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September 13, 2012

By Sandra Varner/Talk2SV

Special to the LAWT


High stakes money dealing and child molestation weigh heavily by any measure; eliciting headlines though, by comparison, sit at opposite ends of angst and disdain. But the impressive dexterity of actor Nate Parker demonstrates his ability to balance the scales of emotion, making him one of today’s finest on screen talents.

Parker costars in “Arbitrage” the Richard Gere dramatic thriller centered on financial improprieties, from Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. 

Parker also costars in “Red Hook Summer,” the Spike Lee intense drama that posits religion and fractured family dynamics amid sexual innocence, now playing in theaters.

“Arbitrage,” from writer Nicholas Jarecki, is described as a taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance. New York hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller (Gere), on the eve of his 60th birthday, appears the very portrait of success in American business and family life.  Behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is in over his head, desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before the depths of his fraud are revealed.

Miller struggles to conceal his duplicity from his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and daughter, Brooke (Brit Marling), heir-apparent, all the while balancing an extramarital affair. Just as he's about to unload his troubled empire, a bloody accident forces him to juggle family, business, and crime with the aid of Jimmy Grant (Parker), a face from Miller's past.

The 32-year-old Parker’s expanding movie career includes over a dozen feature films. He first received critical attention for his starring role in “The Great Debaters” opposite Denzel Washington. He followed this with a role starring alongside Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. in Red Tails.  He is currently in production on David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” opposite Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, and Ben Foster. Other credits include: “Pride,” “Felon,” “Tunnel Rats” with Michael Pare and “The Secret Life Of Bees,” which featured an all-star cast of Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Paul Bettany. On stage, Parker appeared in “American Voices” opposite Dustin Hoffman, Annette Bening, Rosario Dawson and James Cromwell.

Recently, I spoke to Parker, a Norfolk, VA native who holds an honorary Doctorate from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas and who is known to be fastidious in preparing for each character portrayal. 

“The first role I ever had was on television; it was on “Cold Case.” If I remember, it was a young man who had been molested by a swim coach.  A number of years later, they looked into the murder of the swim coach and my character’s name came up.  I can remember looking at the material trying to figure out how I would create this world and how I would be true to this character. Being someone who has never been molested, I just reminded myself that somewhere in the world a young kid — who is a victim — is going to be watching this and he will be sitting next to the person that is victimizing him.  How would I be able to speak on behalf of that kid and will I do a good job? Will that kid say, ‘he’s so honest?’  That is the kind of approach I take in terms of what I choose to do and the type of messages I want to draw, based on my character analysis.”

His process is enduring. 

“I come from an athletic background; I was a wrestler and in wrestling the stakes are high. If you don’t prepare, it can mean your health. You can break something or hurt yourself.  Wrestling is a one-on-one sport and many times people think it’s you against the other person but most often it’s you against yourself. I take that training with me: the discipline and the work ethic.  So far it’s paid off.”

There are nuances in “Arbitrage,” also costarring Tim Roth, that hearken of days gone by yet there are shades steeped in present day, particularly the sanguine protagonist who doubles as the villain in question. Parker places well in period dramas.  Namely, in “The Great Debaters,” the tender love scene with Journee Smollett — both sitting quietly in a boat in the bayou — rates among my favorite on screen romantic events, their innocence is affecting. 

Parker seems at ease vacillating between eras. “I think that’s probably one of the greatest compliments I have received in my career and perhaps speaks to the reality that — in many ways — we’ve lost the power of the young black man.

“It’s been replaced in the media by the angry black man, or the violent black man, the despondent black man, or the weak black man or the emasculated black man. I put ‘black man’ on it because I’m specifically speaking to our community. People ask me why I play so many period roles and my answer is simple.   I tell them [that] when I see more material reflecting black men in a positive way — that will be progress for the community instead of a detriment — then people will see more contemporary roles [from me].”

Our conversation moves to his role in Spike Lee’s “Red Hook Summer.”

Parker, as Box, is a jaded street thug, once a “church boy” gone by the wayside. The “Red Tails” star opined, “I think it’s important that we recognize those men we see on the street corners with their pants down and their hats backwards; with the ‘blood’ colors and the pistol in their waist, that they are the residue of having been discarded. It first comes with the leadership, you go to any school, and the success of any of those young people is a result of the leadership that has come before them. The people that have guided them so I think with this young man, Box, while it’s easy to play what a gang member is, it’s harder to really speak to his truth. His back story — you know that he’s trying; he was in the church and his mother passed away.  No one filled in the gap.  That’s what’s happening in our community: we’re losing our kids at ages, 12, 13, 14… the girls get pregnant at 11, 12, 13… the boys are becoming gangsters at 11, 12, 13, and it’s not because they are criminal minded.  It’s not because they want to die.  Largely, it’s because of that impermanence where they feel like tomorrow is not guaranteed.  It’s that abandonment where they feel like they don’t have the support of people around them. That can make them feel like tomorrow is not guaranteed so they are raised most often by people that will take advantage, sometimes its gangs.”

Reaching further into his perspective, “Sometimes a gang will provide that security, that safety net, that social experience: all the things that you would hope one can gain in a positive, healthy environment.  I think there’s a lot of judgment that goes on in our generation, among young people, and much of that judgment happens in church.  In my own church, our pastor is younger than me now. I told him I was excited because when I used to go into church all I would see were older people just waiting to die.  They’d lived their lives and now it’s time for them to keel over, so they want to make sure that they are ‘right with God.’  Today, if you look at the energy of young people and what we’re doing with Twitter, Facebook and all these social media outlets, there is such an opportunity for the church to gain a new energy.  When this script (“Red Hook Summer”) was brought it to me I saw so much in it. The church has a responsibility.  It’s my prayer that they step up to the plate and reach out to these young people.”


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 13, 2012

Associated Press


It’s official: Nicki Minaj did not endorse Mitt Romney in a recent rap.

The flamboyant rapper confirmed Monday September 10 on Twitter that she was taking literary license when she referenced the Republican nominee for president. Some took her words to mean she was backing President Barack Obama’s opponent.

Not Obama, though, who told radio station WPYO-FM in Orlando, Fla., that he didn't think it was a Romney plug, adding: “She likes to play different characters.”

In her tweet, Minaj thanked Obama for understanding “my creative humor and sarcasm,” then noted: “the smart ones always do ... sends love & support.”

Minaj rapped the verse in question while making an appearance on the Lil Wayne mix tape track “Mercy.”

A message sent to Minaj’s publicist was not immediately returned.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 13, 2012

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY Associated Press


Concert giant AEG Live is seeking book drafts and manuscripts by Jermaine Jackson that it claims may reveal details about his superstar brother that will help its defense in a lawsuit filed by the singers’ mother.

AEG is seeking drafts and manuscripts of Jackson’s recent book, “You Are Not Alone,” as well as an unpublished memoir it claims may focus on Michael Jackson’s alleged drug abuse.

Jermaine Jackson’s attorneys are fighting the request, calling them overly broad and in violation of the First Amendment, according to court filings. Turning over the writings also would violate the privacy of Michael Jackson’s three children and other family members and constitute a “fishing expedition,” according to documents filed Monday.

AEG’s attorneys contend the writings are important to its defense in a case filed by the singers’ mother claiming the concert promoter failed to properly supervise Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Michael Jackson’s June 2009 death.

Their efforts seek drafts of a book described as “Legacy: Surviving the Best and the Worst,” which was reportedly in the works several years before the pop superstar's death. AEG claims drafts of the work would show issues “of immense relevance to this case, including Michael Jackson's rumored long-term abuse of prescription medication.”

AEG’s attorney Marvin Putnam wrote in an email that the company was seeking the documents because, during his book tour, Jermaine Jackson publicly touted the “details of his brother’s life and death.” Putnam also wrote that Jermaine Jackson claimed he was the “only person qualified to deliver the real Michael.”

The writings are not covered by protections afforded to investigative journalists since they are memoirs, AEG wrote in its motion to get a judge to order the release of the materials. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28.

Jermaine Jackson’s lawyer Kevin Boyle, who also represents his mother in the lawsuit against AEG, was not immediately available for comment.

AEG had promoted Michael Jackson’s comeback shows, titled “This Is It,” which were canceled after his unexpected death due to an overdose of a hospital anesthetic the singing had been given to help him sleep.

The company also is seeking to depose Jermaine Jackson. And it obtained a judge’s order Wednesday requiring Jackson’s longtime friend and dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein to appear for a deposition next month.

Katherine Jackson sued AEG in September 2010, and the case is scheduled for trial in April 2013.

The company also is involved in a separate lawsuit filed by Lloyd’s of London over Michael Jackson’s life insurance policy. Putnam said the company has informed Lloyd’s that it has recouped its losses and is no longer pursuing the claim. Any proceeds should be paid to a company that benefits Michael Jackson’s estate, he said.

AEG’s formal withdrawal of the claim is expected soon, as well as its dismissal from the case filed by the insurer.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 13, 2012



Like-mindedness is going to be hard to achieve among your coworkers, but there are likely to be a few who see things as you do. Choose carefully and find someone to walk with you on this week’s journey. Some words of encouragement might be needed to enlist the person you choose. Soul Affirmation: My needs will be met if I just ask.



Where are you going in such a hurry? What you want you already have. Stop looking around yourself trying to find out what’s missing. Nothing is missing. The best kind of discovery this week is self-discovery. Soul Affirmation: I get because I give.



Knowing and accepting your love nature is extremely important. Don’t try to claim that it is as society says it should be. Acknowledge the fact that your love and friendship are often inseparable. You like to be in an adventure with your lover just as you would a partner or a friend. Create this situation by holding the truth of your nature in consciousness. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy the love that others have for me.



Dive into it! Don’t be intimated by the unknown. Your adventurous spirit can take you to a new place of celebration this week. If you can, bring someone along who can celebrate in the same manner with you. Harmony and peace is the motto that you should chant when you accomplish what you want to do!

Soul Affirmation: Communication is a skeleton key that fits many doors.




This week would be good for getting your house in order so you can spend the extra time outdoors and enjoying the company of others. With an orderly habitat waiting for you, you’ll have a head start for the task you have to accomplish. Soul Affirmation: I open up to the universe. The universe opens up to me.



Don’t spread yourself too thin. But if you’ll need to move around in many different circles this week, your spirit should be high and your vibes are strong for meeting new people. You will be receiving a piece or two of great news. Expect the unexpected. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! Soul Affirmation: I give love and love gives to me.



Strong vibrations make for a series of dramatic interactions with others this week. Practice your art with your heart, and let your energy carry you upwards to your best, highest self. Keep emotions calm. Soul Affirmation: I know where I’m going because I know where I’ve been.



You’ll be energizing others this week as you speak what’s on your mind regarding spiritual matters and masters. The quality of your thoughts is very pure; write yourself a love letter. Soul Affirmation: My imagination is the source of my happiness.



Surprises are in order this week, and you can roll with everything that comes at you unexpectedly. Healing can happen in a relationship if you just show up. That’s power! Use it for the good of others.

Soul Affirmation: This week is the week the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.



You want a comrade who doesn’t place inordinate expectations or demands on you, and who is creative, intelligent, a good conversationalist, and highly spiritual. Perhaps you should be out looking this week with eyes wide open! Soul Affirmation: Cooperation with others is the key to success for me this week.



Work calls and you are not completely happy with current divisions of labor. Do your part as a member of the team and you’ll be glad that you did. Others will notice that you are a committed team player. Soul Affirmation: I master life by mastering myself.



 Business looks good this week as you discover a new way of increasing exposure to your product. Let hope and optimism lead you into new beginnings and fresh starts. All vibes are good. Go! Soul Affirmation: I enjoy flirting with new ideas.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

September 13, 2012

By SANDY COHEN | Associated Press


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Mariah Carey was late to the BMI Urban Music Awards, where she was the guest of honor, but that didn't stop other artists from literally singing her praises.

Fantasia Barrino and Eric Benet were among those who serenaded the star with her own hits. Benet performed "One Sweet Day" and the former "American Idol" sang "Hero" during the private ceremony at the Saban Theatre, where writers, producers and publishers of the year's top urban hits were recognized Friday.

Barrino stepped off stage and stood right in front of Carey in the audience's front row as she wailed the final words of the song. When she finished, they embraced.

BMI chief Del Bryant presented Carey with the music-rights organization's Icon Award for her outstanding songwriting that has resulted in 18 No. 1 singles and more than 200 million albums sold.

Bryant called her "an unparalleled musical superstar" and "the greatest singer in history."

He also endorsed her new position as a judge on "American Idol."

"Who knows more about musical artistry and song selection than Mariah Carey?" Bryant asked.

"Sorry, Randy, didn't see you there," he added, jabbing at Carey collaborator and longtime "Idol" judge Randy Jackson.

Carey, 42, didn't mention "Idol" as she accepted her award.

She simply thanked the performers "for doing something so beautiful with the songs I wrote" and BMI for honoring her songwriting contributions.

"I'm so humbled by this moment because a lot of people still don't know I write my own songs," she said.

Other entertainers honored Friday included Nicki Minaj, who had the year's most played song with "Super Bass," and Drake and Lil Wayne, who were named songwriters of the year for their string of hits. None of the rappers were on hand to accept the honors.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture