April 25, 2013
By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO
City News Service
An attorney for Michael Jackson's personal physician appealed the doctor's involuntary manslaughter conviction on Monday, arguing prosecutors failed to prove the King of Pop was on a propofol drip the day he died and that the trial judge excluded critical testimony. Conrad Murray, who is barred from practicing medicine, was convicted in November 2011 for administering a fatal dose of the powerful anesthetic to Jackson in the bedroom of the singer's rented Holmby Hills estate on June 25, 2009. Jackson was staying in the Los Angeles area while rehearsing for a
planned London concert series, dubbed ``This Is It.”
A last-minute theory in the case offered by the prosecution's anesthesiology expert was ``absurd, improbable and unbelievable,'' and not supported by physical evidence, according to the 231-page appeal. The prosecution contended that Murray, now 60, put the pop star on a continuous drip of propofol, left his patient alone and unmonitored, and Jackson went into respiratory arrest. But defense attorney Valerie Wass maintains in the appeal that Murray had been weaning the 50-year-old Jackson off propofol for three days and only gave him a small injection -- 25 milligrams -- to help him sleep before putting him on a saline drip. When Murray left the room, Jackson, desperate for sleep, self-injected a second dose, leading to cardiac arrest, Wass argued.
The appeal cites technical details from toxicology reports to support the defense contention that a quick heart attack, rather than respiratory arrest, was the cause of the performer's death. The prosecution's theory could have ``been blown apart'' by a forensic analysis of a 100-milliliter bottle that would have to contain both propofol
and the painkiller lidocaine to uphold prosecutors' arguments, Wass contended. Defense attorneys asked for that analysis 11 days after the jury returned its verdict. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor denied the motion, saying the bottle had ``been around since the inception of the case.''
But the coroner's report said the bottle was empty, Wass argued in her appeal. It wasn't until the prosecution presented a new theory during testimony by a final rebuttal witness that the composition of drugs in the bottle became relevant. The prosecution's ``11th-hour tactic left the defense in a position where it had no real opportunity to present any effective defense to this novel theory,'' according to the appeal.
``As a result, the jury was left with the impression the rebuttal theory was a viable one, when in fact, it was entirely unsubstantiated.''
Wass said prosecutors withdrew their request for more than $101 million in restitution after the defense filed another motion to have the bottle tested during the restitution phase of the case. Prosecutors told the jury that even if Jackson had injected himself, Murray was responsible for his death because the physician should have realized that Jackson might do so if left alone with access to the drug. But according to Wass' appeal, Jackson had shown he understood the need to be monitored while taking the powerful drug, so Murray couldn't have predicted the pop star would use a syringe on his own.
The appeal also argues that Murray's trial co-counsel, J. Michael Flanagan, failed to adequately cross-examine the expert rebuttal witness or call for timely testing of the bottle. Wass and Flanagan were Murray's co-counsel on the appeal -- and were also romantically involved, according to court documents filed in another case -- until Flanagan resigned and sought a restraining order against Wass. Wass is under court order to stay at least 200 yards away from her former colleague.
The appeal in the Murray case also raised concerns about evidence not admitted at trial, including testimony about Jackson's use of Demerol and the pop icon's financial condition.
``The jury, however, was not allowed to learn that when Jackson died, he owed (concert promoter) AEG close to $40 million, there were more than 30 lawsuits pending against him and he owed millions of dollars to the IRS,'' the appeal argued.
That information showed that the performer had ``the weight of the world on his shoulders'' and was desperate to get enough sleep to be able to perform and fulfill his upcoming concert commitment, according to the appeal. Wass cited an email from concert director Kenneth Ortega to AEG Live CEO Brandon Phillips to illustrate Jackson's desperate state of mind.
``It would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug,'' Ortega wrote.
``He is terribly frightened it's all going to go away. He asked me repeatedly tonight if I was going to leave him. ... He was like a lost boy. There still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs.''
Finally, the appeal contends that the jury should have been sequestered to ensure a fair trial and that the court imposed a harsher sentence in order to make an example of a defendant in a high-profile case. Murray, convicted Nov. 7, 2011, is serving a four-year sentence in Men's Central Jail, but is expected to be released Oct. 28, according to the Sheriff's Department's inmate information website.
