June 28, 2012
By Kam Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
Tyler Perry’s inspirational journey from the hard streets of New Orleans to the heights of Hollywood's A-list is the stuff of American legend. Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Tyler fought from a young age to find the strength, faith and perseverance that would later form the foundations of his much-acclaimed plays, films, books and shows.
It was a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey that set Tyler's career in motion. Encouraged to keep a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences, he began writing a series of soul-searching letters to himself. The letters, full of pain and in time, forgiveness, became a healing catharsis. His writing inspired a musical, “I Know I've Been Changed,” and in 1992 Tyler gathered his life's savings and set off for Atlanta in hopes of staging it for sold out crowds.
And so began an incredible run of thirteen plays in as many years, including “Woman Thou Art Loosed!,” a celebrated collaboration with the prominent Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes. In early 2005, Tyler's first feature film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” debuted at #1 nationwide. His ensuing films “Madea's Family Reunion,” “ Daddy’s Little Girls,” “Why Did I Get Married?,” “ Meet The Browns,” “The Family That Preys,” “I Can Do Bad All by Myself” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” have all met with massive critical and commercial success, delighting audiences across America and around the world.
2006 saw the publication of Tyler's first book, “Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries On Life And Love,” which shot to the top of the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and remained there for eight weeks. It went on to claim Quill Book Awards for both "Humor" and "Book of the Year" (an unheard-of feat for a first-time author), and spread Tyler Perry's unique brand of inspirational entertainment to a devoted new audience.
It is a brand that is quickly becoming an empire. In 2007, Tyler expanded his reach to television with the TBS series “House of Payne,” the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time, which went into syndication after only a year. His follow up effort, “Meet the Browns,” was the second highest debut ever on cable - after “House of Payne.”
Not one to rest on success, Tyler Perry and his 300+ Atlanta-based employees are always hard at work. In the fall of 2008, he opened his 200,000 square foot Studio in Atlanta, situated on the former Delta Airlines campus of more than 30 acres. The Studio consists of 5 sound stages, a post production facility, a pond, a back lot, a 400-seat theater, a private screening room, and designated areas for entertaining and hosting events.
But listen to Tyler Perry and you'll hear a man who hasn't forgotten about the people that have helped him reach the top of a mountain he could once only dream of climbing. He has donated generously to charities that focus on helping the homeless, such as Feeding America, Covenant House, Hosea Feed the Hungry, Project Adventure, and Perry Place - a 20-home community that Tyler built for survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
In July 2009, Tyler sponsored a trip to Walt Disney World for 65 children after learning that a suburban swim club had turned them away because of the color of their skin. Tyler Perry has also built 2 churches and has donated generously to the NAACP. In January 2010, Perry pledged $1,000,000 via The Tyler Perry Foundation to help rebuild the lives of those affected by the recent earthquakes in Haiti.
Tyler Perry practices what he preaches, and what he preaches has endeared him to millions of fans drawn by that unique blend of spiritual hope and down-home humor that continues to shape his inspiring life story and extraordinary body of work. Here, he talks about his latest film, “Madea’s Witness Protection,“ which he not only wrote, directed and produced, but also stars in, playing three roles, including the sassy, straight-talking title character.
LAWT: Hi Tyler. I’m very honored to be speaking with you again, brother.
Tyler Perry: Oh, good, Kam! How’re you doing?
LAWT: Great! I really enjoyed this film. Where did you come up with the inspired idea of mixing Madea with a family in the Witness Protection Program?
TP: I was having dinner with a friend, and we were talking about Bernie Madoff, and he said, “You know what would be a great punishment for Bernie Madoff? If he had to go live with Madea.” [Chuckles] I thought, man, that’s a great concept! I need to go write that script. And then when I asked myself who could play the Bernie Madoff character, of course, I thought of Eugene Levy.
LAWT: How did you determine the casting? Looks like you went for a lot of veteran comedians this time out: Eugene Levy of the American Pie franchise, John Amos of Good Times, Marla Gibbs of The Jeffersons, Doris Roberts of Everybody Loves Raymond, and even Charlie Sheen if you don’t mind my mentioning him in this article since he makes such a surprising cameo.
TP: That’s okay, since he’s only in the outtakes at the very end of the movie. But I was definitely looking for some heavyweights to help me carry the picture, and those were the right people to rely on. So, I’m pretty excited about it.
LAWT: What message do you want people to take away from Madea’s Witness Protection Program?
TP: What is clear to me is that it’s about everything in your life: work, and struggling, and paying attention to grinding, grinding, grinding. It takes their going into a simple situation, living with Madea, a woman who doesn’t even have wi-fi, to realize what family is, come back together, and get to know each other.
LAWT: I have some questions for you from fans. Leon Marquis asks: Do you wear a girdle as Madea?
TP: [LOL] You tell Leon, “Hell no!” It’s bad enough being stuffed into that costume. It’s just one piece that gets zipped up the back.
LAWT: Editor/legist Patricia Turnier asks: Is there a new genre of movie that you would like to make in the future?
TP: Absolutely! It’s not a new genre, but a new genre for me: sci-fi. I have a great sci-fi story that I’m currently working on. I’m going to be all over the place… all over the place.
LAWT: Patricia also asks: What advice do you have for young people entering the movie industry who want to be multifaceted like you are?
TP: You have to want it more than breathing. Developing a good work ethic is key. Apply yourself at whatever you do, whether you’re a janitor or taking your first summer job, because that work ethic will be reflected in everything you do in life.
LAWT: Jessica Angelique says: Mr. Perry, I have recently published my autobiography, “Alas Peace Be Still,” which is dedicated to you. I was inspired to write it after experiencing a catharsis while listening to you share your life story with Oprah Winfrey on October 27th, 2010. I wanted to know if you would be so kind as to write a few words for the Foreword of the second edition. I also hope to actually meet you in person one day to be able to thank you for what you did for me. I don’t think I would be alive today had it not been for your help and the grace of God. TP: Wow! That’s pretty powerful. Yes, I’d love to, Jessica. Get a copy of the book to me, Kam.
LAWT: Sticking with the Oprah theme, legal recruiter Nicole Ibanez wants to know why you always cry on Oprah.
TP: [LOL] I’ve been on Oprah a dozen times, and cried once. Tell Nicole to lighten up.
LAWT: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
TP: That depends on the time of day, because I go from a lion in the morning to a black bear in the evening.
LAWT: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?
TP: I had one request when I started doing the plays. My prayer was: God let me do well enough to be able to take care of my mother. I was able to do that ‘til the day she died because of my audience. So, they’ve already done enough. All I ask for now is their continued support.
LAWT: The Pastor Alex Kendrick question: When do you feel the most content?
TP: When I have absolutely nothing to do, and I find myself in the middle of all of it going, “Wow!” When nothing’s going on, that’s when I get to stop and really appreciate the journey.
LAWT: What do you wish other people would note about you?
TP: I’ve been pretty transparent with all that I’ve done. I think my work speaks a lot for who I am. So, I don’t think there’s a particular thing I’d like them to know.
LAWT: What motivates you?
TP: Gosh, the motivations have changed so much over the years. Today, seeing people laugh definitely inspires me, and so does seeing people get life lessons about living better.
LAWT: What defines who you are?
TP: My faith in God.
LAWT: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
TP: Don’t. They should be finding their own paths.
LAWT: Thanks again for the time, Tyler, and best of luck with the movie.
TP: Thank you, Kam.
To see a trailer for Madea’s Witness Protection, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDNa72ZgymY
June 21, 2012
By Brandon I. Brooks
The name Jimi Hendrix might not ring the same to everyone, but one thing for sure is when you hear the name you will never forget it.
Born Johnny Allen Hendrix, November 2, 1942 in Seattle, Washington, to James Allen “Al” Hendrix and Lucille Jeter, he was later renamed James Marshall Hendrix after an uncle.
Growing up in Seattle, he had a rough child hood, constantly moving around and living with different family members. His parents got divorced when he just nine years of age and his mother died when he was 15 years of age.
Hendrix’s father Al didn’t react well to the death of his ex-wife. It was so bad that he didn’t allow his children to attend their mother’s funeral and he didn’t attend either.
It was during these tough years that “Young Jimmy” as they called him, took to music. His father would catch him pretending to play an air guitar while sweeping and doing chores. It was so bad that young Jimmy didn’t finish chores half the time. The air guitar was a sign. It is as if destiny broke the shackles off of Hendrix and pointed him in the direction of music. This led to Hendrix’s father buying him his first real guitar. He bought him a five-dollar, second hand acoustic guitar.
