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April 18, 2013

By LINDA DEUTSCH | Associated Press


The extensive connections of Michael Jackson, his family and friends became a challenge Monday for a judge trying to seat an impartial jury for his mother's wrongful death lawsuit against the company that promoted Jackson's ill-fated "This is It" concert.

As individual questioning finally began, some jury prospects, who had passed the written portion of the process, had to be excused because of personal connections.

Among them was David Walsh, a Canadian singer-songwriter who said he had met members of the musical Jackson family and was friends with Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson's ex-wife. He said his own manager was on the witness list.

"I've had friends in Michael's band and my best friend was a backup singer on the 'This Is It' concert," Walsh said.

Walsh said he had formed opinions about the case that were probably unshakable.

Katherine Jackson's suit claims AEG endangered Jackson's life by hiring an incompetent doctor, Conrad Murray, to look after the superstar singer. AEG lawyers are expected to argue that Jackson was complicit in his own demise by insisting on hiring Murray and demanding the anesthetic propofol to help him sleep.

The latest phase of jury selection came after jurors filled out questionnaires about their views on Jackson, his family and his life and death.

A preliminary group of 104 prospects was immediately reduced by six when members reported hardships or acquaintances on the witness list.

A medical student said one of her UCLA professors was on the list, but she was allowed to remain when she said she would have no bias about the testimony.

Another panelist said she and her husband do business with one of the law firms involved in the case and that would get in the way of her impartiality.

A woman who is a superior court judge said she knew a number of people on the witness list but it would not interfere with her ability to be impartial, and she remained on the panel.

By day's end, 17 prospects had been excused, most because the extended length of the trial would cause them financial hardships. The case is expected to last through the summer.

More panelists sent notes to Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos before court recessed for the day, asking to be excused. She said she would consider their requests Tuesday.

One member of the jury pool said he had met Dr. Conrad Murray at a barbecue sometime after Jackson's death and they had a social conversation. But he said he didn't realize who Murray was, and once he did, he stopped talking to him. He remained on the panel.

Murray is serving a prison term after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death from an overdose of propofol. Jackson died in his bed in June 2009 at the age of 50.

Complicating the case is the fact that neither Jackson nor AEG had signed Murray's $150,000-a-month contract. Jackson died before Murray was paid.

Katherine Jackson's lawyers contend AEG was negligent in failing to investigate Murray's qualifications before hiring him.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2013

LAWT News Service


Following performances in New York City Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has returned to Los Angeles April from 17-21 with a six performance engagement at The Music Center and activities throughout the city. The company will also hold Revelations student residencies and master classes in schools across the city, sponsored by the Glorya Kaufman Dance Foundation.  Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle in his inaugural Music Center engagement, Ailey’s dancers, including guest artist Matthew Rushing from Los Angeles, will bring three programs to the stage of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion:

AILEY SPIRIT (Sat Eve April 20) Ronald K. Brown’s landmark work Grace, created Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater in 1999, has returned to the repertory in a rapturous, spiritually-charged new production, and Ohad Naharin’s unique and innovative Minus 16, breaks down barriers between audience and performers.

21st CENTURY AILEY (Thur April 18, Sun Mat April 21) Another Night, by rising young choreographer Kyle Abraham, innovatively fuses the many dynamic facets of American dance and showcases the artistry and versatility of the Ailey dancers.  Artistic Director Robert Battle’s Strange Humors is a thrillingly intense duet, set to John Mackey’s propulsive score for strings and African drum that pits two men against each other.  Petite Mort, a ballet of breathtaking sensuality and visual surprises, marks the first time a work by renowned European choreographer Jiří Kylián appears in the Ailey repertory.

CLASSIC AILEY (Fri April 19, Sat Mat April 20) features a vibrant anthology of highlights from founder Alvin Ailey’s prolific 30-year career including sections from Memoria, Night Creature, Phases, Opus McShann, Love Songs, For “Bird” – With Love, Hidden Rites and Cry. 