By Nicole Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
If there ever was a show that positively represented the elements of what Black relationships should be, then YouTube sensation ‘The Couple’ is that show.
‘The Couple’ is apart of Black and Sexy TV, a network that was created by Numa Perrier and Dennis Dortch. According to its website, it is “a network established to provide viewing audiences a more accurate depiction of black culture.” It also says their shows focus on love and relationships in the Black community.
The show is compiled of web episodes and mini episodes all centered on a Black couple and the daily situations they go through, which can be anything and everything. It can be as simple as a living situation like which side of the bed to sleep on to a controversial text message that paint a simple picture for the audience: it could relate to your relationship too! In fact, Black and Sexy TV gets more than 2 million views on their videos, with ‘The Couple’ getting hundreds of thousands of views in itself.
The inspiration behind the episodes of ‘The Couple’ is what makes the show unique. One of the creators, Jeanine Daniels says it was her own life experiences that sparked the inspiration for the creation of the show. More specifically, it was when Daniels was living with her boyfriend and his roommate at the time where inspiration hit.
“It was just really weird because I had never lived with a guy before and I was writing all these things down and I would tell Dennis about all the random stuff that was happening, funny stuff. And I had this idea in my head that there needs to be a show about a couple, not just a story, but all the things that couples go through.”
She continued, “There has to be a show about how these two characters in my head—an anal jock and a really artsy chick are together and how a lot of random stuff happens. When I pitched the idea to the group, they were like yeah, let’s do it.”
Those experiences were the talk of a typical conversation with the creators of the show Dennis Dortch and Jeanine Daniels and the cast who plays the couple in the show, Numa Perrier and Desmond Faison, who had previously been friends before the creation of the show.
As Daniels explained the guy who became the inspiration for the show, Dennis shockingly said, “Oh Wow, I didn’t know that!” as he laughed.
While speaking to all four you can tell that there is some major chemistry going on. I wasn’t even able to tell if the two actors for ‘The Couple’, both Faison and Perrier, weren’t an actual couple in real life! Unfortunately, they weren’t able to disclose that information because they are on contract, but either way, they had me beat!
Because of that chemistry and how relatable the show is, Dortch says the show is a success, but for more than just those reasons.
“It is a success because its accessible, relatable and I think also because you don’t have to follow every single story. You could drop it and you could’ve seen 10 of them out of 20 and still feel like you know the show and you know them,” Dortch said.
Not only that, but Dortch also says ‘The Couple’ is different from other Black shows because of their cast.
“It’s a collaboration where people are bringing themselves to the table. Both Desmond and Numa bring something that’s unique that we discover as we shoot,” he said.
According to Dortch, who directs and edits the episodes, editing the episodes down is more tedious than the actors actually performing in front of the camera. They are given a description of the episode and do not use scripts; everything is done free style. Not only that, but ‘The Couple’ uses the actors’ apartments and former apartments to shoot the episodes.
“It’s a little funny because we shoot in my old apartment in Korea Town for The Couple and now my friend lives there, so sometimes that gets a little weird because it’s like I’m taking over that place again,” Perrier laughs.
The creators of the show were purposeful for those locations being that they wanted to create a more intimate and realistic setting. The surrounding being realistic caters to the scenes being realistic, which are all made up of ideas or actual experiences. All of these factors set up a platform for the audience to react to, which the creators and actors say they love and encourage feedback. In fact, according to Dortch and Pierrer, viewers tend to take sides. Dortch says this can be in part because large portions of their viewers tend to be women.
“However you set it up, the audience is going to play into it. If you set it up to take sides, they will happily take a side. From episode to episode it will be his side or my side, but if we’re together then all of our past transgressions don’t matter, they love us,” Perrier added.
“Between the two of us, 80% think I’m right,” Desmond joked.
Having an online show allows ‘The Couple’ to take in their feedback, which enables them to see what their audience likes. They say that their success online is their main focus.
“This is really where the future is, online. Production companies and studios are starting to throw a lot of money into this, so we’re sort of looking at it with two lenses. We’re not just looking at it as a means to end up getting to TV,” Dortch said.