The Birth of Rock & Soul
Once he owned a guitar his world opened up. Hendrix immediately teamed up with friends and started playing.
Family and friends are on record as saying they always felt he was destined for greatness because he was wise beyond years. His brother Leon describes him as a “prophet.” Most of his family felt that if he had been given an opportunity to attend a college, he would have excelled beyond measure.
He took an interest in music, drawing influence from virtually every major artist at the time, including B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Holly, and Robert Johnson. Entirely self-taught, Jimmy's inability to read music made him concentrate even harder on the music he heard.
At age 17, he joined his first band, The Velvetones. After a three-month stint with the group, he left to pursue his own interests.
The following summer, his father purchased Jimmy his first electric guitar, a Supro Ozark 1560S; Jimi used it when he joined The Rocking Kings.
In 1961, Hendrix was expelled from school and began working with his father which only strained their relationship. After a sever altercation with his father on a job-site, Jimmy left home to make it on his own. He ended up getting into trouble with the law so with nowhere to turn he found a way out of his circumstance by joining the United States Army.
In November 1962, Hendrix earned the right to wear the "Screaming Eagles" patch for the paratroop division. After his initial success in the army he got restless while stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Hendrix missed playing music so dearly he finally convinced his father to send his guitar to Fort Campbell. Once Jimmy got his guitar back he formed a group called, The King Casuals with bassist Billy Cox.
After about 13 months, Hendrix was discharged from the Army by pretending he hurt his back during a parachute jump. He did actually break his ankle during the jump but had to embellish his back pain in order to get discharged from of what he called a “boring” experience in the Army.
Nashville, Tennessee is where Hendrix started working with a band after his discharge. Similar to his army experience, he got bored with waiting around so he left the group because the group didn’t like to travel outside of Nashville. Never one to sit still for long periods of time he decided to move around a bit until he ended up in New York. There he got the opportunity to play at the world-famous Apollo Theatre and actually won first place which back then paid $25 to the winner.
As Hendrix began making a name for on the music scene, he got a great gig playing with The Isley Brothers. Like many things in life, Jimmy got restless and once again decided to go out on his own and make a new way. He landed a great gig performing with B.B. King, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke.
By 1965 he was consistently touring the “Chitlin Circuit,” which at that time was considered the major Black circuit for popular R&B and Blues acts.
Hendrix played alongside greats such as Ike & Tina Turner, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard. Each stint was brief as Hendrix could never stay in one place for too long.
Hendrix then formed his own band, Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, shedding the role of back-line guitarist for the spotlight of lead guitar.
Throughout the latter half of 1965, and into the first part of 1966, Jimmy played the rounds of smaller venues making a legendary impact in Harlem and in the Greenwich Village community.
During the period of the psychedelics 60‘s, Hendrix started experimenting with many different drugs and mainly LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). His peers were amazed at the amount he could take and still function.
Many people credit the psychedelic drugs for taking Hendrix’s music to heights. If you had asked Jimi Hendrix why his music was psychedelic in sound he would have told you that science fiction was responsible for his musical inspirations. Hendrix owned an extensive catalogue of science fiction books. He loved the subject matter dearly. He wasn’t shy about sharing his interest on aliens and the UFO phenomenon.
September 1966, he signed an agreement that would have him move to London to form a new band. He then changed his name to “Jimi,” and with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding, the newly formed Jimi Hendrix Experience quickly became the talk of London in the fall of 1966.
Hendrix’s time in London was the best time in his life because the London public was more excepting of his flamboyant and radical style than the American public. London actually claimed Jimi as their own because America didn’t except him and understand him quite like they did.
It was during this time where the official Jimi Hendrix arrived as a superstar amongst the world stage.
The Experience's first single, "Hey Joe," spent ten weeks on the UK charts, topping out at spot No. 6 in early 1967.
The debut single was quickly followed by the release of a full-length album Are You Experienced, a psychedelic musical compilation featuring anthems of a generation. Are You Experienced has remained one of the most popular rock albums of all time, featuring tracks like "Purple Haze," "The Wind Cries Mary," "Foxey Lady," "Fire," and "Are You Experienced?"
In June 1967, Hendrix set off a bomb when he erupted the crowd at the Monterey International Pop Festival with arguably his most famous performance.
