May 31, 2012

By Jo-Carolyn Goode Special to the NNPA from the Houston Style Magazine

The usual outspoken, controversial comedian Wanda Sykes has been a lot quieter. She has been not so opinionated on the issues and not so vocal in the public eye. What gives? Her twin daughters. Sykes is becoming a family woman, happily spending her time catching up on the happenings on Sesame Street versus being glue to contributors on CNN. “I use to be really political and knew everything that was going on with the world. Well that has all changed now that I have kids, “ laughs Sykes. It is enough to make her just stop and laugh at life.

Talking about her children makes Sykes smile and be in awe at the same time. Its ridiculous how much my life has changed now that I have kids,” said Sykes, who admits now she almost needs permission to use her own house because the kids have taken over. “I am enjoying life. I am happy and all,” said Sykes. “But it is hard.” Speaking about what she calls the secret society of parenting, Sykes said other parents don’t tell everything there is to know about parenting. “It is hard but its good.” It is good enough that she can keep laughing at it.

Another thing that Sykes had to learn to laugh at was breast cancer. In early 2011, when Sykes went in to have breast reduction surgery, the cancer was discovered. She had a very serious form of cancer known as Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. Sykes made a very difficult decision by having a double mastectomy. A decision she does not regret. According to Sykes it was either taking the chance that the breast cancer might come back again, which was likely since she had a family history of it, or remove the occurrence of breast cancer altogether. She chose the later for her family. She wanted to be around to watch her girls grow up. Today after the turmoil of the healing process, Sykes is able to find the humor in cancer and has a bit about it in her current comedy tour.

Never one to be idle, Sykes is preparing for the release of Ice Age: Continental Drift this summer. She is the voice of Granny, Sid’s grandmother who really can’t see or hear. Sykes says, “ I think Granny has selective hearing.” Granny goes along for the ride with Manny and the gang unbeknown to them as she is accidently stowed away. The guys’ misfortune makes for a hilariously funny time for movie watchers. The film opens this summer on July 13.

After every film wrap up or television show tapping Sykes says she finds herself running back to the stage. “That where it all started for me and where everything makes sense.” The power to make people laugh is gift that Sykes is grateful to have. “Its wonderful to look out and see people double over in laugher with tears. There’s no feeling like it,” expressed Sykes. It is that feeling that lets her know stand up comedy is what she is suppose to do.

It is a given that comedy is truly Sykes’ calling. Look for her somewhere in America with her comedy tour that she is currently on the road with. Then head to the box office to catch her in Ice Age: Continental Drift this summer. Finally, see her in the soon to be out independent film “The Hot Flashes.” Keep up with Wanda Sykes at

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012

Special to the NNPA from the New York Carib News

Hal Jackson, African-American trailblazer in the world of radio broadcast, has died from at the age of 96.

Born on November 3, 1915, Jackson grew up in Washington, D.C., and studied at Howard University in Washington. He first broke onto the airwaves by broadcasting Howard’s home baseball games and local American Negro Baseball League games on WOOK in Washington, becoming the first African-American radio sports announcer.

Adding to his impressive lists of famous firsts, Jackson became the first African-American host at WINX in Washington, hosting the nightly interview program The Bronze Review in 1939. He eventually moved on to hosting the jazz and blues program, The House That Jack Built, on WOOK. By the 1940s, Jackson was hosting four different daily programs for four different Washington-area radio stations.

In 1971 Jackson co-founded the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation (ICBC), which acquired WLIB-AM, the first African-American owned and operated station in New York. His trailblazing streak was honored in 1995 when he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, the first African-American to hold the honor. In the final years of his life, he served on the Board of Directors at Inner City Broadcasting and hosted the musical program Sunday Classics.

Additionally, Jackson was celebrated for his charitable works. For 39 years he served as executive producer and host of his Talented Teens International competition, which highlights “the intelligence, creativity and talents of young minority women. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — President Barack Obama heads to Broadway next month as part of a double bill with former President Bill Clinton — and the stars will be out to welcome them.

James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Nina Arianda, Kerry Butler, Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Cannavale, Stockard Channing, Megan Hilty and Cheyenne Jackson are some of the performers slated to attend the June 4 fundraiser.

"Barack on Broadway" is one of two events that day that will join Obama and Clinton. The two presidents will also attend a dinner featuring a performance by Jon Bon Jovi.

The fund-raiser will be at the New Amsterdam Theatre, the home of "Mary Poppins" and will be directed by George C. Wolfe.

General admission is $250, with VIP tickets for $1,000.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012


Associated Press


CAP D’ANTIBES, France (AP) — Janet Jackson may have joined the ranks of diet plan celebrity spokeswomen Jennifer Hudson and Mariah Carey, but she insists there’s absolutely no competition among the slimmed-down singers.

The 46-year-old became a spokesperson for NutriSystem in December and credits the diet company for helping her lose weight, though she’s keeping quiet about the exact number she’s lost.

“You know I think it’s great that all the girls, or as many as possible, can stand up and try to help as many people as possible. That’s really what it’s about. It’s not about competing with each other, not for me,” said Jackson in a plunging neckline Pucci gown at amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS gala Thursday in Cap D’Antibes, France.

“I took off all that extra stuff I really didn’t need and I feel really good,” she said.

Carrey became the spokesperson for Jenny Craig after dropping 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) with their plan and a toned Hudson is seen singing the praises of Weightwatchers in the company’s commercials.

But it wasn’t all glitz and glam for Jackson, who traveled the south of France to co-share the annual amfAR charity event. The recent loss of industry legends Donna Summer and Robin Gibb still weighed heavily on her mind.

“They’ve brought so much joy to this world,” said Jackson on the red carpet. “I remember being 11-years-old, going to New York and I was visiting Mike (Jackson), he was working on ‘The Wiz’ and I was on hiatus from shooting the show ‘Good Times’ and we would always listen to ‘How Deep is your Love’, that was the song of my trip, he and I. So it was such incredible memories of them.”

Gibb, a founding member of the Bee Gees, died May 20 following a battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. Disco icon Summer died May 17 of lung cancer.

Right now Jackson is busy working on new music, which she says is still in the “beginning stages.”

“Everything I’ve done, it’s always been different here or there, from one album to the next, a mixture of stuff. So we’ll see,” she said.


Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

May 31, 2012

By JON GAMBRELL | Associated Press

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The deep, croaking-frog rhythm of the talking drums sound out across the stage as canoeists in animal hide row a condemned servant and royal infant into the unknown. The unified voice of a choir rises above the beats, singing in the Yoruba language of Nigeria's southwest at the start of a play that begins in its middle.

This isn't the William Shakespeare you know.

Instead, this is an African reboot of "The Winter's Tale," one of the lesser known tragicomedies written by the Bard about a child princess cast away out of jealous rage and later reunited with her royal family. A theater company in Nigeria is performing their version of the play, called "Itan Oginintin," at Shakespeare's Globe in London for a festival showing 38 Shakespeare plays in different world languages as part of the London Cultural Olympiad.

For the Lagos-based performers in the Renegade Theatre company, the chance to perform allows them to represent a country whose rich history in the arts has faded under corrupt governments.

"Some time between the '80s and the '90s, I think a bridge collapsed," said Wole Oguntokun, who leads Renegade Theatre. "And now we are all looking for a way across that bridge."

Nigeria remains home to Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, the aging playwright who Oguntokun used as a muse for a play he wrote about the essayist's tangles with the military rulers who once governed Africa's most populous nation. But while the military built the country's National Theatre in Lagos, a massive building in the shape of an officer's cap, it now sits largely unused and in poor condition.

Most Nigerians' experience with acting are from over-the-top performances on television soap operas and Nollywood movies. Slowly, however, Oguntokun and others have staged performances.

The production of "The Winter's Tale," Oguntokun hopes, will bring new focus on the value of stage acting in Nigeria through its two performances at Shakespeare's Globe, a replica theater built in London to model the one where the Bard's plays once were staged. The theater will stage 38 of Shakespeare's plays in various languages as part of a festival leading up to the Summer Olympics in London.

While Swahili and the languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe will be featured, Yoruba represents the only West African language to be a part of the festival. But it is a formal style of Yoruba that goes unheard in Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, where its words get mixed into English and pidgin.

Some actors who tried out for the play couldn't handle the archaic bits of the language thrown into the play, Oguntokun said. Those who made the cut found their own ways to handle it.

"I used to read the Yoruba Bible when I was small when I went to church, so I went back to the Yoruba Bible and started reading over and over again," actor Rotimi Fakunle said. "It was easier for me to switch."

The Nigerian performance also includes significant changes from the original text, as the royalty imagined by Shakespeare become the volatile Yoruba gods Ogun and Sango. The character Time, who keeps track of the plot for the audience in the original text, has been replaced by a traditional singer.

Oguntokun wants this type of traditional African storytelling to grow stronger in coming years, and gain even more international attention.

"We will tell our stories and not have our stories told to us all of the time," Oguntokun said hopefully. 

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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