April 11, 2013

By BRIAN MAHONEY

Associated Press

 

NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets are losing one of their biggest names as they prepare for the playoffs.

Jay-Z owned just a little piece of the team, but was a large presence when the franchise changed homes and identities this season.

The rap mogul is selling his stake in the Nets so he can become certified as a player agent, possibly before the end of the season. The process is underway, with paperwork already filed, a person with knowledge of the details said Wednesday.

NBA rules prevent anyone from being involved in ownership and player representation.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported Jay-Z’s plans, said his Roc Nation company has partnered with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and hopes to compete for players in this June's NBA draft.

Jay-Z owns less than 1 percent of the Nets, but has had a major impact with the franchise's move to his hometown. He had input and in some cases complete control of everything from the interior of the $1 billion Barclays Center to the design of the team’s black-and-white uniforms, which he debuted himself during his run of eight sold-out concerts in September that served as the debut of the arena.

A spokesman for Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, did not respond to a message.

Friendly with LeBron James and a number of sports superstars, Jay-Z could quickly make Roc Nation a force in the agency field. The company recently signed New York Yankees All-Star Robinson Cano. The Nets hoped his reputation and friendships would help them three years ago when James led a loaded field of free agents, but the Nets, then playing in Newark, failed to land any of them.

Jay-Z attended only a handful of games this season, but his affiliation with the franchise provided a necessary buzz for its first season in Brooklyn. He sat in his courtside seat next to wife Beyonce in November when the Nets beat the Knicks in their first matchup as New York rivals, providing the trash talk afterward when he tweeted that the city was under new management.

The Nets have clinched their first playoff berth since 2007 and are in position to have home-court advantage in their first-round series.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By DARLENE SUPERVILLE

Associated Press

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House celebration Tuesday night of Memphis soul music is an affirmation of the decades of hard work that went into making it a classic American music sound, said some of the artists tapped to perform.

“I’m proud to do this,” said Sam Moore, half of the Sam & Dave soul duo, known for the hit “Hold On, I’m Comin’.”

Moore said he was kicking off the concert in the East Room after an introduction by President Barack Obama. The 77-year-old said it's his first time meeting Obama and he joked about possibly wearing a diaper — just in case.

“You just hope you don’t slosh in your shoe,” he said in between rehear­sals. Moore did not give away any de­tails about his performance.

Artist William Bell said the concert reaffirms years of hard work that began in the 1960s when Stax Records was created in Memphis, Tenn., and the label cranked out one soul and R&B hit after another for more than a decade.

Among its artists were Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Bell and Sam & Dave.

“As kids coming up, we didn't think it would last this long,” the 73-year-old Bell said of the music genre during a rehearsal break. He said he would perform one of his hits, “You Don’t Miss Your Water.”

Tuesday’s concert is the 10th in the “In Performance at the White House” series. The lineup includes Alabama Shakes, Steve Cropper, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, Justin Timberlake, Bell and Moore, with Booker T. Jones as music director and band leader.

Al Green was listed in the original lineup but, about an hour before the show, the White House released a statement from the singer’s spokes­man who said Green had suffered a back injury that will keep him from traveling and that he will be unable to perform. Green sent his regrets.

The entire program is set to air next Tuesday on PBS stations nationwide. It will also be broadcast at a later date over the American Forces Network for service members and civilians at Defense Department locations worldwide.

The program also honors Memphis, where whites and blacks came together in the 1960s to make a soulful blend of gospel and rhythmic grooves despite it being a segregated city.

Earlier in the day, the first lady kicked off a workshop featuring Moore, Staples, Timberlake, Musselwhite and Harper for students from 16 schools and organizations in Virginia, California, Memphis, New York City, Maryland, Florida and Washington, D.C.

She noted Memphis’ history as the birthplace of Elvis Presley’s rock and roll and B.B. King’s blues.

“And while you can hear both of those influences in Memphis soul, this music has a style and a story uniquely its own,” Mrs. Obama said, before launching into the story of Stax Records.

She noted that the label also represented “somebody my husband thinks he sounds like” — Green. “Let’s just tell him he does, OK? Since he is the president, we like to boost him up a little bit.”

It was a reference to Obama singing a few bars of Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” in February 2012 during a Democratic fundraiser at New York’s Apollo Theater.

Mrs. Obama also tried to encourage the students, including some aspiring musicians, by noting that the artists perched on stools in front of them have spent decades perfecting their talent to get where they are.

She recalled playing the piano as a young girl and said she regretted not keeping it up. But she said the skills learned through music can be useful in other avenues of life.