It was in Monterey where Jimmy Hendrix literally set his guitar on fire with lighter fluid and sacrificed his guitar in front of thousands on stage. The moment Hendrix created is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest Rock & Roll moment in music history. He performed "Wild Thing,” and once word got out of how this man rocked and shocked the crowd there was no limit to his popular appeal.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience became one of most popular and highest grossing touring acts in the world.
Hendrix followed Are You Experienced with Axis: Bold As Love.
By 1968, Hendrix had taken greater control over the direction of his music. He was noted for a historic tour with The Monkey’s which introduced Hendrix to a commercial U.S. audience. He went on that year to sale over 1 million records in America.
Many would say this was this pinnacle of his career because at this point, his fame stretched clear around the world. There was no place he couldn’t tour around the globe. Everyone wanted a piece of Jimi Hendrix and with the extensive work schedule he kept up with, he was everywhere he needed to be and then some. Only so many artists in music history get to be known on several continents by their first name. He was known as “Jimi.” This is why he is one of the more popular artists in music history because this all took place in just four short years.
The Descent of a Rock Legend
Playing the legendary Woodstock festival in August 1969, Hendrix was the headliner and he joined forces with Gypsy Sun & Rainbows (Band of the Gypsys) featuring Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez.
The Woodstock performance was highlighted by the renegade version of "Star Spangled Banner," which brought the mud-soaked Woodstock audience to frenzy. Hendrix was delayed 6 hours before he performed that final day at Woodstock but his performance is still considered the highlight of the entire event. Close to half of the audience was absent during his set but it didn’t matter because he still gave the best performance during Woodstock.
With drugs and touring taking its toll on Hendrix lifestyle, his most demanding project was a two LP collection, Electric Ladyland named after his studio in New York.
Living spiritually and searching for answers musically was what Jimi was about and in 1969 was he continued his evolution bringing a new and defining collaboration featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar, bassist Billy Cox and Electric Flag drummer Buddy Miles. This trio launched a series of four New Year's performances on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970. Highlights from these performances were compiled and later released on the quintessential Band of Gypsys album in mid-1970 and the expanded Hendrix: Live At The Fillmore East in 1999.
As 1970 progressed, Jimi brought back drummer Mitch Mitchell to the group and together with Billy Cox on bass, this new trio once again formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In the studio, the group recorded several tracks for another two LP set, tentatively titled First Rays Of The New Rising Sun.
Unfortunately, Hendrix was unable to see this musical vision through to completion due to his hectic worldwide touring schedules, then tragic death on September 18, 1970. Hendrix was just 27 years old when he passed away.
There are many rumors surrounding his death because the woman who was allegedly there with Hendrix the night he overdosed, committed suicide weeks later leaving skeptics with many unanswered scenarios.
Fortunately, the recordings Hendrix slated for release on the album were finally issued through the support of his family and original studio engineer Eddie Kramer on the 1997 release First Rays Of The New Rising Sun.
Jimi Hendrix is a musical legend who helped transform rock music and blend genres together like no one has ever done before. There will never be another Jimi. In just four years on the music scene he became one of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen.
For more information visit: www.jimihendrix.com
By DERRIK J. LANG | Associated Press
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) — Guided by a thumping bass line from their backing band, the Jackson brothers strut forward to a row of four microphones, thrusting their pelvises along the way, before launching into “Can’t Let Her Get Away,” a song their superstar sibling released on his “Dangerous” album.
If they had afros and matching powder blue suits, it might feel like 1977 again.
It doesn’t. They’re casually sporting sunglasses, workout gear and a few more pounds than when they, along with the future King of Pop, were simply known as the Jackson 5. (Also, “Can’t Let Her Get Away” was released in 1991 after the group fizzled out.)
Nearly three years since Michael died while preparing for his comeback tour, four of his brothers — Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie — are set for their own return to the stage as The Jacksons. It hasn’t been easy.
“The brothers don’t know this, but I've broken down several times and cried during rehearsals,” said Jermaine during a recent rehearsal break on a soundstage in Burbank, Calif. “I’m so used to Michael being on the right and then Marlon, Jackie, on and on. It’s just something we never get used to.”
The brothers are launching their “Unity” tour on Wednesday, five days ahead of the third anniversary of Michael’s death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009.