Currently ‘The Couple’ is in its second season. Episodes are slowing down a bit, but it’s because Black and Sexy TV has a movie getting filmed this summer that will be a spin-off of ‘The Couple’. So if you already loved the realistic nature of this web-based show, looks like you’ll have something more to look forward to!
Go to www.youtube.com and type ‘The Couple Black and Sexy TV’ into your search bar and see with your own eyes what this popular show is all about.
By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
For years there were whispers—amused, condemning, even envious—about the supposed “open” marriage of entertainment super couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Some have theorized that the arrangement is the secret to their near-16-year union, which began after they met on the set of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
But on April 14 , Jada took to Facebook to debunk the urban myth.
In the five paragraph post, the actress and mother of three addressed statements she made during an interview with The Huffington Post earlier that month, in which she said “Will is his own man.”
“I’ve always told Will, ‘You can do whatever you want as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror and be okay,’” she told HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill. “Because at the end of the day, Will is his own man. I’m here as his partner, but he is his own man. He has to decide who he wants to be and that’s not for me to do for him. Or vice versa.”
The seemingly ambiguous statements fuelled even more speculation about the nature of her marriage, and she apparently felt the need to clarify her statements.
In her Facebook response, the 41-year-old said that while “there are far more important things to talk about in regards to what is happening in the world than whether I have an open marriage or not,” she felt the need to “discuss the relationship between trust and love and how they co-exist.”
After posing a series of rhetorical questions on the matter, she concluded: “Here is how I will change my statement…Will and I BOTH can do WHATEVER we want, because we TRUST each other to do so. This does NOT mean we have an open relationship…this means we have a GROWN one.”
By Kam Williams
Born in Brooklyn on June 30, 1966, Michael Gerard Tyson is an all-time boxing great who, in his prime, struck fear in the heart of any opponent he squared off against. He compiled an impressive record of 50 wins, 5 losses and 1 disqualification for biting off an opponent’s ear over the course of an incomparable career in which he became the first undisputed heavyweight champ to hold the WBA, WBC and IBF title belts simultaneously.
Iron Mike has weathered a host of woes and controversies outside the ring ranging from allegations of spousal abuse to a rape conviction to the death of his 4 year-old daughter, Exodus, to declaring bankruptcy after frittering away over $300 million in prizefight purses. Today, he is a very happily-married man, with a couple of children, Milan and Morocco, by his third wife, Kiki.
Mike is currently on a 36-city tour of the country in “Undisputed Truth,” a one-man Broadway show which is part comedy/part confessional and covers all of the above and more. Here, the pugilist-turned-actor talks about his latest movie, Scary Movie 5, co-starring a rogue gallery of controversial celebrities including Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Katt Williams and Snoop Dogg.
Kam Williams (LAWT): Hi Mike, thanks for the interview.
Mike Tyson: What’s up, Kam?
LAWT: I really appreciate your taking the time to speak with me.
MT: It’s all good in the ‘hood, my friend.
LAWT: Ray Hirschman asks: What interested you in Scary Movie 5?
MT: Whew! It’s a franchise that’s going to last ‘til the end of time. I wanted to be involved with that. I don’t care how silly it comes across. It’s more so for us than for kids. It’s adults acting stupid and silly.
LAWT: What was it like working with this cast?
MT: Everybody was great. Ashley [Tisdale] was awesome. I got an autographed picture of her for my niece.
LAWT: Children’s book author Irene Smalls asks: How did you get into acting?
MT: Just from messing around with a friend, Jim Toback, the director of The Pickup Artist. I always used to see him in New York and talk to him when I was younger, like a teenager. Anthony Michael Hall brought me onto the set of one day in about ’86, and Jim and I became acquainted and then good friends, and he started putting me into his movies, first Black and White, and then we did Tyson. He thought I was an interesting character. After that, I did The Hangover and got bitten by the acting bug. I have a lot of friends who’ve won Oscars, and they started telling me I could do it, too.
LAWT: I remember your doing a great job in Black and White opposite some famous daughter. Who was it, Jennifer Jason Leigh?
MT: That was Bijou Phillips. She was awesome in that film.
LAWT: And Jim’s documentary, Tyson, was riveting from start to finish.
