February 07, 2013
The highly anticipated half-hour African American comedy series –Belle’s, co-created and produced by legendary Emmy Award-Winning Producer Ed. Weinberger airs each Friday at 7pm on TV One.
The all star African American cast features Keith David, Elise Neal, Tami Roman, Ella Joyce and Miguel Núñez and introduces Nadja Alaya is an emerging young talent, brings back to television a positive Black family sitcom.
This TV One original scripted series “Belle’s,” a comedy centered around widower William “Big Bill” Cooper (Keith David) who owns and operates his family’s upscale soul food restaurant.
The half-hour series is co-created by Ed. Weinberger who created “The Cosby Show,” “Good News,” and “Sparks” Black sitcoms that revealed positive experiences of African Americans.
In “Belle’s,” Bill must deal with his two headstrong daughters: Jill (Elise Neal), the sensible hardworking manager of Belle’s who also juggles being a single mom; and Loreta (Tami Roman), a stylish, self-absorbed prima donna whose ambitions alternate between a career in the music business and finding a rich husband. And if working with his daughters isn't challenging enough, Bill must deal with the temperamental chef at Belle's who also happens to be his - thorn-in-the-side sister-in-law, Gladys (Ella Joyce).
Rounding out the family is cousin Maurice (Miguel Núñez), the irresponsible bartender and self-proclaimed ladies’ man who is always in hot water; and Jill's savvy tween daughter Pam (Nadja Alaya), who seems to be the only one who has a handle on everyone and everything that happens in the family, and at Belle’s. Ultimately she could be the star of the series.
“Belle’s” takes a page from sitcoms of an earlier era by tackling hard hitting cultural issues through the prism of comedy and laughter.
In the premiere episode, Jill rents out the restaurant to the Crawford family to host their annual family reunion. Just as the Coopers get ready to celebrate their sudden windfall, Big Bill is tormented to discover the Crawfords’ once owned his wife’s family during slavery.
Veteran comedic actor Miguel Núñez is executive producer of the series.
“TV One is honored to work with Ed. Weinberger and Miguel Núñez on this new comedy series,” said TV One Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Production, Toni Judkins. “Audiences love family comedies, and ‘Belle’s’ has all the perfect ingredients for success, from its award-winning creators, to its amazing and versatile cast, to its relevant, witty storylines.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Next stop for Alicia Keys? NBA All-Star weekend.
The superstar, fresh off her national anthem performance at the Super Bowl, is set to be the halftime entertainment at the Feb. 17 game in Houston.
She's just one of several musicians on tap for the big game. Ne-Yo will sing during the player introductions, while John Legend will sing the national anthem. Singer and "Lincoln" actress Gloria Reuben will sing the Canadian anthem.
The day before, Nick Cannon is set to host that evening's festivities, which will include performances by "American Idol" Phillip Phillips, Ellie Goulding and the first live TV performance in three years by a reunited Fall Out Boy.
The All-Star game, set to feature superstars like LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, will air live on TNT.
By Kam Williams
The mood was both festive and businesslike at this year’s Wall Street Project Economic Summit, hosted by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, in New York City. “For the first time,” former U.S. President Bill Clinton opined during his speech last Thursday afternoon, “[minorities] are in a position to persuasively argue that the economic inequality, which exists in America today, is a severe strain on the economic future of all Americans.”
President Clinton was among a plethora of luminaries, politicians, and businessmen who gathered for Reverend Jesse Jackson’s three-day summit, which ran at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan from January 30th through February 1st. Those in attendance, a veritable Who’s-Who of the African-American corps d’elite, included former New York Governor David Paterson, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, media mogul Reverend Al Sharpton, fund manager John W. Rogers, Jr., real estate mogul R. Donahue Peebles, Motown founder Berry Gordy, and attorney Willie E. Gary, among others.
To edify those unfamiliar with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the group is the brainchild of Reverend Jackson who merged two of his foundations, Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) and the National Rainbow Coalition, in 1996 with a mission to, “protect, defend, and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields, and to promote peace and justice around the world.”
This year’s summit, the Coalition’s 16th since inception, aimed to discuss numerous, serious economic issues that face minority communities today. Discussions ranged from the importance of computer science education, a topic President Clinton specifically voiced concern about at considerable length, to the impact that Hip-Hop music is likely to continue to have on the economy.
Despite the jam-packed agenda, the summit did take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of successful African-Americans such as Berry Gordy, who was honored at a gala Thursday night.
On the eve of Black History Month, Reverend Jackson expressed a debt of gratitude owed to the Motown visionary by sharing a story about how Mr. Gordy, on several occasions, personally funded Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s payroll when times were tough.
“But,” Jackson assured the audience, “Motown gave us more than money. It gave us an art form and a culture that lifted us beyond the boundaries and limits of the South…We’ve [now] won the White House twice…but before there was a politician on the stage, there were musicians [who]…color-crossed and [broke down] walls.”
Cicely Tyson (Born December 19, 1933) An actress. A successful stage actress, Tyson is also known for her Oscar-nominated role in the film Sounder and the television movies The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and Roots.Tyson was born and raised in Harlem, New York, the daughter of Theodosia, a domestic, and William Tyson, who worked as a carpenter, a painter, or any other jobs he could find. A member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority. On May 17, 2009, Tyson received an honorary degree from Morehouse College, an all-male college.In 2010, she was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.She was discovered or found by a photographer for Ebony magazine and became a popular fashion model. Her first credited film role was in Carib Gold in 1956, but she went on to do television such as the celebrated series East Side/West Side and the soap opera The Guiding Light. In 1961, Tyson appeared in the original cast of French playwright Jean Genet's The Blacks, the longest running off-Broadway non-musical of the decade, running for 1,408 performances. She appeared with Sammy Davis, Jr. in the film A Man Called Adam (1966) and starred in the film version of Graham Greene's The Comedians (1967). Tyson had a featured role in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) and was in a segment of the movie Roots.Tyson as Jane Pittman, 1974.The handprints of Cicely Tyson in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.In 1972, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the critically acclaimed Sounder. In 1974, she won two Emmy Awards for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Sir Sidney Poitier(Born February 20, 1927) actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. The significance of this achievement was later bolstered in 1967 when he starred in three successful films: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year. In all three films, issues revolve around the race of the characters Poitier portrays. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Poitier among the Greatest Male Stars of All Time, ranking 22nd on the list of 25.Poitier has directed a number of popular movies, such as A Piece of the Action, Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again (with friend Bill Cosby) and Stir Crazy (starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder). In 2002, thirty-eight years after receiving the Best Actor Award, Poitier was chosen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to receive an Honorary Award, designated "To Sidney Poitier in recognition of his remarkable accomplishments as an artist and as a human being."Since 1997, he has been the Bahamian ambassador to Japan. On August 12, 2009, Sidney Poitier was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States of America's highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.Dorothy Jean Dandridge(November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an actress and singer, and was the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.She performed as a vocalist in venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater.After several minor bit parts in films, Dandridge landed her first noted film role in Tarzan's Peril (starring Lex Barker), in 1951. Dandridge won her first starring role in 1953, playing a teacher in a low-budget film with a nearly all-black cast, Bright Road, released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.In 1954, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Carmen Jones, and in 1959 she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Porgy and Bess. In 1999, she was the subject of the HBO biopic Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, starring Halle Berry as Dandridge. She has been recognized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Dandridge was married and divorced twice, first to dancer and entertainer Harold Nicholas (the father of her daughter, Harolyn Suzanne) and then to Jack Denison. She died at age 42.James Earl Jones Born January 17, 1931, an actor who in a career of over 50 years has become known as "one of America's most distinguished and versatile" and "one of the greatest actors in American history." Since his Broadway debut in 1957, Jones has won several awards, including a Tony Award and Golden Globe Award for his role in The Great White Hope. He is also known for his voice acting role as Darth Vader as well as many film, stage, and television roles.As a child Jones overcame a stutter that lasted for several years. A pre-med major in college, he went on to serve as an Army Ranger during the Korean War, before dedicating his career to acting.On November 12, 2011, he received an Honorary Academy Award.Diana Ross (Born March 26, 1944) a vocalist, recording artist, actress, and African-superstar-diva-legend. Ross has a soprano vocal range.Ross first rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes during the 1960s. After leaving the group in 1970, Ross began a solo career that has included successful ventures into film and Broadway. She received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (1972), for which she won a Golden Globe award; making her the first African-American woman to achieve such a feat. She has won seven American Music Awards, and won a Tony Award for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross, in 1977.In 1976, Billboard magazine named her the "Female Entertainer of the Century." In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Diana Ross the most successful female music artist in history due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles. Diana Ross has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. In 1988, Ross was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of the Supremes alongside Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.Ross is one of the few recording artists to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one as a solo artist and the other as a member of The Supremes. In December 2007, she received the Kennedy Center Honors. In 2012, Diana was finally honored by NARAS with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in her 50th year in the music business.Paul Edward Winfield (May 22, 1939 – March 7, 2004), a television, film, and stage actor. He was known for his portrayal of a Louisiana sharecropper who struggles to support his family during the Great Depression in the landmark film Sounder, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. Winfield portrayed Captain Terrell of the Starship Reliant in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and he also portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the television miniseries King, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award.
A Special Black History Edition ‘It’s a RapMarian Anderson (February 27, 1897 – April 8, 1993) was an African-American contralto and one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century. Music critic Alan Blyth said "Her voice was a rich, vibrant contralto of intrinsic beauty." Most of her singing career was spent performing in concert and recital in major music venues and with famous orchestras throughout the United States and Europe between 1925 and 1965. Although offered roles with many important European opera companies, Anderson declined, as she had no training in acting. She preferred to perform in concert and recital only. She did, however, perform opera arias within her concerts and recitals. She made many recordings that reflected her broad performance repertoire of everything from concert literature to lieder to opera to traditional American songs and spirituals.Anderson became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the United States during the mid-twentieth century.Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Harris April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo.Critic John Bush wrote that Holiday "changed the art of American pop vocals forever." She co-wrote only a few songs, but several of them have become jazz standards, notably "God Bless the Child", "Don't Explain", "Fine and Mellow", and "Lady Sings the Blues". She also became famous for singing "Easy Living", "Good Morning Heartache", and "Strange Fruit", a protest song which became one of her standards and was made famous with her 1939 recording.Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996), also known as the "First Lady of Song", "Queen of Jazz", and "Lady Ella", was an American jazz and song vocalist. With a vocal range spanning three octaves (D?3 to D?6), she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.Fitzgerald was a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook. Over the course of her 59-year recording career, she was the winner of 13 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.Bessie Smith (April 15, 1894 – September 26, 1937) was an American blues singer.Nicknamed The Empress of the Blues, Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and, along with Louis Armstrong, a major influence on subsequent jazz vocalists.Florence Beatrice Price (April 9,1887, Little Rock, Arkansas – June 3, 1953, Chicago, Illinois) was an American composer. Florence Price (née Smith) is considered the first Black woman in the United States to be recognized as a symphonic composer. Even though her training was steeped in European tradition, Price’s music consists of mostly the American idiom and reveals her Southern roots. Her mother, a soprano and pianist, carefully guided her early musical training, and at age fourteen, she enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music with a major in piano and organ. She studied composition and counterpoint with George Chadwick and Frederick Converse, writing her first string trio and symphony in college, and graduating in 1907 with honors and both an artist diploma in organ and a teaching certificate.She taught in Arkansas from 1907–1927 and married Thomas J. Price, an attorney, in 1912. After a series of racial incidents in Little Rock, particularly a lynching that took place in 1927, the family moved to Chicago where Price began a new and fulfilling period in her compositional career. She studied composition, orchestration, and organ with the leading teachers in the city including Arthur Olaf Anderson, Carl Busch, Wesley La Violette, and Leo Sowerby and published four pieces for piano in 1928. While in Chicago Price was at various times enrolled at the Chicago Musical College, Chicago Teacher’s College, Chicago University, and American Conservatory of Music, studying languages and liberal arts subjects as well as music.
