May 16, 2013

By Zenitha Prince

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper


“Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts has been named the most trusted woman in television, according to a new Reader’s Digest survey released this week.

Reader’s Digest teamed up with The Wagner Group, a research firm, and polled more than 1,000 Americans to discover which 200 public figures inspire the most confidence. Roberts came in at No. 12 on the list, making her the most trusted television host on the list.

The publication defined a trustworthy person as “somebody possessing integrity and character, exceptional talent and a drive for personal excellence, a strong internal moral compass, a consistent message, honesty, and leadership.” And 56 percent of Americans believed that Roberts exemplified those qualities.

“I wish my mom and dad were here to see this,” Roberts said in an interview with Liz Vaccariello, editor-in-chief of Reader’s Digest. “It would mean so much to them because all they wanted was for us to grow up to be good people.

“They didn’t care that sister is a social worker and brother is a teacher and that two of us are on TV,” she added. “All they wanted was for us to be trustworthy citizens. And there’s a responsibility that goes with that, and it’s not something I take lightly.”

Roberts started gaining national attention as an on-air personality on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” in 1990, winning over fans and also critics with her signature catch phrase, “Go on with your bad self!”, and capturing three Emmy Awards.

In May 2005, the journalist joined Diane Sawyer as co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Moring America.”

Later that year, her professional and personal worlds collided when Hurricane Katrina tore through the Mississippi Gulf Coast, her home, and Roberts traveled to the devastated area and did a series of emotional reports. In 2009 she teamed up with George Stephanopoulos, and the pair catapulted GMA to the No. 1 morning show in April 2012 for the first time in almost two decades.

But it is, perhaps, the resilience, strength and grace Roberts displayed during her public battle with cancer that has endeared so many Americans to the television host.

On the same day in April 2012 when Roberts received the news of her professional accomplishment as part of GMA’s number one ranking, she learned that although she had prevailed against her breast cancer, after being diagnosed in June 2007, the treatment had caused another serious medical problem, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

“I’ve always been a fighter, and with all of your prayers and support, a winner,” Roberts told her viewers at the time, and her determination inspired many others to join the fight against MDS, a disease of the blood and bone marrow.

On the day she went public with the announcement, Be the Match Registry, the national marrow donor program, experienced an 1,800 percent spike in bone marrow donors.

In her interview with Reader’s Digest, Roberts talked about this influence she has on the public—the inner light that shines out on the world.

“Every day before I leave my apartment—after I say my prayer of protection—I ask God, ‘Please let your light shine through me.,’” she said. “And I am lucky to have the resources to shine it—be it love, unity, or resilience—onto others.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 16, 2013

By Rebecca Nuttall

Special to the NNPA from the New Pittsburgh Courier


Members of the Black intelligentsia let out a collective victory cry last week when hip-hop artist Lil Wayne lost a multi-million dollar endorsement deal with Mountain Dew as a result of lyrics comparing the beating of murdered teenager Emmett Till in 1955 to female genitalia.

Led by outcry from Till’s family, one by one the nation’s Black bloggers and columnists were sounding off. Their justice was swift. Or not. While the song, which featured Wayne’s lyrics, was released in February, it took until May for Mountain Dew to take notice and drop him.

Still Mountain Dew’s action, coupled with Reebok’s latest decision to sever ties with hip-hop artist Rick Ross because of his own offensive lyrics, could be indicative of the growing power of public opinion when married with social media. Perhaps if enough people stand up, in the form of blogs and twitter posts, these kinds of heinous lyrics will no longer percolate the airwaves.

“Artists now are going to be more careful about what they say,” said nationally known hip-hop artist Jasiri X from Pittsburgh. “They were so used to saying the most outlandish and ridiculous stuff.”

This certainly wasn’t the first time Wayne recorded offensive lyrics, but it was perhaps the first time the lyrics gained national attention. Now Jasiri X hopes Americans will begin to turn to conscious rappers, who promote more positive images of African-Americans as an alternative.

“I think it shows the power we have as a community. I think it’s a power we’ve always had, we complain, but we don’t really organize,” he said. “My only concern or critique is what we need to do is offer an alternative.”