MT: I’m just very grateful for his friendship. He’s a remarkable dude.
LAWT: Larry Greenberg says: When we talk about comedy, you hear words that could refer to boxing like “timing” and “punch line.” Do you see any similarities between the two?
MT: I don’t know. People tell me I’m a comedian, but I don’t approach acting from that perspective. I do know that everything in life has to do with your timing and perception. You have to be comfortable with the rhythm that you’re in. You can’t just jump into a fast rhythm if yours is slow. You might have to pick up the pace but in your own particular way. It has to do with personality, too.
LAWT: Richie the intern was wondering how the play‘s coming along?
MT: We’ve been doing just great, selling out every night. And I couldn’t believe the reviews. I couldn’t believe it was me they were talking about. They’re saying “Remarkably funny!” and “Moving!” I was like “They’re talking about me?” The biggest honor I had so far was when the comedian Jeff Ross told me he liked it and said, “You’re one of us, now” That was just amazing.
LAWT: Fight fan Mike Ehrenberg asks: Who was stronger, Razor Ruddick or Bonecrusher Smith?
MT: Bonecrusher was stronger, but Razor Ruddick hit harder.
LAWT: Mike also asks: What was the hardest punch you ever took in the ring?
MT: Wow! A bunch of guys really rang my clock. Gee! Razor Ruddick… Lennox Lewis… Evander Holyfield… They all did a number on me.
LAWT: Finally, Mike is curious about how you think you would’ve matched up against some of the other heavyweight greats in the ring?
MT: I have no idea. I just did what I did in my era, basically because of my admiration for the guys who came before me. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. I never thought of boxing like, I’m going to be the greatest fighter ever and make a lot of money. Instead, I thought I was going to win because I learned from the best. I carefully studied the videotapes of all the fighters from the past, dissected their styles, and entered the ring with their spirit.
LAWT: Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: Champ—you’ve had a long and varied career that involved lots of press coverage. What’s the thing you’d most have us remember about you?
MT: Overcoming my adversities.
LAWT: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
MT: Me? I see an old, broke-ass black guy taking care of a bunch of kids, living life, taking them to school, and all that stuff, who’s asking himself: What the hell is this? But I wouldn’t give it up for the world because I love my wife. I never expected to have a life like this. No chaos… no confusion… no lawsuits… no violence… no going to jail…
LAWT: I’m originally from Bed-Stuy, too, from around Nostrand Avenue and Eastern Parkway.
MT: I know where that’s at. That’s an awesome neighborhood! Bed-Stuy, do or die! I’m from Franklin between DeKalb and Willoughby. Do you remember the Welfare place at 500 DeKalb?
LAWT: Sure, I’m older than you. I was born in the early Fifties.
MT: Oh, so you know what’s really going down. My mother used to have us waiting with her in that long-ass line when we were kids. But we moved to Brownsville when I was 10.
LAWT: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
MT: Being in the hospital at about 5 years of age, after I drank some Drano. I remember it like it was yesterday. My mother had a bunch of people over the house, and I drank it because no one was paying me any attention.
LAWT: Yeah, children would prefer to be praised than punished, but they’d rather be punished than ignored.
MT: No doubt about it. That’s life. That’s our nature as human beings.
LAWT: What is your favorite dish to cook?
LAWT: Lastly, if you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
MT: That my daughter could still be with us.
LAWT: My condolences, Mike. Thanks again, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
MT: Thank you, Kam. Okay, brother.
April 18, 2013
(AP) — Chris Tucker will host this year’s BET Awards.
The network announced Tuesday that the comedian-actor will host the show June 30 from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live.
Tucker is riding high off of his supporting role in the Oscar-nominated film “Silver Linings Playbook,” which starred Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The 41-year-old is best known for starring in the “Rush Hour” film franchise opposite Jackie Chan.
He said in a statement that he’s honored and “looking forward to being part of a really great show.”
The BET Awards is part of three-day event the network is putting on that weekend dubbed “BET Experience at L.A. Live.” It kicks off June 28 with a Beyonce concert. Other performers throughout the weekend include Kendrick Lamar, Miguel, The Jacksons and R. Kelly.
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