“For me, this cycle that comes around every year — this day, that day — that doesn’t affect me because it affects me every day,” said Marlon. “When that day comes around, it’s the same. You learn to live with it. I still wake up sometimes and go, ‘Jeez. I can’t believe my brother’s not here.’ ”
Following Michael[s death, the four brothers appeared in the A&E reality series “The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty,” which chronicled their loss and attempt to stage a comeback before their brother died.
Jermaine said the brothers have wanted to reunite on their own for years, but after Michael’s passing, they needed time to heal — and the tour is another step in that process. They’ve rearranged their classics to suit their voices, and Jermaine said the group plans to pay tribute to Michael during their shows with a slideshow and medley that will conclude with the tune “Gone Too Soon.”
“There’s certain songs that make you feel the sorrow,” said Tito. “Then again, there are other songs that bring so much joy and happiness, such as ‘ABC’ and ‘I Want You Back’ and the up-tempo stuff like ‘This Place Hotel.’ I just imagine how he used to walk and spin and do all these things. You can feel his presence here.”
The Jacksons’ tour kicks off at Rama Casino in Ontario, Canada, and is scheduled to end July 29 at the Snoqualmie Casino Amphitheater in Snoqualmie, Wash. Other stops include Detroit’s Fox Theatre, Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre and Harlem’s sold-out Apollo Theatre, where the Jackson 5 won an amateur night in 1969 before rocketing to fame.
Michael later forged unprecedented success as a solo artist. His superstardom was unrivaled, and his brothers couldn't capture similar acclaim or sales with their solo projects or last studio album, 1989's mostly Michael-less “2300 Jackson Street,” but their legacy as a group has remained unchanged. The Jackson 5 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
While various combinations of the brothers have reunited to perform over the years, including at last year’s “Michael Forever” tribute concert in Wales, “Unity” will mark the first time the brothers have toured together since their final “Victory” outing in 1984. (Marlon said Randy, who officially joined The Jacksons in 1975, elected not to join the tour but noted that the youngest Jackson brother was welcome at any time.)
“We have a certain magic,” said Jackie. “Once we get out here and run it down a couple times, it comes back to you. I’m not (moving) like I used to, but we still got it.”
Will the fans think so — and will they turn out to see The Jacksons, whose ages now range from 55 to 61, perform their hits without Michael?
Last year, Cirque du Soleil launched “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour” in Las Vegas. The show featuring dancers and acrobatic acts performing routines set to M.J. tunes has been among the top touring acts this year, and “Immortal” will return to Vegas for a residency at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.
However, Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert industry trade publication Pollstar, doesn’t believe The Jacksons will achieve similar success with their smaller endeavor.
“The Jacksons were really all about Michael,” said Bongiovanni. “The Cirque du Soleil show was successful because it was Cirque du Soleil and Michael’s music. I don’t know if that portends much for the remaining brothers and their ability to generate enthusiasm for ticket sales.”
The brothers are undaunted, hoping to release an album of new music then go back out on tour.
“It’s like riding a bike,” said Marlon. “You never forget, but you do need to tweak a few things.”
By MESFIN FEKADU |
NEW YORK (AP) — Whitney Houston’s mother will perform a tribute to her late daughter alongside other female singers at the upcoming BET Awards.
Houston will perform a tribute to her late daughter Whitney at the upcoming BET Awards on July 1, which will air live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Cissy will be joined by “a few top divas,” the source said, though the source could not give their names.
The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the tribute has not been officially announced.
Whitney Houston died at age 48 in February. Authorities called her death an accidental drowning, complicated by heart disease and cocaine use.
The BET Awards airs live from The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Kanye West, Beyonce and Jay-Z are the top nominees.
NEW YORK (AP) — Arsenio Hall is returning to TV’s late-night scene, where he flourished with a talk show two decades ago.
CBS Television Distribution says it is developing a syndicated nightly talk show with the 57-year-old actor and comedian. The company said Monday that the show is set to premiere in fall 2013.
Hall is best known for hosting the Emmy Award-winning “Arsenio Hall Show,” which ran from 1989 to 1994. That show’s place in pop-culture history was clinched in 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton appeared and played “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone.
Hall was featured in the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming to America” and was a regular on the CBS series "Martial Law" in the late 1990s.
Recently, he won the latest edition of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
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