June 14, 2012

By Brandon I. Brooks

Co-Managing Editor


Cedric “The Entertainer” is coming back to television with his own new original series, “The Soul Man.”


Starring alongside Cedric will be the very funny and charismatic Niecy Nash.


Both Cedric “The Entertainer” and Niecy Nash caught up with the Sentinel and Watts Times for an intimate interview on the set of their new series, at the CBS Studios in Universal City, California. 


 Video: Cedric "The Entertainer" and Niecey Nash - "The Soul Man" Interview


LAWT: Tell me about the new sitcom and what attracted you both to the series?


Cedric “The Entertainer” (CTE): The show is called “The Soul Man.”  It’s a show I created, produced and starring in.  In the show I play Boyce Ballentine or Reverend Boyce Ballentine, an ex-R&B superstar who gets the calling late in life and moves my family, my wife, and my daughter away from Las Vegas back St. Louis and become the minister of my dad’s church. It’s just basically a story of transition, how you go from one lifestyle or one life to another. 


Niecy Nash (NN): I play Lolli Ballentine and I loved the life my husband Boyce had when he was an R&B singer, I loved the shiny lifestyle, Vegas the Bellagio.  Not crazy about coming back to St. Louis but supportive of my husband and there I am.  And it’s so funny because this particular story mirrors a life I use to live with my ex-husband who was an R&B singer, who got called into the ministry.  So I have been a first lady before.  It wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now.


LAWT: When did each of you know this project was right for you?


CTE: I developed it and wrote the script with Susan Martin from “Hot in Cleveland.” So really when developing the world out, I knew we would have a lot of fun.  When looking for a TV wife Niecy’s name came up.  We had worked together before on a movie I had done called, “Code Name: The Cleaner.” But it was also the idea was really fresh too me.  You knew her talent from “Reno 911” as well as her reality shows but I just thought it was going to be really unique. So we met for lunch and she told me this story about her real life and I couldn’t believe it.  She thought I was making it up, I thought she was making it up; I’m like wait a minute? It just ended up being a perfect match.  It’s been dynamic and I’m really thankful and blessed that she was available and wanted to play along and we have been having a great time.    


NN: I have never been a TV wife before. Been a lot of things, concubine, girl on the side, you know freak of the weak, but no now I am official.  I am a TV wife and I have to say Cedric creates an environment where the set in so much fun.  You know and I said if I knew it was going to be this much fun being a wife I would have been a TV wife a long time ago.  But I didn’t know. 


LAWT: We have not seen a show like this, and when I say a show like this, this type of theme (family theme) for African Americans in a while.  There have been similar attempts for instance with Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids), but it’s refreshing to see a family oriented show for not just Black families but all families on television.  Was that your goal when you approached this project?


CTE:  Definitely, for me I try to build a brand that is inclusive with my comedy and one that allows everybody to come and watch the show. Being a family man myself you know raising kids’ living that particular lifestyle I thought the image was something that could be really refreshing.  The story line of being able to kind of show the generational things like having a grandfather involved on the show in a regular basis and that kind of relationship of the extended family with the younger brother who is a little different in age group.  Like all of these things were things that I thought would be interesting story points of view to tell about our community and so for me, that was something I definitely wanted to run at and again probably not since Cosby in a real way have you seen something that resembled fun loving family that is having a good time but also has challenges and struggles or whatever they have to deal with.  So that’s the world I thought would be really fun. 


NN: I was excited to show Black love on TV.  You know because a lot of time with the programming we have now, even if it has wife in the title, the girls aren’t wives.  If there is a man involved it’s a lot of yelling and arguing. And even in a traditional sit-com, you know usually the husband and wife are each other’s foil.  It’s like that’s who you get your cheap shots in with but I love the idea that we just love each other.   You get to see a couple that loves each other not that there perfect but they are perfect for one another and they are trying to be better so that is what I am happy about bringing.


LAWT: Even though the show is based in a church atmosphere the series still incorporates many different real – world problems. Niecy, tell me a little bit more about your character and what you are trying to bring because we are seeing you in a new light?


NN:  Even though it’s a new light in TV, it’s an old light for me.  I’m on my second marriage; I got it down pact now.  I have an ex-husband, a new husband and a TV husband.  I got more husbands than I could shake a stick at.  And now I understand what being a wife is.  So playing a wife on television now is really another extension of who I am.  I have my own children, my own family so to be able to bring that motherly love.  But the truth of the matter is who we are outside of our character’s they blend together a little bit.  So there is a bit of extra mothering.  We are able to move around and bring so many real elements and nuances to what we do because it’s not far from our truths in a sense. 