However, Jasiri X and other conscious rappers say White CEOs are actually the ones pulling the strings behind these mainstream hip-hop artists.
In an effort to hold them accountable, one group, the Internet collective FAAN Mail, which stands for Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now, sent a letter to Universal Music Group. The letter was in response to a music video by rapper 2 Chainz that carries on the rap tradition of objectifying women.

“It’s really about representations of Black people that these older white CEOs are comfortable with,” said Jasiri X, who runs the One Hood Media Academy where young Black males learn how to use the media to promote positive images of their peers. “At the end of the day, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross are really intelligent. Neither of them are really street guys, they’re playing a character for these White CEOs to make money so that’s really who we have to challenge.”

Jasiri X pointed to other conscious artists like Lupe Fiasco as examples of musicians making a positive impact on the Black community by promoting positive images. During a recent visit to Pittsburgh, Fiasco performed at Carnegie Mellon University and put students in Jasiri X’s One Hood Media Academy on the guest list so they could attend.

“If we have artists like that, that’s who I want to see Mountain Dew work with,” he said.

Some believe the Black community has the power to change the face of the music industry, but if Wayne is so abhorrent, why did he surpass Elvis Pressley last year as the leading male with the most entries on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart? Does Black America really care if Wayne’s lyrics are insensitive? And what about White America, whose buying power accounts for a great deal of Wayne’s success? Tell us what you think.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 16, 2013


Assistant Managing Editor


Black Entertainment Television (BET) rolled out its heavy hitters for the launching of BET Awards|13 and BET Experience weekend at L.A. Live from June 28-30, at an all star presser on Tuesday May 14 at L.A.’s Icon Ultra Lounge in downtown Los Angeles.

Hosted by the BET President of Music Programming and Specials Stephen G. Hill, a galaxy of entertainment media reps showed up in force to catch the rising hip hop star Lamar, super-star Chris Brown and actor/comedian and award show host Christ Tucker, and singer and television personality Tamar Braxton.

Hip–hop slugger Drake led all artist with 12 nominations, including Best Male Hip Hop Artist and Video of the Year, but Compton sensation Lamar was right behind with eight nominations.

Brown who has won more BET Awards than any other performer made the announcement of the nominations which also included eight for 2Chainz, A$AP Rocky with five; while Jay Z was among the other leaders with four nominations.





Drake is nominated three times for the top prize, video of the year. His hit, “Started from the Bottom,” will compete with his collaborations with 2 Chainz (“No Lie”) and A$AP Rocky (“Problems”). The top award has 10 nominees, including Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” Kanye West’s “Mercy,” “Adorn” by Miguel and Mackle­more & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.”

Charlie Wilson was announced as this year’s Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. He was on hand for the press conference as was Chris Brown.

Brown was announced as the first confirmed performer. He told those gathered that he “just wants to have fun” that night. “I always strive to give fans what they want. I always want to bring something new and original.” Brown also noted during the q and a portion that he has finished the video for the song “They Don’t Know” and that song features vocals from the late Aaliyah “that haven’t been heard before.”

R. Kelly will also perform at the awards show, to air live June 30 from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live. This year’s BET Awards will be the culmination of the cable net’s first ever BET Experience, a three-day music and lifestyle fest done in partnership with AEG Live that will also feature ‘A Taste of Taste of Soul.’

Chris Tucker will bring his own special brand of levity as BET Awards host. Riffing on the BET theme “Anything can happen,” Tucker joked, “I don’t know what I’m going to do... I might not show up. So anything can happen.”

Check out the full list of nominees at



Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 16, 2013

By Kam Williams


After dating for over a year, Wade Walker (Craig Robinson) is head-over-heels in love with his girlfriend, Grace (Kerry Washington). He’s ready to pop the question, and has even purchased a ring, but there’s a slight problem: he still hasn’t met her parents yet.

Because of her background, Grace is a little ashamed of her beau’s modest background. After all, she’s a high-powered Manhattan attorney with a proven pedigree, while he hails from the ‘hood and makes a living by performing at children’s birthday parties.   

Concern about their class differences has Grace taking off alone to the tip of Long Island for a weekend getaway at her family’s waterfront mansion. Rather than sit at home licking his wounds, Wade decides to force the issue by crashing the gathering.

His unexplained presence gets under the skin of Grace’s father, Judge Virgil Peebles (David Alan Grier), an overbearing patriarch with a need to control. Furthermore, Grace is afraid to tell him the truth about the nature of her relationship with Wade, which serves to establish the familiar, sitcom scenario revolving around a big lie that must be kept hidden at all costs.

Written and directed by Tyler Perry protégé Tina Gordon Chism, Peeples is a fish-out-of-water comedy whose stock-in-trade is making fun of the contrast between po’ and bourgie black folks. Ala popular Perry TV programs like House of Payne and Meet the Browns, the production is littered with colorful, two-dimensional characters bordering on caricatures.   

There’s Wade’s embarrassingly-ghetto brother (Malcolm Barrett) who also shows up unannounced. He’s an oaf who puts his foot in his own mouth by suggesting that Grace’s lipstick lesbian sister (Kali Kawk) “looks too good to be gay.” Wade conveniently loses his wallet upon arriving which means he looks like a total loser when he can’t pay for anything.

You get the idea. Is it funny? I suppose, provided you’re in the target demo and haven’t seen Jumping the Broom, another comedy set at a beachfront estate (on Martha’s Vineyard in that case) and pitting crass blacks from the wrong side of the tracks against the others with their noses in the air. From shoplifting to lip-synching to skinny-dipping to a sweat lodge to skeletons-in-the-closet, Peeples throws everything at the screen but the kitchen sink, and just enough sticks.

An amusing, if not exactly original, African-American-oriented variation on Meet the Parents.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 09, 2013

By Kam Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer


Born in Chicago on October 25, 1971, Craig Robinson is currently appearing in the final season of “The Office” on NBC, where he portrays acerbic Dunder-Mifflin employee Darryl Philbin. He is definitely a world away from his original career intentions; before deciding to pursue a comedy career full-time, Robinson was a K-8 teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.

He had earned his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and a Master’s in Education from St. Xavier University. It was while studying education that he discovered his love of acting and comedy upon joining the famed Second City Theatre.

Craig made his mark on the comedy circuit at the 1998 Montreal “Just for Laughs” Festival. That year, he also won the Oakland Comedy Festival Awards and the Miller Genuine Draft 1996 Comedy Search. He soon went on to perform his act on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

His rise to success with “The Office” and his stand-up prowess quickly brought him to the attention of comedy maven Judd Apatow. Robinson made audiences question their notions of vanity, playing the sensitive bouncer in Knocked Up. He then kept audiences glued to their seats as one of the henchman hunting Seth Rogen and James Franco’s bumbling stoner characters in Pineapple Express, and made fans squirm when he co-starred with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in Zack and Miri Make A Porno.

In 2010, Craig starred alongside Rob Corddry and John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine. The story follows three men as they visit the hot tub where they once partied, accidentally discover it is now a time machine, and travel back to their raunchy heyday in the mid-1980s. Fans’ voices spoke loudly, and early negotiations are currently in progress for a sequel.

Here, he talks about his first leading man role as Wade Walker in Peeples, a comedy co-starring Kerry Washington.

LAWT: What interested you in Peeples?

CR: When I met with [director] Tina Gordon Chism, I was impressed with her passion about the project. She had lived this experience of dating someone from a family with so many secrets, and watching them unravel. So, she knew what she was talking about. And when she let me know that Kerry Washington was playing the love interest, I went, “Okay, I’m in! Let’s go ahead and do it.”

LAWT: Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: You’ve done some great cameo and support roles, but now landed a lead role here. Congratulations! So, in Peeples, your fans will see more of you. How was it playing a main character and working with [producer] Tyler Perry?

CR: I worked with Tyler before on Daddy’s Little Girls. He couldn’t be smarter or more laid back and cool. He’s always throwing out lines and is funny as hell. And he was shining his light on Peeples, too, lending his name to showcase Tina as a first-time director, and me as a first-time lead. I’m humbled and honored to work with him. He’s great!

LAWT: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier would like to know what was it like to on the set with legendary actors like Diahann Carroll and Melvin Van Peebles?

CR: Diahann Carroll delivered a very moving speech at the start of the whole project, and Melvin pulled me aside on the set and told me to, “Stay strong!” in a way that carried considerable heft. These people are legends, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled about their participation in the movie and blessing it. It was superb.

LAWT: Patricia also says: Given that you are a singer, are you interested in recording an album one day?

CR: Yes I am. I have a sound. It’s called funk mixed with stank. That’s what I do.

LAWT: What’s it like having the same name as First Lady Michelle Obama’s brother?

CR: I was once dating a woman who got very upset after confusing the two of us when she found my picture next to his bio which indicated that he’s divorced with kids, and remarried. So, if you can imagine, that’s what it’s like.

LAWT: Larry Greenberg says: I'm just crazy about films with time travel.  Where there any special issues or tricky scenes when you played Nick in Hot Tub Time Machine?

CR: Yes, there was a special issue. Her name was Jessica Paré. She was topless with me in the hot tub. So, yes, that was a very special moment, and I watch the movie every night because of that scene. 

LAWT: Dinesh Sharma asks: Do you think that your role describes a challenge most black men face today, of trying to fit into upper-class black society? Or was the movie just Meet the Parents with an African-American twist?

CR: Peeples is definitely not Meet the Parents. It’s more a movie about family secrets. It does explore class issues somewhat, but it’s mostly about living your own truth. 

LAWT: What is your favorite dish to cook?

CR: I can bake the hell out of some chicken, my friend.

LAWT: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

CR: Celestine Prophecies.

LAWT: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 

CR: Butterflies by Michael Jackson.

LAWT: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?

CR: JSLV, Just Live, it’s a company in California.

LAWT: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

CR: Craig Robinson… I see growth.

LAWT: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

CR: To be able hug my deceased family members, friends and godfather.

LAWT: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

CR: Banging on the piano while my grandmother was watching me. I’d run up to her and ask: “How was that, Grandma?” And she’d say, “That was beautiful, baby!” And I’d run back to the piano and play some more. I’m sure that’s why I still play today, because I was encouraged from such a young age, 2 or 3.

LAWT: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share? 

CR: Determination!

LAWT: The Mike Pittman question” asks: What was your best career move?

CR: Choosing my manager, Mark Schulman.

LAWT: PBS President Neal Shapiro asks: If you could really time travel and live in another period, which one would you choose? 

CR: The Sixties, because it was the beginning of Rock & Roll. All the songs sounded alike, since they were using the same three chords, which would make it easy to hop out and rock. 

LAWT: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

CR: That’s a great question. I can’t think of one.

LAWT: The Viola Davis question: Who do you really believe you are when you go home as opposed to the person you pretend to be on the red carpet?

CR: The red carpet is weird because, when they don’t know who you are, you’re standing there posing and nobody’s taking pictures of you. And when they do know you, they’re calling your name from every which way and you don’t know in which direction to turn. For me, I’m more in control at home. On the carpet, I want to be in control, but it can be overwhelming.

LAWT: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would it be? 

CR: Rock star! Singing songs that the whole world knows, like my favorite band, Earth, Wind and Fire.

LAWT: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there something that you promised to do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

CR: No, because I don’t make promises unless I know I’m gonna keep ‘em.

LAWT: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?

CR: Invisibility!

LAWT: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do? Would you do the bad stuff, you never got a chance to do, or would you do good stuff to make sure you make it into heaven?

CR: I would live like I’m already living. If I couldn’t get to my family, I’d hit my favorite restaurant. I’d seize the moment.

LAWT: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

CR: A whale.

LAWT: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

CR: The little things that let me know I’m on the right path, like running into an old friend, or getting into the car and catching an awesome song from the beginning.

LAWT: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?

CR: I don’t get too close in relationships. I kinda have my arm out, like the Heisman trophy, because I don’t want to hurt somebody the way I was hurt.

LAWT: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in with an eye toward a particular role.

CR: Yeah, Cannonball Run.

LAWT: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Do you have a favorite charity?

CR: No, I don’t.

LAWT: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do?

CR: Because it brings me closer to people, and it lets me explore who I am. It’s a chance for me to be connected. Whenever I’m performing live, the first thing I look for is to make a connection.

LAWT: What is your favorite way of performing?

CR: I’m in my element when I’m alone on stage with a microphone and a keyboard.

LAWT: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

CR: Be yourself, because you’re special. There’s only one of you. Second, be tenacious, visualize success, and then live it. And remember everything you learned in kindergarten.

LAWT: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

CR: As a joy!

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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