Sarah Lois Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990) was an American jazz singer, described by Scott Yanow as having "one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century."Nicknamed "Sailor" (for her salty speech), "Sassy" and "The Divine One", Sarah Vaughan was a Grammy Award winner. The National Endowment for the Arts bestowed upon her its "highest honor in jazz", the NEA Jazz Masters Award, in 1989.Biographies of Vaughan frequently stated that she was immediately thrust into stardom after a winning Amateur Night performance at Harlem's Zeus Theater. In fact, the story that biographer Renee relates seems to be a bit more complex. Vaughan was frequently accompanied by a friend, Doris Robinson, on her trips into New York City. Sometime in the fall of 1942 (when Sarah was 18 years old), Vaughan suggested that Robinson enter the Apollo Theater Amateur Night contest. Vaughan played piano accompaniment for Robinson, who won second prize. Vaughan later decided to go back and compete herself as a singer. Vaughan sang "Body and Soul" and won, although the exact date of her victorious Apollo performance is uncertain. The prize, as Vaughan recalled later to Marian McPartland, was $10 and the promise of a week's engagement at the Apollo. After a considerable delay, Vaughan was contacted by the Apollo in the spring of 1943 to open for Ella Fitzgerald.
January 31, 2013
By Kenneth Miller
Last September Ayuko Babu was at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference sitting in the audience of a panel discussion about African films.
He unquestionably has such an astute resume that would have qualified him to lead the panel, but on this day Babu was just listening and taking notes and in the room of just roughly a dozen was one of the crowd.
As renowned and revered as Babu is, perhaps his greatest human quality is that of humility which is why the 20th annual Pan African Film Festival has earned a reputation of being among the best in the world.
When the festival unfolds from Feb. 9th through Feb. 20th in Baldwin Hills at the Rave Theatres and the Baldwin Hills Mall it will not just be reflective of harnessing a vision that Babu shared with his good friend and accomplished actor Danny Glover and Emmy Award winning actress Ja’Net DuBois, but also one the Crenshaw community can embrace.
“This is a place where people come from across the planet with all of their stories. For Black folks in Los Angeles it is a God sent experience of going around the world in 10 days without having to purchase an airline ticket,” Babu told the Sentinel in an exclusive interview.
He founded the PAFF in 1992 with a goal of elevating the importance of independent filmmaking and establishing a platform for people of color to tell their stories on the big screen.
This year the festival comes on the heels of the highly controversial Oscar nominated film ‘Django Unchained’ that sparked an outpouring debate about slavery and the dreaded N-word.
“Each year is different and an opportunity for voices to come out and tell our stories,” added Babu.
While not specifically referring to ‘Django’, Babu explained that stories of film are always something new, ours are intimate, but the world of creativity is unlimited.
Babu attempts to explore and reveal through the festival “Our” story from more than 150 films, shorts ad documentaries, reflective of Africans from throughout the continent of Africa and America.
They come from Jamaica, Canada, Soweto, Nigerian, South Africa and more, but that language as depicted in their stories on film is directly from the chorus of the heart, with a trumpeting spirit that captures the soul.
When asked which films were creating the buzz for this year’s festival, Babu said,” It’s hard to say, but there is a documentary about Iceberg Slim produced by Ice T that clarifies the mystery of what he was all about.”
He also pointed to a couple of others such as ‘Home Again’, as a film good for Blacks to see and ‘Otelo Bernie’, a film about South Africa and the liberation of South Africa centered abound an integrated surfing team.
“Until we begin to understand and tell our ancient stories it will be difficult for us to see where we are going,” Babu offered.
The PAFF is a non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring more than 1000 students from local middle schools and high schools to attend the festival.
Each weekend during the festival there will be a children’s festival from 10am-12pm for kids’ ages 4-12 where story telling will take place. It’s free to the public.
A jazz concert will be held at the Baldwin Hills Mall that will also be free, and for those in the film business or who aspire to be in films there will be workshops and opportunities to meet filmmakers, producers and distributors.
There are also the massive arts that will be available for purchase throughout, paintings, beads, jewelry and the like.
As Babu would say it best, there is just no excuse to miss it…
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