LAWT: What advice do you have for up and coming actors and actresses or anyone looking to make it in the business?


NN: To the new generation that’s coming, they move around, a lot of them, like there is a sense of entitlement.  You know doing what you doing hook me up! And you know, I am scared of the hook up because if you don’t have someone to help you will you really know how to hustle.  The other thing is I don’t think you need anybody else to believe in your dream.  And that is why they call it self-esteem.  When you believe, that is enough to carry you to the next point in it all.


CTE: I definitely try to tell people to love what you do first and don’t worry about blowing up.  Most of the time it’s kind of to that same point, what you hear is people really want to have that star experience right away.  “I did a play last week man, put me in a movie I’m ready to go, I did it I rocked it.”  The thing is that you got to be able to know the different rungs on the ladder so if ever you go up and you have to come down, you don’t have to fall down to the bottom.  You can fall for or five steps get yourself together and then climb back up.  So you know its okay to do the journey.  The journey is going to be far more valuable than the rocketing to the top.


LAWT: Why should people tune in and watch “The Soul Man?”


CTE: You got to watch “The Soul Man,” Wednesday’s on TV Land, it’s funny, I’m on it, Niecy’s on it, and then I said so…Its s great show of family values, the struggle of changing your life, going from one life to another, growing up getting smarter, getting wiser and then having people recognize that and is it okay to be known for one thing and mature to something else.  Watch it for that reason. 


NN: I would tell everyone to watch “The Soul Man” because I think that this is a show that could be appointment TV.  Where everyone in your family can find some character in here they relate to, something funny that they identify with.  I definitely think you will either see yourself or someone in this family and you can watch it with your entire family.


LAWT: What else do you guys have going on outside of television, anything we should be on the lookout for?


CTE: I’m still touring.  I’m scheduling a show in the Los Angeles area for August.  But usually I’m on out on the road on the east coast.  But creating producing other shows, I got a very cool movie called coming out called “Grass Roots,” it’s a little more of a dramatic role for me.  I play a Seattle politician in this film.


NN: There is a lot going on.  God has been very kind so I have my hands in a bit of everything.  I just launched an accessories line on the Home Shopping Network.  I have a book coming out.  Producing, creating and developing a lot of things.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 07, 2012

By Brian W. Carter,

Sentinel Staff Writer


Marlton Square — the story is a long and twisting tale going all the way back to a time when it didn’t exist. As former Congresswoman Diane Watson mentioned at the Marlton Square Conference on Thurs., May 31, this area wasn’t even as diversified as it is now. The 20-acre site is now in the process of sprouting new wings and taking flight after its long and arduous journey.


Starting in the early ‘80s, the one-time Santa Barbara Plaza had begun its early trek into dilapidation. At the time, then Mayor Tom Bradley had started the ball rolling with a call for renovations of the area. The ball would slow down over time and roll into the hands of former Lakers and present businessman/entrepreneur, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, in the mid 90’s. Johnson would miss the shot in ’02 with the development group Capital Vision Equities (CVE).


The development group would eventually lose the vision to bring Marlton Square back to fruition when they defaulted on the project in 2004. Further complications ensued when CVE went bankrupt in 2006. In December 2010, the dust began to clear and one owner was left standing: Commercial Mortgage Managers (CMM).


Together with Councilmember Bernard Parks and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), CMM is moving forward with the awaited redevelopment. The official demolition process began in late summer of 2011.


Last Thursday, CMM, CRA/LA and Parks announced a new tenant to Marlton Square — Kaiser Permanente as they welcomed them on the proposed site.  Kaiser has closed escrow on 8.65 acres of land at 4033-4081 Marlton Avenue with the intention of opening an outpatient medical office building.


“This is the real deal,” said Parks.” This is going to happen.”


Parks continued, “We are so pleased to be here today and to bring to this community what [it] deserves.”


Parks took a moment to acknowledge all the labor, patience, love and time it took to give Marlton Square its wings. There were remarks given by Watson; Richard Benbow, general manager CDD; Commissioner Valerie Shaw; David Rentz, CMM; and other guests, staff members and community members.


“This has been a journey since 2003 for us,” said Parks on behalf of his staff and himself. From scrambling with developers, going through default and bankruptcy, Parks spoke about how their hands were tied when it came to moving forward in the past with Marlton Square’s redevelopment — but that’s not the case anymore.


“When we talked to Kaiser, they said the reason this site was so important for them is because — it’s in the heart of their membership pool and it’s also in the heart of [a] community, which needs medical insurance,” said Parks.


