December 27, 2012
GRAMMYS AND BLACK PRESS
In a move that can only be described as historic and unprecedented, the Recording Academy (Grammys) and the Los Angeles Sentinel/Black Press reached a mutual understanding that signaled the end of an ugly era that saw media access being arbitrarily denied to the Black Press in general.
Neil Portnow, Chairman of the Grammys met with Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., Chairman and executive publisher of the Los Angeles Sentinel and the L.A. Watts Times and mutually resolved the issue equal access for the African American Press to cover the Grammys in the future.
Don Cornelius, the smooth-voiced television host who brought black music and culture into America’s living rooms when he created the dance show “Soul Train,” was found dead at his home in Los Angeles early Wednesday in what appeared to be a suicide, the authorities said. In the early-morning hours of February 1, 2012, officers responded to a report of a shooting on Mulholland Drive and found Cornelius with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead by the Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner. According to former Soul Train host, Shemar Moore, Cornelius may have been suffering from early onset of dementia or Alzheimer's disease and his health had been in decline. Cornelius was 75.
At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting to Exhale.”
On February 11, 2012, Whitney Houston was found dead in her guest room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California. Subsequent toxicology reports showed that she had accidentally drowned in the bathtub due to the effects of chronic cocaine use and heart disease. News of her death coincided with the 2012 Grammy Awards and featured prominently in American and international media. Houston was 48.
Won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Minny, the outspoken maid in the 2011 film, The Help, for which she also received accolades such as the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Less than three years after pleading guilty to felony assault for attacking singer and then girlfriend Rihanna, Chris Brown appears to be back on top—boasting three performances and taking home the 2012 Grammy for Best R&B Album for F.A.M.E.
Contestants Adrian Battle and Beau Williams were the co-winners of the inaugural Starquest Talent Competition at the 7th annual Taste of Soul in October. Both singers appeared to be genuinely stunned after they were declared the winners as the crowd clapped and whistled.
MAGIC JOHNSON AND P DIDDY
Coming soon to your living room...24 hours of Diddy and Magic Johnson. Cable giant Comcast announced that the company will work with the media moguls to launch their own branded channels, as part of a mandate given to Comcast to support minority-owned networks. The company has said it will launch 10 such networks by 2018.
SUSAN D. AUSTIN
As the new chair at BMI, Susan Davenport Austin becomes one of the most powerful and influential women in radio.
Austin was elected by her peers, as chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). She became the first woman and the first Black woman to serve in that capacity; previously, she was the vice chair.
Best known for his role as George Jefferson on the CBS television series All in the Family and The Jeffersons, and as Deacon Ernest Frye on the NBC series Amen. He also played Earl Sinclair's horrifying boss, a Triceratops named B.P. Richfield, on the Jim Henson sitcom Dinosaurs.
He's already the top-earning rapper, now Dr. Dre is also the highest-paid musician, according to Forbes. The rapper-producer raked in $110 million this year, taking in $100 million before taxes in a deal with HTC and his Beats headphone line.
December 20, 2012
By Adam Howard
Special to the NNPA from the SC Black News
“We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us!”
Twenty years ago, Spike Lee made movie history. His epic biopic of the controversial and complex Malcolm X became a cultural touchstone, made Denzel Washington an A-list superstar and cemented his status as a true auteur to be reckoned with.
Yet the film’s path to the big screen was far from smooth and the movie’s eventual success was anything but guaranteed.
Hollywood had sought to adapt Malcolm X’s story since not long after his assassination in 1965. Legendary author James Baldwin even wrote a draft of the screenplay in 1968. But the subject matter and political climate during the ensuing decades prevented a Malcolm X movie from being made.
Eventually Norman Jewison, who directed one of Sidney Poitier’s greatest films, In the Heat of the Night, was tapped to helm Malcolm X’s story. Rising star Denzel Washington, who co-starred in Jewison’s A Soldier’s Story, was cast in the lead.
Although Jewison was a highly-respected, socially conscious filmmaker, there was widespread concern about a white director bringing the life of a black nationalist to the big screen. After a loud, growing chorus, led by Spike Lee, called for his removal from the project, Jewison stepped aside.
“If Norman actually thought he could do it, he would have really fought me. But he bowed out gracefully,” Lee said.
Once Spike Lee was installed as the director by producers he made no bones about the fact that this would be his “vision.”
“I’m directing this movie and I rewrote the script, and I’m an artist and there’s just no two ways around it,” Lee said. “But it’s not like I’m sitting atop a mountain saying, ‘Screw everyone, this is the Malcolm I see.’ I’ve done the research, I’ve talked to the people who were there.”
Yet Lee, no stranger to controversy himself, was also a polarizing choice for some.
An anti-Spike Lee rally was even held in Harlem led by black radical poet Amiri Baraka.
“We will not let Malcolm X’s life be trashed to make middle-class Negroes sleep easier,” said Baraka.
“Based on the movies I’ve seen,” he said in an interview with Newsweek, “I’m horrified of seeing Spike Lee make Malcolm X. I think Eddie Murphy’s films are better.”
Although Washington had portrayed Malcolm in an off-Broadway production to considerable critical acclaim, there were many who objected to him winning the big screen role because of his lack of resemblance to the real-life icon.
“In real life, Washington, who is about 6 feet tall and the color of mocha, bears little resemblance to the reddish-brown, 6-foot-4-inch Malcolm — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by many who knew the Muslim leader,” the New York Times reported in 1992.
It turns out complaints about the director and star were the least of the production’s problems.
Lee sought to make a truly epic film in the style of the previous year’s JFK or David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. This meant a 3-hour plus running time, elaborate period sets and international location shooting — which would include footage from the holy sites in Mecca.
However Warner Brothers, the studio financing the movie, was only willing to commit to a budget of roughly $30 million. When Lee began to go over budget there was a legitimate threat that creditors would shut the entire production down.
“The budget that we had for Malcolm X… everybody knew it was not adequate. We knew it, the bond company knew it. And Warner Brothers knew it,” Lee said during an appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio.
Desperate, Lee sought out a who’s who of black America’s rich and famous to donate funds to save Malcolm X. Bill Cosby, Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and Prince are just a few of the illustrious names who kept the film afloat.
“I called Magic [Johnson], he wrote a check. Then I called Michael Jordan, told him how much Magic gave,” quipped Lee.
With the movie now solvent again, Lee was able to complete the film as he saw fit and it hit theaters on November 18, 1992.
The movie performed solidly at the box office, earning $48 million domestically, and scored widespread critical acclaim.
The Washington Post‘s critic called Malcolm X “Spike Lee’s most universally appealing film. An engrossing mosaic of history, myth and sheer conjecture.”
In a rave review, film critic Roger Ebert wrote, “Watching the film, I understood more clearly how we do have the power to change our own lives, how fate doesn’t deal all of the cards. The film is inspirational and educational — and it is also entertaining, as movies must be before they can be anything else.”
Ebert would name it the best film of the year and one of the best films of the 1990s.
Someone in the family is ready to give you something. Open yourself up to it. Home improvement –mental, physical and spiritual– is this week’s best theme. Seek the simple pleasures from a neglected hobby this week. Soul Affirmation: I love charming, positive head games.
How efficient you are this week! Your busy mind is focused on productivity and achievement. Both come easily to you, so take your advantage and press forward. Soul Affirmation: I see myself as a finisher rather than a starter this week.
Entertainment and companionship are high on your list of things to enjoy this week. Use your mental gifts to speed carefully through your work so that you’ll have more time for fun this week. Soul Affirmation: This week silence speaks loudest and truest.
Your only real caution this week is to watch your budget. Other than that, happiness remains the focus, as relationships heat happily up. Your family is very supportive and loving right now; let them meet your new admirer. Soul Affirmation: I speak my mind knowing that truth is my best defense this week.
Romantic daydreams may distract you from work this week; try to stay focused, but also enjoy your mental trips to romantic sunnier spaces. These images will inspire you to take action regarding a trip or get-together with your honey. Soul Affirmation: I let my dreams take over my mind to provide enjoyment.
Partnerships continue to be featured this week. This week is especially favorable for a fresh start or a new beginning for you in love. Avoid distractions at work this week and you’ll get much accomplished. Soul Affirmation: There is a funny side to everything I see.
Friendship remains highlighted; you may be attending a social event with good friends, or may be planning one. Whichever, it will be a very happy occasion. Be happy! You’ve got many loving friends. Soul Affirmation: Hope is a beautify jewel. I enjoy owning it.
You may find out this week that the project you didn’t really want to work on has been scrapped. That leaves you plenty of time to finish up the stuff you want to work on! Money concerns ease up. This week a romantic get-together will remind you of what bliss really is! Soul Affirmation: He who asks might seem foolish for a while.
Keep an eye on your budget this week, but also indulge your creative senses with the visual and the tactile. You might find yourself wanting to “feel” something new in your hands. Just the feeling may be enough; you don’t necessarily have to spend money to satisfy your artistic urge this week. Soul Affirmation: Happiness is my only goal this week.
Call early in the week and make a date so you can catch the person that you want to spend time with this week. An old love may turn up in your romantic mix, and romance will be very sweet if you rise above the temptation to remember why you split in the first place! Soul Affirmation: What I need to be is fully present inside of me.
Your vibes are calling to you this week to think fondly of all the love you are now giving and have given. Love itself makes you a better you. So act the fool and love with all your big sunny self. If things get stressful repeat your magic word to yourself: LOVE! Soul Affirmation: Freedom of mind is the greatest gift for me this week.
Some quiet time could fill the bill nicely for you this afternoon. You need some space to let your creativity spread out, so enjoy the moments of solitude and make your necessary phone calls later. Relax! Soul Affirmation: I let myself be the cheerful me.
By Chelsea Battle
LAWT Contributing Writer
If you’ve ever strolled down the aisles on the 3rd floor of Macy’s at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, chances are you’ve passed right by The Museum of African American Art and didn’t even notice it. The truth is, it’s one of LA’s best-kept secrets.
Now, more than ever, is the time to do a double take as you exit the elevator near the museum entrance. Look for it! That is because LA’s hidden jewel is now showcasing one of its most interesting attractions ever: “The 90 That Built LA” exhibit.
The 90 That Built LA is a free exhibit sponsored by the Los Angeles Urban League and Time Warner Cable. The league will use this project as a platform to celebrate not only it’s 90 plus years of service to the community, but 90 dynamic individuals who have helped to shape our fair city. From December 13 until February 28th patrons will be able to view an impressive collection of historical artifacts, artwork, and photographs chronicling the contributions of individuals who have helped to shape Los Angeles in the areas of entertainment, education, politics, and community development.
“For several years, the Urban League has dreamed of putting together this exhibit, but we could not make it happen until we had a committed partner, Time Warner Cable,” said Los Angeles Urban League Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Chris Strudwick-Turner.
“Like us, they saw the vision of what this exhibit could be and they have been with us every step of the way as a presenting sponsor to put this exhibit together for the community.”
Given the countless numbers of people who have dedicated their lives to making a difference, whittling the selection down to 90 was doubtlessly a challenge. At the exhibit’s grand opening last Thursday, project coordinators emphasized that there are certainly more than 90 individuals who have contributed to LA. However, having designated the number of spots, they made the decision to allow the community and project board members to choose the notorious 90. Some of the honorees include Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Councilman Bernard Parks, former mayor Tom Bradley, dance choreographer Lula Washington, community organizer Cesar Chavez, and Danny Bakewell, the publisher for the Los Angeles Sentinel.
It would be hard to come up with a reason to miss this exhibit. From Kwanza through Black history month this free, local exhibit will provide an in depth history lesson that you won’t find elsewhere. As you plan your visit, remember to grab a child’s hand and bring them along too.
Photos courtesy of Malcolm Ali
December 20, 2012
By Mark Kennedy
Some key figures who helped manage Michael Jackson’s career are teaming up to create a stage musical about the behind-the-scenes making of a superstar that producers call a cross between “Goodfellas” and “Dreamgirls.”
Producers Mark Lamica, Quincy Krashna, Jerry Greenberg, Raymond Del Barrio and Larry Hart will join forces to present “The Man,” a fictional show inspired by the rise of Jackson, Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston. The story will be told through the eyes of a manager.
“We want this project to be a compelling, gritty, entertaining tale, that tells the story of the price of fame in a new way,” said Lamica, who served as a partner with the late Frank Dileo, who was Jackson’s manager.
“The Man,” with a book by Lamica and Grammy Award-winning composer Hart, is expected to open in Las Vegas in the late fall of 2013. The show will have all original music and will follow the superstar from the 80s to 2005.
The producing team last combined to create “Larry Hart’s Sisterella,” a pop-rock update of the Cinderella fable that Jackson was an executive producer on before his death.
Greenberg was president of Jackson’s jointly owned record label with Sony Music for 11 years. Krashna is another Dileo partner who also worked with Jackson.
Lamica, in a statement, called the musical an “epic, music driven dramatic work” and said he is drawing widely from personal experiences. “This is a fictional template and story that, with some variation, fits a number of global celebrities,” he added.
Page 43 of 61