May 30, 2013

If you missed your chance to grab tickets for the kick-off concert of Beyoncé’s North American tour at STAPLES Center on June 28th, you’re in luck.  Great production seats will be released today as part of a 3-day ticket package special offer.  Not only will tickets to the much anticipated Beyoncé performance be included, but the bundle will also offer purchasers admission to additional BET Experience at L.A. LIVE shows at STAPLES Center featuring Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, J.Cole and Miguel on Saturday, June 29th and R. Kelly, New Edition and The Jacksons on Sunday, June 30th.  All artists will perform full sets.  This is something that you won’t want to miss, but you have to act fast as seating is limited and the tickets will go quickly.

The 3-day ticket package is available at or

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 30, 2013

By LINDA DEUTSCH | Associated Press


A top executive of the company that was producing Michael Jackson's "This Is It" tour acknowledged reluctantly Tuesday that he negotiated a deal for the doctor that the pop star had chosen to accompany him.

But AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware testified his only role in the matter was negotiating the price of Dr. Conrad Murray's services in compliance with what Jackson asked him to do.

Gongaware said that neither he nor anyone at the entertainment giant investigated Murray's background or credentials.

"The fact that he had been Michael Jackson's personal physician for three years was good enough for me," Gongaware said.

Gongaware, the Co-CEO of AEG Live, testified in the Los Angeles trial as a hostile witness called by lawyers for Jackson's mother in her negligent-hiring lawsuit.

He came under aggressive examination by plaintiff's attorney Brian Panish on whether AEG or Jackson was responsible for hiring Murray, who was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the superstar's death.

Jackson died in 2009 after being given a powerful anesthetic.

Asked if he knew that Murray was in financial difficulties when he took the job as tour doctor, Gongaware answered no.

He said that Murray initially asked for $5 million to travel to London with Jackson and tend to him during the tour.

"I just told him it wasn't going to happen," he said, recalling that Jackson then suggested offering him $150,000 a month.

"Michael Jackson insisted on it and recommended him and it was not for me to tell him no," said Gongaware, who is a defendant in the multibillion-dollar lawsuit.

"I wanted to provide what was necessary for him to do his job...He wanted a doctor and I wanted him to be healthy."

Even after the offer of $150,000, Murray wasn't satisfied.

"He started saying he wanted more and I said, 'The offer is coming directly from the artist," Gongaware said.

Minutes later, he said Murray accepted.

"Did that seem desperate to you?" asked Panish.

"No," said Gongaware. "He just accepted Michael's offer."

During Tuesday's court session, Katherine Jackson was accompanied to court by her singing star daughter Janet who sat beside her for the first half of the day. Later, her sister, Rebbie took the seat.

Gongaware often pleaded poor memory of events. He said he may have met with Jackson as many as 10 times, but could remember only two of the meetings and only one when Murray was present.

Prodded by Panish, he remembered a meeting at which Jackson arrived late from a doctor's appointment and had slurred speech.

"He was a bit off," he said, "that was the only time I saw him like that."

At the heart of the case is who hired Murray. At first, Gongaware insisted he did no negotiating with Murray, but, confronted with emails and his previous testimony, he changed his position and said, "The only thing I did with Dr. Murray was negotiate a price."

He indicated that he was so shocked by Murray's demand that he consulted a doctor friend to see what he would charge for the same job. The other doctor said he would have gone on tour for $10,000 a week.

"Did you ever convey that to Michael Jackson?" asked Panish.

"I don't recall," said Gongaware whose testimony was peppered with that phrase.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 23, 2013

Sentinel News Service 


The kudos just keeps on coming for the Pan African Film Festival. After a month-long business trip to Africa visiting an international film festival and several film events, Ayuko Babu, executive director of PAFF along with director of programming, Asantewa Olatunji, returned to Los Angeles with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA). AMAA, considered the African Oscars, held its ninth award ceremony on April 20, 2013 in Yenagoa, Nigeria, the Bayelsa state capital, honoring top films and performances from Africa and its Diaspora.

PAFF, America's largest and most prestigious international Black film festival, wrapped its 21st anniversary with the documentary, “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,” directed by Shola Lynch  at the Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. In February, the festival screened a total of 154 films, representing 34 countries -- that is, 23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts.

“It’s very humbling to receive such a prestigious honor from the African Movie Academy,” said Babu. “It’s thrilling for the work of the Pan African Film Festival to be recognized on this level by the international film community. It’s also a testament to the contribution and global impact this film festival has made in bringing stories from around the world to American audiences.”

While in Africa, Babu and Olatunji were special guests of the Pan African Festival of Cinema and Television (FESPACO) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as well as the nomination committee meetings for AMAA in Lilongwe, Malawi. The two also attended the official press launch for the Accra International Film Festival held near the Du Bois Centre in Accra, Ghanna. 

Earlier this year, PAFF also received the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), recognizing its contribution to cinematic arts.

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is an official event of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa's Celebration of African American Heritage Month. PAFF is sponsored by Union Bank; Macy's; Wells Fargo Bank; General Motors; Sony Pictures, CareMore; Water Replenishment District of Southern California; South African Airways; the National Film and Video Foundation; One Village; Addco Party Rentals; TestFlick; O.N.E. Coconut Water; Dama Tequila and Mascarade Liqueur; the Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; as well as Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District) and Los Angeles City Council members Bernard C. Parks (District 8), Jan Perry (District 9), and council president Herb J. Wesson Jr. (District 10).

Wrapping up its 21st anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF), is America's largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, South America, the South Pacific, Latin America, Europe and Canada. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 30, 2013


Entertainment Editor


It’s been almost 50 years since the late Ted Watkins put the city of Watts on the map developing it as a treasured African American culture base that today is known throughout the world.

It’s his son Tim Watkins, who is carrying the might of his legacy as President and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, but ultimately rising pop diva Mali Nicole might be brightest star in the family tree. Nicole is the great grand- daughter of Ted Watkins and is Tim Watkins granddaughter.

The tiny city of Watts is no stranger to celebrities in both music and sports.

Tyrese Gibson catapulted to fame after performing a soda pop jingle and is now a star in both music and film.

The late ‘At Last’ vocalist Etta James resided in Watts, Olympic gold medalist and world record holder the late Florence Griffith-Joyner grew up there, and rapper Jay Rock who fought to make a name for himself is from Watts.

However, none of them symbolizes what teen sensation Mali Nicole does.

In a new age of social media and transforming generations, Nicole is a teenage rising pop and R&B singer approaching who at 16 has captured the imagination of the entertainment industry with a voice that’s a cross between Whitney Houston and Beyoncé.

With glowing light hazel eyes, a caramel skin coat that melts your heart and shoulder length blonde hair as the flavor of the day, Nicole appears to be on her way.

She has embraced her family heritage, but is bold and gifted enough to be singularly focused on following her own unique path to success.

“I know that my great grand father was a famous developer in Watts who did many wonderful things,” said Nicole in her soft voice.

Tim influenced Nicole and his other grandchildren to follow their dreams, while he continues to be the caretaker of his father’s.

For Nicole, the daughter of Tim’s son Robert, it was music and entertainment.

“I just love music. It’s something that I want to do all the time,” she told the Sentinel.

Her singing career when she joined her other siblings as part of a group.

Their act Statik Express led them to an audition and a nice run on the talent reality show X-Factor where they rocketed to top 30 list of performers, but Mali Nicole really stood out.

During an impromptu interview for the show, the group was ask to sing the national anthem and while all sang admirably, it was Nicole’s voice which dominated the song.

Many management companies took notice, but their ears really perked up when Nicole sold 30,000 CDs out of the family garage.

The red hot smash hit ‘Krush’ elevated her to a new stratosphere and then another subsequent video ‘A Thousand Years’, a joint dedicated to her parents on their wedding anniversary lit up on the Internet, and  ’Sweet 16’ a single about her 16th birthday put icing on the cake.

Booming managing firm Stampede Management rushed to sign her to a roster that includes the likes of Snoop, DJ Quik, Mystikal and YG among others, banking that Mali Nicole is a star.

Now, Stampede Management may have their new franchise player.

After trying her hand at acting at the age of seven, tagging along with her father to acting classes, Mali Nicole transformed into someone special when they put microphone in her hand at the age of 10.

Having performed on numerous mix tapes with super stars such as Chris Brown, Omarion and Justin Beiber, Nicole still distinguished herself with a voice that is effortless and powerful, signing each note with her teenage signature.

Nicole credits her parents as her greatest inspiration, but also admires the stage presence of Beyoncé and sites influence of  ‘Pop King’ Michael Jackson as to why she works day in and out on her craft.

“I know there is no substitute for hard work and I know that Beyoncé works harder and most people in this business which is why she’s so successful. I want to be like that,” Nicole said.

Nicole has the support of her family and hometown and is already prepping for her first CD expected to come out later this year.

"I have been singing all my life and I can't stop. Its something I have always wanted to do and I'm ready to do big things."

In years to come, she visions herself with a Grammy and touring the world.

Obviously she will carry the family heritage with her every step of the way, but this diva is a developer of a serenading music aimed at enticing a ‘Krush’.

Follow Mali Nicole on twitter and Facebook at malinicolemusic.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 23, 2013


ARIES (March 21-April 19)

"I'm still learning," said Michelangelo when he was 87 years old. For now, he's your patron saint. With his unflagging curiosity as your inspiration, maybe your hunger for new teachings will bloom. You will register the fact that you don't already know everything there is to know . . . you have not yet acquired all the skills you were born to master . . . you're still in the early stages of exploring whole swaths of experience that will be important to you as you become the person you want to be. Even if you're not enrolled in a formal school, it's time to take your education to the next level.


 TAURUS (April 20-May 20)

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman admitted that physicists can't really define "energy," let alone understand it. "We have no knowledge of what energy is," he said. "We do not have a picture that energy comes in little blobs of a definite amount." While it's unlikely that in the coming weeks you Tauruses will advance the scientific understanding of energy, you will almost certainly boost your natural grasp of what energy feels like both inside and outside of your body. You will develop a more intuitive knack for how it ebbs and flows. You will discover useful tips about how to make it work for you rather than against you. You're already a pretty smart animal, but soon you'll get even smarter.


GEMINI (May 21-June20)    

Giant Sequoias are the biggest trees on the planet. Many are more than 300 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Their longevity is legendary, too. They can live for 2,000 years. And yet their seeds are tiny. If you had a bag of 91,000 seeds, it would weigh one pound. I suspect there's currently a resemblance between you and the Giant Sequoia, Gemini. You're close to acquiring a small kernel that has the potential to grow into a strong and enduring creation. Do you know what I'm talking about? Identify it. Start nurturing it.


CANCER (June 21-July 22)  

Don't take yourself too seriously. The more willing you are to make fun of your problems, the greater the likelihood is that you will actually solve them. If you're blithe and breezy and buoyant, you will be less of a magnet for suffering. To this end, say the following affirmations out loud. 1. "I'm willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them." 2. "I'm sorry, but I'm not apologizing any more." 3. "Suffering makes you deep. Travel makes you broad. I'd rather travel." 4. "My commitment is to truth, not consistency." 5. "The hell with enlightenment, I want to have a tantrum." 6. "I stopped fighting my inner demons. We're on the same side now."


LEO (July 23-August 22)

Would you buy a stuffed bunny or a baby blanket that was handcrafted by a prisoner on death row? Would you go to a cafe and eat a sandwich that was made by an employee who was screaming angrily at another employee while he made your food? Would you wear a shirt that was sewn by a ten-year-old Bangladeshi girl who works 12 hours every day with a machine that could cut off her fingers if she makes one wrong move? Questions like these will be good for you to ask yourself, Leo. It's important for you to evaluate the origins of all the things you welcome into your life -- and to make sure they are in alignment with your highest values and supportive of your well-being.


VIRGO  (August 23-Septeber 22)

Having good posture tends to make you look alert and vigorous. More than that, it lowers stress levels in your tissues and facilitates the circulation of your bodily fluids. You can breathe better, too. In the coming weeks, I urge you to give yourself this blessing: the gift of good posture. I encourage you to bestow a host of other favors, too. Specialize in treating yourself with extra sweetness and compassion. Explore different ways to get excited, awaken your sense of wonder, and be in love with your life. If anyone calls you a self-involved narcissist, tell them you're just doing what your astrologer prescribed.


LIBRA (September 23-October 22)

The German word Fernweh can be translated as "wanderlust." Its literal meaning is "farsickness," or "an ache for the distance." Another German word, Wandertrieb, may be rendered as "migratory instinct" or "passion to travel." I suspect urges like these may be welling up in you right now. You could use a break from your familiar pleasures and the comforts you've been taking for granted. Moreover, you would attract an unexpected healing into your life by rambling off into the unknown.


 SCORPIO  (October 23-November 21)

We call it "longing," says poet Robert Haas, "because desire is full of endless distances." In other words, you and the object of your yearning may be worlds apart even though you are right next to each other. For that matter, there may be a vast expanse between you and a person you consider an intimate ally; your secret life and his or her secret life might be mysteries to each other. That's the bad news, Scorpio. The good news is that you're in a phase when you have extraordinary power to shrink the distances. Get closer! Call on your ingenuity and courage to do so.


SAGITTARIUS (November 22-December 21)

Are you ready to go deeper, Sagittarius? In fact, would you be willing to go deeper and deeper and deeper? I foresee the possibility that you might benefit from diving in over your head. I suspect that the fear you feel as you dare to descend will be an acceptable trade-off for the educational thrills you will experience once you're way down below. The darkness you encounter will be fertile, not evil. It will energize you, not deplete you. And if you're worried that such a foray might feel claustrophobic, hear my prediction: In the long run it will enhance your freedom.


CAPRICORN (December 22-January 19)    

In the course of his 91 years on the planet, artist Pablo Picasso lived in many different houses, some of them rentals. When inspired by the sudden eruption of creative urges, he had no inhibitions about drawing and doodling on the white walls of those temporary dwellings. On one occasion, his landlord got upset. He ordered Picasso to pay him a penalty fee so that he could have the sketches painted over. Given the fact that Picasso ultimately became the best-selling artist of all time, that landlord may have wished he'd left the squiggles intact. In every way you can imagine, Capricorn, don't be like that landlord in the coming week.


 AQUARIUS  (January 20-February 18)      

"I was often in love with something or someone," wrote Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. "I would fall in love with a monkey made of rags. With a plywood squirrel. With a botanical atlas. With an oriole. With a ferret. With the forest one sees to the right when riding in a cart. With human beings whose names still move me." Your task, Aquarius, is to experiment with his approach to love. Make it a fun game: See how often you can feel adoration for unexpected characters and creatures. Be infatuated with curious objects . . . with snarky Internet memes . . . with fleeting phenomena like storms and swirling flocks of birds and candy spilled on the floor. Your mission is to supercharge your lust for life.


PISCES (February 19-March 20)

Scientists in Brazil discovered a huge new body of water 13,000 feet beneath the Amazon River. It's completely underground. Named the Hamza River, it moves quite slowly, and is technically more of an aquifer than a river. It's almost as long as the Amazon, and much wider. In accordance with the astrological omens, Pisces, I'm making the Hamza River your symbol of the week. Use it to inspire you as you uncover hidden resources. Meditate on the possibility that you have within you a secret reservoir of vitality that lies beneath your well-known sources. See if you can tap into deep feelings that are so deep you've been barely conscious of them.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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