“All programs culminate with Alvin Ailey’s timeless American masterpiece, Revelations,” said event organizers.

“The Ailey Organization, continuing its mission of using dance to educate, inspire and entertain by reaching young people, will brings its acclaimed Revelations: An Interdisciplinary Approach curriculum program, as well as Master Classes and Lecture-Demonstrations, to Los Angeles area schools,” they said.

“Utilizing Alvin Ailey's signature work, Revelations, the educational program is an inspirational framework for a comprehensive study of language arts, social studies, and dance.   Thanks to the support of Glorya Kaufman, the programs will reach students in Los Angeles area schools.”

On Friday April 19, Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center will host the AILEY DANCE PARTY on the 5th floor of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion immediately following the performance. The party will feature a live DJ, dancing with the Ailey dancers, food and cocktails.  Party tickets are $100 per person, and $75 of each ticket goes to support programs at The Music Center, including arts education and no-to-low-cost community programs.

“Given Alvin Ailey’s history with Los Angeles, the city where he grew up and began his journey in dance, it is only fitting that Ailey will be inspiring so many during the Company’s return,” stated Artistic Director Robert Battle.   “ I’m thrilled to showcase the depth and breadth of the dancers’ artistry  at the Music Center, with a diverse repertory featuring new treasures by  talented contemporary choreographers and a program that highlights the genius of our legendary founder.” 

Renae Williams Niles, Director of Programming for The Music Center, said, “Every time the Ailey company returns its a joyous homecoming as it was right here in Los Angeles that Ailey spent his formative years as a dance student, dancer and budding choreographer.  This year we will highlight the significance and universal allure of Ailey’s Revelations…”

Tickets are priced from $28-$110 and are available at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 135 North Grand Avenue.  Tickets are also available by calling (213) 972-0711 and online at html.  For groups of 10 or more, call (213) 972-8555 or email MCgroup­ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By Chelsea Battle

LAWT Contributing Writer


“Be patient, work hard, know that God’s working for you, and never let your age define your success.”  Carlos King offers up this sage advice from the standpoint of one who has lived its truth.  With his recent success working as Co-Executive Producer for Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, a reality show which attracted an enormous following of more than 3 million viewers with its season premiere alone, King is living proof that patience, faith, and hard work can indeed pay off.

As a young boy growing up in the “Motor City” under the watchful eye of a father who toiled for the Ford Motor Company for twenty long years, Carlos King had already set his sights elsewhere.  He recalls living amongst many plant workers who defined their success by whether or not they worked for one of the “Big 3” plants.   While he respected the work that his father did, he decided early on that Detroit life was not for him. He kept himself sane by watching television, a past time which fueled his dreams of working in the entertainment industry.

“Detroit isn’t really the type of place for entertainment,” King explains. “Being somebody that just knew that I wanted to get involved in the entertainment industry somehow, I was always this kid who just dreamed of making it big and moving to New York City.  I always had this type of ambition because I knew that I didn’t want to just live in Detroit for the rest of my life, and when the opportunity came for me to move to NY you know the rest was history!”

After moving to New York in 2002 and interning for big time shows the likes of The View and 20/20, he eventually went on to work for BET as a production assistant. It was during his stint there that his mentor, Joy Chen, called and offered him the opportunity to work on the then new reality show called The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

“I was like, ‘Oh God—I got to move to Atlanta for like 3 months’, and the money wasn’t going to be good; I was going to have to take a pay cut, so it wasn’t going to be an easy transition for me.  But I always saw the bigger picture because I wanted to do reality. I started working on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and it was the best decision I ever made, because that kind of jumpstarted everything for me.  It has been nonstop for me since 2008. That show really propelled my career to unforeseen heights, and you know I never regretted that decision.”

He continued to work on Atlanta housewives as a producer for four years before moving on to become the Co-Executive Producer for Love and Hip Hop Atlanta with Mona Scott Young, the Executive Producer of the series. Through word of mouth he heard that Young was bringing the then New York based show to Atlanta, and he eagerly jumped at the opportunity. The show became an immediate success, earning recognition as the top rated cable show for women 18-49 years old.

