie. The connection between the two was explosive. When one wasn’t making the audience laugh, the other was and the two still laugh at their performances on set today.  Ealy mentioned a swimming scene in the movie where Danny and Bernie are in the pool taking a lap, which was right up Hart’s alley.

“For the shot, we put him (Ealy) like four body lengths in front of me. And said action!” Hart said.

Hart beat Ealy in that lap in the pool and says it’s because he’s a hotshot when it comes to swimming.

“I swam all my youth.  Made it into the Junior Olympics and everything. Real deal,” Hart said.

The cast of “About Last Night” share an electric chemistry with many more riveting and hilarious scenes. Check it out in theaters nationwide on February 14.

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Category: Arts & Culture

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