“The discipline, the patience, the diligence I learned through the study of music, those are all skills that I apply every single day in my life,” Mrs. Obama said. “I applied them as a student, as a lawyer, as a first lady, and definitely as a mother.”

Started in February 2009, the “In Performance at the White House” series has celebrated the music of Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Hispanic music, music from the civil-rights era, Motown and the blues, Broadway and country music.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By Chelsea Battle

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

Wayans.  The mere mention of the name likely brings to mind the talented siblings who took Hollywood by storm in the 1990’s and successfully created a dynasty that traversed the decade and reigns to this day.  Determined to carry the torch, the latest generation of Wayans is working hard to earn their rightful place on the throne.

Says Damien, “There was always a misconception of what it’s like being a Wayans or a second generation Wayans. A lot of people thought we were just born into money and it was like—nope—it was a tough road, a tough journey.” But the Wayans are nothing if not tough.  The new kids on the Wayans family block have taken the popular misconception of a cookie cutter lifestyle and capitalized on it, resulting in the launch of BET’s Second Generation Wayans show.

“You know, me and my cousin Craig [who co stars in the show] were project kids, project bred—we were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths,” Damien reveals. People look at you in a good light sometimes and people look at you in a negative light sometimes. Because you are a Wayans, they expect you to be [like] your family at times. We’re trying to carve our own name and ground ourselves, like our uncles grounded themselves.”

In keeping with family tradition Marlon Wayans, Damien’s uncle, is one of the executive producers for Second Generation Wayans. The show, which Damien says is largely based on real life experiences, reflects years of the ups and downs, successes and failures which he and the younger Wayans have experienced while trying to break into showbiz. Because ‘elders’ Shawn, Keenen, and Marlon have frequently appeared in the spotlight, the assumption is that the entire Wayans family is solidly linked into the film industry. With Second Generation Wayans Damien, his cousin Craig, and Uncle Marlon wanted to dispel that notion and portray the true path which the younger generation has taken.

“Hollywood is a very fickle town,” explains Damien. “It’s a very ‘What have you done today?’ type of town especially now a days. They’re not making certain types of movies like they used to.  Sometimes you feel like Hollywood is its own clique, so that’s why I’m happy I got my clique—my Wayans clique!”

Underneath it all is the rocky, albeit quirky, and genuine love that is the glue that bonds the Wayans together.

“It’s always fun being able to do what you love, and my family is my best friend; so throughout the years that I’ve been working with family it has kind of become second nature. You know, we have our arguments; we have our disagreements, but at the core of it all we are family, and we love to have fun with each other.”

Outside of the show when he’s not working out at a spin class, or chowing down on some Crazy Rocking Sushi on Santa Monica Boulevard, he’s writing and working on projects for his production company. In addition to developing a movie, he’s also directing a six part You Tube web series called That’s a Friend. The series is designed to make viewers beg the question “Is my friend really ride or die?”

“It’s about putting your friend to the ultimate test,” says Damien. “So if you’ve ever wondered, ‘How ride or die would my friend really be in a time of need?’ we take scenarios and we see how ride or die that friend really is.”

The multifaceted Damien Wayans is slowly proving his staying power in this industry, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is indeed a ride or die Wayans.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By CHRIS TALBOTT | Associated Press

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country singer Brad Paisley says he was trying to foster an open discussion of race relations when he collaborated with rapper LL Cool J on "Accidental Racist."

The new song about racial perceptions has drawn ire from both the country and urban music worlds after its wide release this week. Paisley, the singer-songwriter known for his white cowboy hat and virtuoso guitar work, gave his first interview Tuesday since the hubbub began on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" after briefly addressing the debate Monday night on Twitter.

"I felt like when we were writing this song, it wasn't necessarily up to the media and I don't really trust Hollywood ... or talk radio or anything like that to sort of deal with that anymore," Paisley said on the show. "I think it's music's turn to have the conversation."

The song appears on Paisley's new self-produced album "Wheelhouse," released Tuesday. It's his most ambitious album so far and the progressive message of "Accidental Racist" is in line with opinions the 40-year-old West Virginia-born singer has expressed before in interviews and songs.

Of the album, Paisley wrote on Twitter, "I hope it triggers emotions," and says he wouldn't change a thing about it: "This is a record meant to be FAR from easy listening. But fun. Like life. Have a ball, ya'll."

At its heart, "Accidental Racist" is about how cultural symbols favored by whites and blacks — the fashion choice of wearing Confederate flags or baggy pants, for instance — come loaded with meaning.

It's not a new discussion. Though race relations have evolved over the decades, cultural symbols continue to color perceptions.

Paisley uses the Confederate flag as an example in the song, noting whites are "caught between Southern pride and Southern blame" 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

"I try to put myself in your shoes and that's a good place to begin," Paisley sings, "but it ain't like I can walk a mile in someone else's skin/Because I'm a white man livin' in the southland/Just like you I'm more than what it seems/I'm proud of where I'm from/But not everything we've done/It ain't like you and me can rewrite history/Our generation didn't start this nation/We're still paying for mistakes that a bunch of folks made long before we came."

Paisley was unavailable for an interview and LL Cool J's publicist did not immediately respond to messages. The 45-year-old rapper, who elevated himself from a teen sensation on the streets of Queens to an American cultural icon as a personality and actor on shows like CBS's "NCIS: Los Angeles," provides the response to Paisley's meditations.

He kicks off his portion of the song "Dear, Mr. White Man, I wish you understood what the world was really like living in the hood." Later in the song he raps, "I guess we're both guilty of judging the cover not the book/I'd love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air/But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn't here."

Later he and Paisley enter a call and response portion of the song where LL Cool J raps in part: "If you don't judge my 'do rag, I won't judge your red flag. ... If you don't judge my gold chains, I'll forget the iron chains ... Can't rewrite history, baby ... let bygones be bygones ... Rest in peace, Robert E. Lee, I got to thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me ... ."

"One of my favorite lines in the song is he says 'I think the relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin','" Paisley told DeGeneres. "Leave it to a rapper to put it so simply and so beautifully."

Not all the good people of the blogosphere and Twitter world were as taken, though, and comedians were weighing in as well.

Demetria Irwin of black culture blog The Grio wrote, "'Accidental Racist' is the worst song in the history of music," then broke it down line by line.

Comedian Patton Oswalt tweeted: "I can't wait for Brad Paisley & LL Cool J's next single: "Whoopsy Daisy, Holocaust, My Bad""

Even the usually open-armed Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots seemed taken aback as he tweeted: "Just heard the "Accidental Racist" man that Weird Al is amazing."

A little later, he compared the reaction to "Accidental Racist" to the recent backlash over Rick Ross' contribution to the Rocko song "O.U.E.N.O," which brought an apology after detractors accused him of glorifying date rape.

"All the "OUENO" weigher ins....i expect "Accidental Racist" to get equal amount of discussion & dialogue," he wrote.

That it did. Paisley told DeGeneres that was the point.

"Make up your own mind," he said. "That's fine. You can throw things at me. I'm all right."

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 04, 2013

LAWT News Service

 

For those who thought that they’d never get an opportunity to walk a red carpet or brush shoulders with their favorite celebrity,  BET Networks, AEG and L.A. LIVE have teamed up to provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—aptly called The BET Experience at L.A. LIVE.   For the first time ever, public can purchase tickets to attend the BET Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, which grants them exclusive access to the red carpet and special VIP entrance to performances during the BET Experience weekend, June 28-30, 2013.

Even though Beyoncé’s North American tour kick-off concert at STAPLES Center is completely sold out, guests purchasing specially created VIP Ticket Packages can rest assured that they are guaranteed great seats for all of the sold-out weekend performances as well as numerous other events, receptions and programs taking place during the BET Experience.  Fans are warned to buy early as these special packages are limited.  The three VIP packages provide access to the entire STAPLES Center weekend concert series featuring Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Miguel, ScHoolboy Q, legendary artists The Jacksons, R. Kelly and New Edition. Packages also include intimate show performances by comedian Mike Epps, songstress Erykah Badu, The Roots & Friends, and a gospel showcase including Kirk Franklin over the BET Experience weekend at Club Nokia.

“The BET AWARDS weekend has evolved into a tremendous 3-day experience,” said Debra Lee, BET’s Chairman and CEO.  “Attendees will be treated to a specially curated BET GRAMMY® Museum Exhibit; empowerment seminars that range from money and cultural to entertainment, family and health; a film festival; fan fest; the Music Matters stage, celebrity appearances and more.”

Special hotel package pricing is available for the weekend’s events.  The official host hotels for the BET Experience are the JW Marriott Los Angeles, L.A. LIVE and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. The BET Experience will offer special rates to consumers at more than 20 other hotels in the downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and Beverly Hills areas. 

“I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend than by enjoying all the sights and sounds at the BET Experience.  Who wouldn’t want a chance to hobnob with the stars while sipping champagne on the red carpet in sunny Los Angeles?  It just doesn’t get any better than this,” said AEG’s Sean Dee, President, Global Branding AEG Live.

For more information on the BET Experience and access to the limited VIP packages, visit www.BETExperi­ence.com. Tickets are also available at www.axs.com/ betexperiencevip. To receive updates and announcements, follow the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE on Twitter @betexperience.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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