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March 28, 2013

By Bobbi Booker

Special to the NNPA from the Philadelphia Tribune


New York Times bestselling author and beloved actress Victoria Rowell delivers another hilarious and shocking send-up of the soap opera world, featuring Calysta Jeffries, the unstoppable diva of daytime drama in “The Young and the Ruthless: Back in the Bubbles” (Atria Books, $15).

As we learned from Rowell’s prior hit “Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva,” no one gets in the way of leading lady Calysta Jeffries. Now, after a brief stint in drug rehab, Calysta is back on the set and ready for action as she resumes her role as the star of “The Rich and the Ruthless.” But not everyone in the cast and crew is happy to have the diva back. As soon as she wraps her first return episode, some of her fellow colleagues and cast members are conspiring, once again, to sabotage her career. She’s already survived amnesia, an alien abduction, and death three times over — but all that and a real-life alcohol abuse problem couldn’t keep Calysta down. So her enemies come up with the nastiest plan ever devised. They invite Calysta’s beautiful daughter Ivy to audition for “The Rich and the Ruthless” and offer her a role alongside her very competitive mother, turning Calysta’s whole world upside down.

Rowell’s latest soap opera drama mirrors her own life as one of the most popular figures on America’s premier daytime drama, “The Young & The Restless” (Y&R), which is presently celebrating its 40th Anni­versary. As the feisty “Drucilla Winters,” Rowell was one of the most popular African-American figures in daytime drama and was nominated for three Day Time Emmy Awards and won 11 NAACP Image Awards — yet when she asked for an equal opportunity to try her hand as a scriptwriter, her character was killed off as a leading character.

Currently, Rowell has over 71,000 Twitter follows, and many are fans howling for Y&R to reprise her role. She advises otherwise. “Not only African-Americans, we’ve seen all ethnicities and all walks of life commenting and asking on NPR News, The Washington Post, the National Urban League and the NAACP, why in 40 years of the ‘Young and the Restless’ and there is not one African American executive anywhere, ever? Over 50 percent of the audience are African-American/Black women in the south, with the number one market in Louisiana. Now you know, that we must not be blinded by the smoke and mirrors or blinded by the on-camera talent only. Black consumers spend over $1 trillion a year. Black women are generational buyers, and the power of the purse campaign is in effect right now until we see one Black executive.”

Raised in foster care, Rowell’s credits her success to the foster families that instilled in her the confidence and drive to succeed. Passionately involved in many charities, Rowell founded The Rowell Foster Children’s Positive Plan, a scholarship fund helping foster children thrive through fine arts classes, sports camps, and cultural enrichment.

For more information, visit to follow @victoriarowell.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 28, 2013

By Nicole Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer


A picture couldn’t tell you a thousand words when it comes to Roberta Baskett’s art, unless you peered inside her mind and soul. Once you unveil the visionary tactics of the 87-year-old artist, you will have the pleasure of experiencing unique art creations that may never have been duplicated. Using the naked eye, you will pick up the vivid, colorful and intricate details and 3-D designs, all made with different types of paper, an art form known as Baskart. The copyrighted name is taken from Roberta’s last name, Baskett and is used to describe the artwork that she says you can personally experience.

“It’s just as real as you taking a trip to go there. I take a trip in my art and I live there until it’s finished. I remember one time when I made snow in a piece of art and I had to put on a coat,” she said.

I was able to take that trip as I listened to Baskett’s descriptions of each piece as we navigated throughout her home. Each story advanced from what she says are “visions from God.” A woman deep in her faith, she creates inspirational and positive art to allow people to do what she says, “focus on God and what He can do through us if we remove self from the statics of life, so that we can have a clear channel to God.”

“It made me a true believer in God. If we relax and let go and let God and wait on the Lord, He will, His plans for your life as he did for me and my art. I sit down until something comes to me and then it stops and I wait until God tells me what to do next. And so each piece of art is actually representing God manifesting His love through me for our pleasure,” she said.         

Baskett has always had a calling to be an artist starting from the age of six, but didn’t necessarily realize it. As a child she would make crafted flowers and sell them to her peers and continued making random crafts throughout her childhood.

She never had an interest in what school had to offer, until the death of her mother when she was 17- years old that she decided to focus more on school. She attended UCLA and majored in Interior Design. The class was assigned to often create models of houses out of paper, where cutting and putting together creations that she says was an emergence of an art form. From then she was asked by her church to make a poster to get more children to attend Sunday School.

“In Interior Design, you cater to the 5 senses. So when I was doing this poster to try to attract children to the Sunday school, I thought, they won’t read, so I’ve got to make this poster read to them. I decided to make it in texture, so I drew Jesus and cut him out, cut the grass, the flowers and everything,” she said.       

I asked Baskett, “Do you ever get amazed by your own artwork?” She said, “I’m just as in awe as you are.”

The humble and gentle spirit of Baskett can tell one that she is truly a woman who follows her heart. From her college days, she would even tell you she never followed the rules. She attended Bluefield State College in West Virginia, Joseph Academy of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh, PA where she studied newspaper illustrations and UCLA where she studied Interior Design. After hopping around different schools, that’s when she realized she wasn’t attending school to get a degree, but instead to just do art.

In fact, Baskett has experienced a lot in her lifetime. She worked at the Aerospace Industry where designed panels for the Apollo spacecraft. To add to her list of talents, she has also orchestrated music. She has even had one of her pieces of music played by a Symphony Orchestra and a church hymn sang by recording artists. She continues to wait on messages from God to determine what her next piece of art will be. She hopes to leave a legacy by teaching young people Baskart. A piece of her art titled “Psalms 23” and “The Rooster” is now at the Smithsonian Art Museum, which she expects to be shown sometime this year.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 21, 2013



You’ll want to spend some time with a special friend this week just being together. If you’ve been neglecting a relationship because of work demands, this week is a wonderful week to set things to rights.  Soul Affirmation: I open myself up to the vibrations of love.



Lots of spirituality discussions are going on around you this week. This energy will probably last throughout the week, so expect to enjoy yourself, or pass on all social company and spend the week enjoying yourself. Soul Affirmation: I slow down so love can catch up with me.



 You will get so much done this week that your friends and co-workers will be amazed!  Accomplish this small happy miracle by focusing on serenity instead of perfection. You’ll be very surprised at the results! Soul Affirmation: I listen to the sweet music of the life all around me.



It’s best to keep your opinions to yourself this week, as many will be experiencing minor irritations and general grumpiness. Let others be who they are. You are a beacon of serenity. Others will notice. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy working with others this week.



It’s a great week to tell somebody you are close to that you love them. Saying it aloud gives you energy, and of course your designated adoree will be delighted! Keep the big picture in mind this week and you’ll feel completely buoyant!  Soul Affirmation: When I reach out in love someone is always there.



Hello, home life. After a busy week, all you want to do is savor the feelings of domesticity at home. Or perhaps go shopping to spruce up your living space. Whatever you decide, do it with a close friend. You’ll both enjoy the week more if you are together. Soul Affirmation: Trust gives me a deep sense of peace and joy.



Hardly anyone alive learns new skills in an instant, so cut yourself some slack if you feel you’ve made a beginner’s mistake somewhere. Mistakes are part of the learning process that is called Life, so self-correct and proceed with happiness. Soul Affirmation: My emotions provide me a pathway into the sunshine of my being.



A happy week is in store for sociable you. Lots of friends and a party or two or three will keep your energy bright. Use caution while driving and watch for a pleasant surprise or two this week. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy the spirits of people whose spirits are akin to mine this week.



You’ll have a busy week, as the energy around you seems super-charged. With everyone rushing about, you’ll wonder how you’ll get anything done, much less the things you feel you must get done. Not to worry. Stay calm and flexible and a way will be found. Soul Affirmation: Anticipation of a beautiful night will light up my week.



 You may feel a bit crabby about your health this early this week. If you feel you need a physical checkup, make the appointment this week. If you want to feel and look better this week, skip lunch and take a walk instead. Soul Affirmation: I enjoy learning new things about myself this week.



 All vibes are positive this week, and your vibration may be the most positive of all. Many friends and family members may call, and all will want to see you. You’ve got a way with words this week, so use them to spread the sunshine around. Soul Affirmation: I master fear by knowing that all is well.



Get out and enjoy the sunshine this week.  Remember that the sun is always shining somewhere in our big island home, so use your imagination if the weather isn’t perfect where you are. You can still enjoy your week and the sun that is shining whether you see it or not! Soul Affirmation: What I need to be is fully present inside of me.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 21, 2013

Associated Press


An Atlanta man has pleaded not guilty to charges in the boating collision death of music star Usher's 11-year-old stepson.

The Times of Gainesville reports that Jeffrey Simon Hubbard entered the not guilty plea Tuesday to all charges, including first-degree homicide by vessel.

The boy, Kile Glover, was the son of Usher's ex-wife, Tameka Raymond.

Authorities say Kile and his father, Ryan Glover, were vacationing at Lake Lanier when Hubbard crashed a personal watercraft into the boy's raft July 6. Kile died at a hospital July 21.

Hubbard, whose lawyer Jeff Talley entered the plea on his behalf, also pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless operation of a vessel, unlawful operation of a personal watercraft, boat traffic violation and serious injury by vessel.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

March 21, 2013

By Dwight Brown

NNPA Film Critic


“911. What’s your emergency?” Call center operators are the unsung heroes. Everyday they answer the pleas of frantic people in distress.  We don’t call 911 often, but when we do, we expect the person at the other end of the line to be calm, collected, probing and knowledgeable. They’re no more than voices.  Even if they gave us their names, who would remember them? After all, it’s all about us, not them. ‘Till now.

Tension-filled thriller The Call focuses on the strained, frayed but oh so mutually dependent relationship between victims and their helpers. And for the most part it does so admirably, giving Halle Berry her juiciest role in eons.

Jordan (Berry) works in the L.A. 911 call center. They call it the hive, because with the constant din of conversations it sounds like bees at work. On her shift, she gets calls for help, nuisance calls, calls from admirers. As she will someday teach future operators, there are two basic survival rules: 1. Stay emotionally detached. 2. Never make a promise, because operators rarely see the end results of their work–that’s a cop’s job.

Screenwriter Richard D’Ovidio hadn’t thought much about 911 call center operators until his wife listened to an NPR show about the subject. Good writers don’t just sniff out intriguing subject matter; they base further exploration and development on whether they are gong down a path that is unique or too well worn. 911 folks have never had their story told, so D’Ovidio did some investigating and witnessed their coolness under fire: ““Every time a call came in, my stomach would drop, but they were so calm!…they were the glue of the city. They held the police, the fire, the ambulances – nobody moved in the city without them.”

Exhibit A: “A man is trying to break into my house!” The young girl on the phone is terrified, but Jordan tries to talk her through an escape plan. “Open a window. Hide. Don’t talk.” The teen follows her commands, but they don’t’ work. She’s kidnapped, murdered and her body is found in a field.  Jordan is devastated. Six months later, a rookie operator answers a similar call from a teen named Casey (Abigail Breslin), who has been abducted in a mall and thrown into the trunk of a sedan. The rookie panics and Jordan takes over, calming the screaming victim. The police are alerted, and their efforts are spearheaded by Jordan’s boyfriend, Officer Paul Phillips (Morris Chestnut), and his partner, Jake Devans (David Otunga). Jordan is determined not to let this caller down, but sometimes determination is not enough.

Halley Berry is a movie star, but it’s hard to remember why these days. She’s been in so many big-budget soul-less films and her persona has been chipped away by tabloid headlines that reduce her to failed relationships, contentious custody battles and the men who literally fight for her attention. There couldn’t be a better time to for her to get the press to refocus on her acting, and she makes the most of this opportunity. The script gives Berry a blue-collar character she can make accessible, vulnerable and gutsy. She works the screen like Meryl Streep, giving her best performance since Monster’s Ball.

Chestnut is suitably gallant and stalwart as her caring lover and a cop on a mission. WWE wrestling champion David Otunga (Jennifer Hudson’s main man) is a cool sidekick. Breslin, in her most adult role yet, shrieks and cries for help on cue as her character struggles to find her bearing and gumption. Michael Eklund (TV’s Shattered and True Justice) plays the psychopathic kidnapper with surprising depth. It’s helpful that he doesn’t have a familiar face, and hasn’t played a string of cliché bad guys. His wiry, jittery sleazy demeanor leaves a lasting impression; like John Hawkes from the film Winter’s Bone.

In 1996, director Brad Anderson cut his teeth on a $40,000 film called The Darien Gap, which premiered at the Sundance film festival. His thin filmography includes the indie classic The Machinist, starring a very emaciated Christian Bale. He didn’t need movie credits to prepare him for this tight-as-a-drum, riveting thriller. Directing episodes of The Wire and The Shield gave him the perfect sensibility for guiding this grizzly crime story, which will play even better someday on Saturday night cable TV. He gets great performances out of Berry, Eklund, Breslin and Morris. Gruesome scenes are well staged and choreographed. Anderson’s only serious error is a postscript ending that takes you from reality to cheap horror effects. Even with this misplaced coda, his direction is solid.

The lag time in between call center work life and horrific events is negligible thanks to the pacing of editor Avi Youabian. Cinematographer Tom Yatsko gets all the lighting right; love the bright Southern California skies juxtaposed with the inside of a pitch dark car trunk. Berry’s Jeri Curl Afro wig is a bit distracting. The kidnapper blares his car radio with deafening music, but the musical score is innocuous. Costumes, set design and art direction are on point.

Don’t be fooled. This film is a whole lot scarier than you think it’s going to be. When Casey screams to her tormentor, “Please just kill me,” you get it. At that point, she is so terrified, exhausted and beaten down, she just wants the seemingly inevitable to be over. But it isn’t.

Visit Dwight Brown at

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture