February 14, 2013


Associated Press


The Oscar-nominated film “Beasts of the Southern Wild” has gotten Michelle Obama’s ringing endorsement.

The first lady played host Wednesday at a White House workshop for about 80 middle- and high-school students from the District of Columbia and New Orleans, in the state where the movie was set. Students saw the film, then questioned cast members and the director.

Mrs. Obama said she saw “Beasts” last summer and considers it one of the most powerful and important movies released in a long time.

The film tells the mythical tale of a 6-year-old girl named Hushpuppy struggling to survive in the southern Delta with her ailing father as a storm approaches. Her world consists of a small but tightly-knit shantytown community on the bayou with wild animals, both real and imagined.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 14, 2013

Associated Press

R&B singer-songwriter Trey Songz, who has collaborated with hip-hop artists Jay-Z, Drake and others, has been added to this year's Essence Festival lineup.

The festival is scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend in New Orleans.

On Wednesday, organizers also announced that Solange is joining the lineup that already includes her big sister, Beyonce.

Beyonce is headlining one of three night concerts during the festival, which runs July 4-7. It'll be Beyonce's second performance in the Superdome this year. She entertained a huge television audience during the Super Bowl halftime show earlier this month.

Other acts scheduled to perform are Jill Scott, Maxwell, New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Keyshia Cole, LL Cool J, Brandy and others.

New additions announced Wednesday to the intimate Superlounges — stages set up in the Superdome's massive corridors — will feature: Faith Evans, Tamia, Rachelle Ferrell and Mali Music. They join previously announced crowd pleasers: Anthony David, Big Daddy Kane, Bridget Kelly, Blackstreet, Jody Watley and Mint Condition.

As music concerts take place in the Superdome, seminars on education, health, civil rights and personal empowerment will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. This year's speakers include Steve Harvey, the Rev. Al Sharpton, state Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., an icon from the civil rights era, and best-selling author and relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 07, 2013

Special to the NNPA from the Tri-State Defender


Legendary social activist, comedian and author, Dick Gregory, has weighed in on the controversial Quentin Tarantino film, “Django Unchained,” and he did so in explosive fashion.

In an interview posted to YouTube, Gregory says that the movie spoke to him in ways that no film had in all his years on earth. He then calls out Director Spike Lee for criticizing a film that he’s never seen, saying that if anyone has created movies that are disrespectful to our ancestors, it’s Lee himself:

“I’ve seen ‘Django Unchained’ 12 times. Never in the history of Hollywood, have they ever made anything that freed the inside of me. The inside of me. I’m 80-years-old, I saw cowboy movies, wasn’t no black folks in cowboy movies. I’m looking at a western, plus a love story. To those of you all that see it, you’ll never see a love story about a black man and a black woman where it wasn’t some foul sex and foul language, huh. And Spike Lee can’t appreciate that. The little thug ain’t even seen the movie; he’s acting like he white.

“So it must be something personal. And all them black entertainers that know Spike Lee, how you gone attack this man and don’t be attacking them … and then say everyone’s a fool but me. (Talking about) ‘it offended my ancestors,’ but when you did ‘She’s Got To Have It’ and some of those other thug movies you did…you took Malcolm X and put a Zoot suit on him…did that offend your ancestors, punk?

“It’s a game, man. So whatever he’s mad about is something that happened way, way a long ago. Thank God it didn’t work (to stop the movie from being successful).”

When the interviewer asks Gregory if he has a problem with Tarantino’s excessive use of the word “n*gger,” he said that he absolutely did not and that no other culture insists on the white-washing of their painful past in this country like black people:

“We talking about history, man. It happened. Nigger happened.”

Gregory goes on to talk about the history of “the dozens,” slave rebellion and racism in Hollywood.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 14, 2013


LAWT News Service

This Black History Month, Macy’s, The Gordon Parks Foun­dation, American Black Film Festival and American Airlines celebrated the life, the legacy and the 100th birthday of Gordon Parks - visionary and artistic master who defined a generation and inspires artists today.

Macy’s Baldwin Hills welcomed guests to the “Soul Jam” dance party hosted in the MSTYLE LAB Department from 2 – 4pm featuring soul/funk music from the movie Shaft and live dance performances. Customers boogied to tunes from the 70s and took photos in the photo booth.

The celebration continued as Macy’s hosted “In Conversation” with actor/director Eric La Salle, founder of the American Black Film Festival; Jeff Friday, director/writer and Dave Baptist for a spirited discussion about Parks’ influence on film and the future of African American cinema. The moderator for the discussion was Vanessa Barnett, journalist for HipHollywood.com. The 300 plus crowd was in “awe” as actor Richard Roundtree made a special appearance paying homage to Parks.

Roundtree played the lead role in Shaft – the first Hollywood film, written, directed and scored by an African American. Roundtree joined the panel and shared personal stories and fond memories of Parks. Some of the discussion points included: who was Gordon Parks; how did his work tell the story about the black experience in America; the social responsibility of film makers to depict positive images of African Americans and how has Parks influenced a generation of film makers.

Following the discussion, customers enjoyed light refreshments by Post and Beam and wine provided by Estelline Vineyard. With “$50 or more” purchases made during the event, customers received a commemorative Gordon Parks journal and a copy of Eric La Salle’s new book, Laws of Depravity.

From February 1 – 28, visitors to macys.com/celebrate will be offered the opportunity to enter for the chance to win a trip for two to the American Black Film Festival in Miami and a $1000 Macy’s Shopping spree courtesy of American Airlines.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

February 07, 2013


Your mind is busy this week with thoughts of new projects and the things you want to get done. Best course of action is to clear up pending and overdue items. You’ll have a clean desk in no time and will feel genuinely content and relaxed for the week. Soul Affirmation: I will actually write a love letter to the universe this week.



Lots of opportunities are swirling around you, and it will require some diligence on your part to make the most of some of them. You’ll be happy you put in some extra effort this week! Soul Affirmation: I open up to the universe. The universe opens up to me.



Stay focused on the tasks before you this week and find a way to do your work with love. The pace will pick up soon enough, and the vibrations will be more to your liking. Enjoy a sociable week. Soul Affirmation: I let imagination light up my work.



A quiet week will work wonders for you. Make an effort to slow your pace, both physically and mentally this week. Use your imagination to think of quiet ways to entertain yourself. Soul Affirmation: Knowing I can do it is the biggest preparation for getting it done.



While you may have much work facing you in the beginning of the week, a steady, patient attitude will help you accomplish a great deal this week. Be good to yourself and take things nice and slow. You’ll finish what you need to. Soul Affirmation: What life has given me is sufficient to any task.



While you may have much work facing you in the beginning of the week, a steady, patient attitude will help you accomplish a great deal this week. Be good to yourself and take things nice and slow. You’ll finish what you need to. Soul Affirmation: The sunlight of my spirit shines in the land beyond the horizon.



This week is another week when your intuition and insights are remarkable. A lesson you learned in the past may suddenly reveal itself as more this week; you’ll have plenty of food for thought. Soul Affirmation: I paint my world in colors of the rainbow.



Someone whose values are different than yours may annoy you this week if you let them. Let your most tolerant mind-set rule, and enjoy being able to listen to others’ points of view. You’ll feel very blessed by the end of the week. Soul Affirmation: Change is my middle name.



You learn something this week that makes you very happy. One of your most wonderful gifts is your ability to be delighted with all forms of learning and education. This is a terrific week for personal delight. Soul Affirmation: Trust gives me a deep sense of peace and joy.



Shopping has its appeals this week, and you’ll want to check your bankbook balance before indulging in anything that is whimsical and expensive. Give yourself hours to think about what’s important to you. Control impulses this week. Soul Affirmation: I change the way I look at business this week.



A road trip might be in the offing; grab a friend and go dutch-treat. You’ll enjoy yourself more if you are sharing costs this week. Mutual generosity in all things will make your week perfect. Soul Affirmation: As chances come around again. I take advantage of them.



This week is likely to make you feel young again. You’ll want to play jokes and tricks on people around you.  Make sure they are ready to deal with your playful mood. Enjoy yourself, you fabulous being! Soul Affirmation: Superficiality is often the best route to clarity.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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