Many thanks went to Parks, his staff members, the late Tom Bradley who started the project of redeveloping Marlton Square, regional administrator of the CRA/LA, Carolyn Hull and CEO, Chris Essel, and CB Richard Ellis real estate broker, Jamie Brooks, who was pivotal in securing Kaiser as a tenant.


“The Kaiser development is going to be the linchpin and the anchor that draws a phenomenal development that’s going to stimulate economic growth in this area that is well deserved,” said Brooks. “We’re humbled and excited to be apart of the project.”


“This is a great day for all of us,” said Hull. “Because this is the one project I really needed to get done.”


Marlton Square has taken flight and is in the air!

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 07, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michelle Obama took a turn on David Letterman’s “Late Show” on Tuesday to give us a few Top 10 “fun facts” about gardening.

A sampling, according to a CBS preview of the program:

“No. 7: In his lifetime, the average American will eat half a radish.”

“No. 6: The largest zucchini ever grown contained a Starbucks.”

“No. 5: Later this year the Supreme Court will finally rule on ‘tomato’ vs. ‘tomahto.’ ”

The network said Mrs. Obama’s list was related to her new book, “American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America.”

The first lady last appeared on the Letterman show in March. She has been making the rounds of other talk shows in recent weeks to promote her book.

Mrs. Obama’s turn in the spotlight comes as President Barack Obama’s campaign seeks to use his wife’s popularity to help him get re-elected.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 07, 2012


Actor, director Mykelti Williamson is internationally known for his critically acclaimed role of “Bubba” in the Oscar-winning movie “Forrest Gump” as well as other high-profile movies like “Heat,” “Con Air,” “Lucky Number Slevin,” “August Rush” and ATL. He’s also been on hard-hitting television roles in “Boomtown,” “24” and “CSI:NY.” He’s currently in the role of Limehouse in the hit FX television series “Justified.”


Whether it’s feature films, television or Broadway (where Williamson recently teamed up with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis for the multiple Tony award-winning revival of August Wilson’s “Fences”), all agree the versatile actor's passion and credibility is undeniable. 


And now, the multitalented actor is putting the spotlight on another passion: Bubba Style Season­ings. William­son’s hand-blended spices and his cooking have long been an insider secret,” enjoyed on movie sets and private backyard barbecues with those close to the actor — until now.  Always the perfectionist, Williamson wanted to bring the finest cooking spices he could to the market. 


See what everyone’s talking about.  The all-natural, gluten-free, no fillers, no additives, no-nut seasonings are now available.  With the launch of BubbaStyle.net, you too can spice up your food, Bubba-style.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

 June 07, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — Herb Reed, the last surviving original member of 1950s vocal group the Platters who sang on hits like “Only You” and “The Great Pretender,” has died. He was 83.


Reed died on Monday in a Boston area hospice after a period of declining health that included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, manager Fred Balboni said.


Reed was a Kansas City, Mo., native who founded the Platters in Los Angeles in 1953. Then a quartet, the group won amateur talent shows, and performed nights and weekends up and down the California coast while the members worked days at a car wash and at other odd jobs.


Reed came up with the group’s name, inspired by ’50s disc jockeys who called their records “platters.”


The group underwent several lineup changes, even adding a woman singer to become a quintet, before signing their first major recording contract in 1955.


Reed sang bass on the group’s four No. 1 hits, including “The Great Pretender,” “My Prayer,” “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”


The Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. Their recordings are in the Grammy Hall of Fame.


The group’s popularity reached across racial lines and genres, “achieving success in a crooning, middle-of-the-road style that put a soulful coat of uptown polish on pop-oriented, harmony-rich material,” according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website.


Reed credited his survival in the music industry to the poverty he experienced as a child in Kansas City. While other members of the group spent frivolously, he used his first big royalty check to buy a house.


“I never thought that it would keep going, and I never wanted to assume we’d keep getting checks,” he said earlier this year.


Reed also waged long legal battles with other artists who performed and recorded under the name the Platters. He finally won a court decision in Nevada last year giving him rights to the name. He called the court victory every bit as big as the gold and platinum records he had earned, Balboni said.


Reed had homes in Atlanta and Miami but had called the Boston area home since the 1970s “because the people were always so nice to me,” he told a biographer. He had most recently living in Arlington.


Reed was the only member of the group to appear on all of their nearly 400 recordings. He continued touring, performing up to 200 shows per year, until last year, often performing with younger singers under the name Herb Reed and the Platters or Herb Reed's Platters.


Reed is survived by a son and three grandsons.


Funeral arrangements are pending.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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