“I called Mona Scott Young myself and I told her that I wanted to work on the show,” King recalls. “We had a meeting like the next day and she fell in love with me; I fell in love with her—and she got me a position as Co-Executive Producer.  When I came on board they were already casting and I cast Carly.  I was like, ‘Mona, Carly is going to be good; she’s messy, trust me!’  I knew immediately after seeing Jocelyn and the whole love triangle that this show was going to be a monster hit. And then it became the number one show on cable!” King proudly exclaims.

As though having the number one cable reality show isn’t noteworthy enough, King also has a few other projects under his sleeve. He has been working on a new show with his good friend and mentor, Tyler Perry.  Called Tyler Perry Comes to OWN, the show premieres May 26th on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. Prior to working on this project, King worked with Winfrey as a show producer for Oprah Behind the Scenes for a year. It was under Winfrey’s tutelage that he learned how to run a production empire as the Oprah Winfrey show was embarking on its final season.

“It was definitely a blessing being able to work with her,” says King, “and just kind of be a sponge and watch how she operates, and just really learn how to run an empire.”

King also has a new production company called Kingdom Reign that he is especially proud of. The company came into fruition in September and has been growing ever since. In addition to developing shows, the company provides consultations for people who are interested in pitching shows.  It also helps develop talent for those who are interested in doing, or are already involved in, reality television.

“I want to continue developing shows that are hot topics discussions for people who love to watch reality TV, explains King. “I don’t think this genre is going anywhere, so I really just want to take things to the next level and have my company be the premiere destination for the reality shows that ignite controversy and conversation [while offering] really quality programming.”

Season 2 of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta will premiere on Monday, April 22nd at 8p.m.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By LAWT News Service


AEG and BET NETWORKS education initiative, Next Level, in partnership with the GRAMMY® Museum, will provide a free, three-day educational and empowerment program for Los Angeles area high school students ages 16-18 who are interested in careers in the music industry during the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE, June 28-30, said event organizers.  Students will learn about careers in music including event production, music journalism, as well as the history and impact of African American culture in music.

“We’re so thrilled to expand the impact of the BET Experience to include a music education element,” said Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks. “We will create an environment where students interested in a career in music have the opportunity to get a unique educational and empowerment program.”

The BET Experience Youth Program begins on Friday, June 28, with a full day of educational activities at the GRAMMY® Museum including a guided tour of the BET exhibit featuring Lifetime Achieve­ment Award recipients curated especially for the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE and the first of several scheduled lectures over the course of the program.  On Saturday, June 29, students will have the opportunity to attend a Music Matters Showcase concert, attend a live taping of “106 & PARK” and engage in a Q&A with the hosts, as well as attend a rehearsal of the BET Awards show.  On Sunday, June 30, BET Experience Youth Program attendees will attend the “SUNDAY BEST” concert featuring Kirk Franklin & Friends, visit the Genius Talk seminars and participate in a Fan Fest Educational Scavenger Hunt.  To conclude the program, students will attend the BET Awards ’13th telecast.

“AEG is committed to increasing educational opportunities for young people, especially in the area of music education,” said Martha Saucedo, executive vice president, External Affairs of AEG.  “We are pleased to provide a hands on opportunity for students to learn about pathways to a career in the music and entertainment industries.”

Eligible students may apply for the BET Experience Youth Program online at www.lalive.betexperience­ A total of 40 students will be selected to participate.  In addition to the online application, students are required to include a letter of recommendation from a teacher and write a 1-2 page essay on the history of African American music and its impact on their lives.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2013

By Kenneth D. Miller

LAWT Asst. Managing Editor


‘Free Angela’, a gripping documentary reflecting the historic events that catapulted a young Angela Davis into a controversial political icon during the turbulent late 1960’s will made its limited release recently.

In Hollywood there are very few Black distributors and there isn’t one on the level of CodeBlack Entertainment’s Jeff Clanagan.

Moviegoers will see Jamie Foxx, Denzel Washington and Halle Berry on the big screen
and feel sense of connection to their character.

Then there are your successful Black screenwriters such as Tyler Perry, Spike Lee and John Singleton who are also behind the lens directing their projects.

Hollywood has not always been kind to Blacks. Since the turn of the century when Oscar Micheaux became the first Black film star in 1914, the industry has mass-produced a negative perception of Blacks.

Way before the success of current stars, Blacks could only get in front of the camera if they wanted to play the role of the maid or the butler, as white filmmakers such as D.W. Griffith produced such despicable films such as ‘Birth of A Nation’, until an even worse--Black filmmaker- Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry- arrived with the character of ‘Stepin Fetchit.’

Clanagan is determined to embrace the Black market and thus become responsible to it.

“The reality is there have been a lot bad experiences for African Americans because we are trying to assemble in Hollywood instead of creating our own commerce and business,” explained Clanagan in a recent exclusive interview from his Lionsgate office Santa Monica office.

Clanagan is the CEO of CodeBlack Entertainment, the first independent, vertically integrated Black owned film studio, actively engaged in the business of feature film production, film distribution, worldwide DVD and digital assets distribution, urban marketing consulting and production of programs for television broadcast and syndication.

He blames as divide and conquer syndrome and crab in the bucket mentality among Blacks as one of the primary obstacles.

“There are five or six major studios and four or five networks, but they don’t have an obligation to give us anything,” he declared.  “The people who run those studios or networks are descendants of people from the past, so they don’t have an obligation to us. So, we go in with our hands out and we get crumbs as opposed to recognizing our economic power that we have proven and harnessing that power to create our own business.”

CodeBlack Entertainment was created to facilitate positive representations of African-Americans in film. A multi-faceted entertainment organization, CodeBlack provides a consistent stream of urban-themed programming that is distributed across theatrical, digital, broadcast and internet-based platforms.

It owns the larges catalog of Black material in the world, an expansive library that consists of dramatic, comedic, romantic and faith-based titles featuring top African American and Latino talent.

In just a short period of time Clanagan has already established CodeBlack Entertainment as an independent distributor of urban-themed content releasing urban content through theatrical, DVD, and broadcast channels and has further increased its equity by developing a strategic business alliance with one of Hollywood's biggest media conglomerates Lionsgate.

The company has a multi-picture deal with Lionsgate, to produce original urban films targeting the African-American market.

Previously he enjoyed such a relationship with Fox where he produced film adaptations of the 1980s Off-Broadway gospel musical hit Mama, I Want to Sing! as well as the popular play A Good Man is Hard to Find. In June 2009, the entered into a partnership with basketball player Shaquille O’Neal to produce and distribute the All Star Comedy Jam series. Featuring some of the most celebrated stand-up comics.

Most recently CodeBlack has enjoyed enormous success with comedian Kevin Hart and has a long working relationship with Lionsgate.

Clanagan elaborated; “Once you are able to create you own business and can do it on your on, then instead of asking for stuff you are able to create partnerships based on your ability to produce. I am not saying that you have to be in business with studios, but there is a way that you can be in business with them as a partner.”

As he sees it there isn’t a system for Black executives to exist at the studios and networks and conversely when Blacks attend college they are not learning about public relations and marketing jobs behinds the scenes, but instead are taught to go for the more popular jobs in front of the camera.

“The other part of that dilemma is that as actors and producers we fail to arm ourselves with the proper information so that we can go in and intelligently negotiate the best deal for us,” he added. “What I mean by that is we don’t understand the numbers and the economics of the movie business.”

Clanagan decided upon the name CodeBlack to directly deal with the stigma of racism in the industry. He courageously ran to who his race, instead of from it. Studios executive have ultimately respected him for his stance.

So, CodeBlack Entertainment doesn’t just have the right man for it’s job, but Hollywood has the right man to be The Black Power of Hollywood.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture