July 03, 2014

The Associated Press

 

Taye Diggs can claim an actor’s version of scoring a hat trick: He’s worked with a trio of television’s most innovative writer-producers.

 

Diggs, who visited David E. Kelley’s “Ally McBeal” as attorney Jackson Duper and played Dr. Sam Bennett on Shonda Rhimes' “Private Practice,” is starring in a new drama, “Murder in the First,” co-created by veteran Steven Bochco.

 

“There’s something to be said for putting out in the universe that which you want to claim. It’s happened to me three times,” he said.

 

In the latest instance, he was eager to be part of a project “where it's about relationships and not just catching crooks and jumping over buses and whatnot,” said Diggs, who’s casual and candid in a phone interview.

 

“Murder in the First,” despite the procedural-sounding title, turned out to be just such an opportunity. It debuts at 10 p.m. EDT Monday on TNT.

 

Diggs’ character is San Fran­cisco police homicide Detective Terry English, who’s paired with fellow detective Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson). The officers are admirably dedicated but have more to their lives than work.

 

Terry’s burden is a tragic one, the terminal illness of his wife (Anne-Marie Johnson). Hildy is a single mom who, at least in episode one, appears to have a limited network of support to raise her bright daughter.

 

The series crisscrosses between the detectives’ off-duty lives and their efforts to crack two killings with a high-profile link, a Silicon Valley whiz kid who takes arrogance to a new level. He’s played by Tom Felton, of Draco Malfoy fame from the “Harry Potter” film franchise.

 

Richard Schiff, Nicole Ari Parker, James Cromwell and Steven Weber are among the co-stars.

 

“Murder in the First,” created by Bochco and Eric Lodal, will wrap its investigation within the 10-episode season. If viewers are hooked, the drama will be back with another case to solve.

 

Bochco took a similar approach with his 1990s series “Murder One,” which focused in its freshman year on a single crime. The ABC series was critically lauded but was ahead of its time, and its low ratings prompted a switch to a multiple-murder story line for its second and final season.

 

In the new TNT drama, the case focus is narrow but the approach is ambitiously multilayered, said Bochco, whose groundbreaking series include “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue.”

 

“Murder in the First” is a “cop show, it’s a legal drama, and then it’s a courtroom drama. And so what we've tried to do is to pretty much encompass the whole of the criminal justice system,” he said.

 

Diggs, for one, was quickly sold on the concept of “Murder in the First” and agreed to temporarily pull up stakes from New York City.

 

“Bochco and Lodal were so excited about it they got me excited. I was not excited about the fact it was shot in Los Angeles,” Diggs, 43, said, with exteriors taped in San Francisco. “But hearing their ideas and the future of the character, Terry, I couldn’t help but get drawn in.”

 

He's back in New York for the summer, spending time with his son (with “Frozen” star Idina Menzel; the couple separated in 2013) and weighing how to get back to his stage roots. Although his resume includes “Rent” and other Broadway productions, he’s toying with the idea of something other than a musical.

 

“I want to get together a group of other concert singer-actors and see if we can put together a kind of Rat Pack-ish crew,” he said. “Something that harkens back to Sinatra and his friends.”

 

Would Diggs be Frank, the main man? No, he replied. He has a more modern, inclusive approach in mind.

 

“It would be a new take, where we’re all a mixture of everybody,” Diggs said.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 26, 2014

By Amen Oyiboke

LAWT Contributing Writer

 

Dreams Are Colder Than Death explores the concept of being Black through the perceptions of the African-American community. 

 

Showcased at the LA Film Festival director Arthur Jafa created the documentary to open up discussion about the current state of mind in Black society. Throughout the documentary multiple people weighed in on black sensitivity and purpose. This subject alone is something that quite often circulates in my mind.

 

I’ve always wondered what the meaning of being African-American in a White ran society actually meant. At times, I would question myself, “What does it mean to be Black in America?”

 

Jafa attempts to answer questions like mine by using voices of professors Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Magic City exotic dancer Portia Jordan, poet Fred Moten and countless other intuitive people. The documentary evaluates the state of societal mindsets for African-Americans, especially during a time where we have a Black president and Black advancement in multiple areas; but we still see major racial disparities in wealth, mentalities and in the prison system greatly.

 

This film opens up the conversations that many people tend to shy away from because society believes we live in a post-racial time. In our society, the concept of blackness seems to be unacceptable. Acting “Black” or associating yourself with what people think Black culture is and suppose to be usually leaves outsiders judging the value of our race. The symbols and generalizations that come with being Black devalue, hinder, and criminalize the whole group. One of the strongest points stated in the film said, “We have to find the symbols that coincide with blackness and stop them.” Everyday African-American people mentally store and put to use these same symbols related to the persona of being black.

 

Throughout the film, the subjects of the documentary were never filmed in on-camera interviews. Jafa opted to an audio-image route that left an artistic frame for the entirety of the film. The documentary was a rolling display of b-roll footage capturing the everyday life and eye-opening pictures of culture and Black history.

 

Jafa did a great job with capturing in depth interviews and intense close-ups of deep contours of black skin, lips, eyes, and hair; but I still found myself in a puddle of confusion. The complexity of the film is not for the faint hearted. To truly process the depth of this film it must be watched more than once. The heavy use of symbols of the universe and how they coincide with black culture left me thinking about what those symbols actually meant.

 

After the screening, Jafa had a panel discussion about his views on “abnormativity” and how some African-American function under a “White-gaze.” “Black people function under a white gaze when it comes to survival modalities’. We have to recognize that we’re functioning under what we think is right for a white mentality and separate ourselves from the view and evaluate our own outlook.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 26, 2014  

Aries March 21 – April 19

 

Strengthen relationship ties and pursue partnership interests through understanding and listening. Though you're willing to discuss key matters, midweek may be a test of your patience. You might feel you've reached a point of no return regarding a certain person. However, a chance to clear the air and come to grips with the central issue could make it easier to cooperate on a range of matters. Start home-based DIY projects on Friday to coincide with the New Moon..

 

 

 

Taurus April 20 – May 20

 

A change in your financial situation could see you pondering some fresh ideas. As Mercury continues its retrograde phase, you might want to rethink your budget or figure out the best way to save money without cutting back too much. The New Moon in Cancer on Friday may be very helpful for you, encouraging you to make a fresh start in any area you choose. Take it easy over the weekend, as someone with a hidden agenda may seem overly friendly.

 

 

 

Gemini May 21 – June 21

 

Have a good plan in place, because some parts of this week could cause you to feel somewhat unsettled. Perhaps a friendship is a cause for concern, or a love interest seems to prefer to be alone rather than with you. Short trips bring pleasure, as does participation in group activities. Sweet words of love can make a relationship come alive. However, you will need to trust your intuition and let your desires take you where they will.

 

 

 

Cancer June 22 – July 22

 

Major plans could encounter challenges before they get underway, as conflict between family and career could cause trouble. However, Venus in your spiritual sector enhances your relationship with yourself, so you may find the courage to stand firm. The New Moon in Cancer is the best time to come to grips with a plan that could be a game changer. There are romantic opportunities this weekend, but don't take someone's word as gospel. If your creative side has an opportunity to shine, go for it!

 

 

 

Leo July 23 – August 22

 

This might not be the best time to ask favors, as others may seem indifferent. An edgy link midweek suggests that certain folks may need space, and they could have a desire to do their own thing. Yet, when it comes to romance, you'll be at your flirtatious best. Whether you're in a long-term relationship or looking for love, social events can add sparkle to the days ahead. The New Moon on Friday is perfect for starting a new spiritual practice, such as meditation or yoga.

 

 

 

Virgo August 23 – September 22

 

Career matters benefit from more interaction with key people. Perhaps an informal meeting could help you make the right impression. Take it easy midweek, particularly if you feel stressed. A conscious effort to slow down could make it easier to focus. However, if you're living on your nerves it might help to book a massage or spa treatment as a way to soothe ruffled feathers. Friday brings a chance of new beginnings in a social setting. Perhaps it's time to move in new circles?

 

 

 

Libra September 23 – October 22

 

You may need all the patience you can muster, especially early in the week. Certain folks could let you down and be disruptive. Yet being pushed out of your comfort zone in this way might encourage you to give as good as you get. Perhaps it's time to stand up to someone who's been doing this for too long. A New Moon in your career sector on Friday brings an opportunity for a fresh start, whether it's a new job, contract, or idea for a business.

 

 

 

Scorpio October 23 – November 21

 

Anxious feelings could leave you needing to retreat. Perhaps it's time to relax and work on stress-busting techniques, especially on Wednesday. Far horizons call with a focus on travel, learning, and expanding your options. This week brings a special opportunity to move outside your comfort zone. In particular, the New Moon brings a two-week window of opportunity in which to make a fresh start. Be careful in romance this weekend. All that glitters may not be gold.

 

 

 

Sagittarius November 22 – December 21

 

Certain friendly ties could be more of a burden than usual, particularly if they're argumentative. Be the best friend you can be, but don't expect the same treatment in return. However, the same folks could revert to their usual open and supportive selves in few days. Think about making a fresh start with shared finances. Friday's New Moon brings opportunities to consolidate debt and make radical changes where necessary. Keep receipts if buying big-ticket items this weekend.

 

 

 

Capricorn December 22 – January 19

 

Luck is in the air as Venus moves into Gemini this week. This is when you can grab the brass ring, though you might need to make an effort to avail yourself of an opportunity. A combination of good common sense and inventive genius can make you a winner at whatever you do. A relationship gets a special boost as the New Moon invites you to take it to the next level. Later, watch out for mixed signals, even if someone's intentions seem good.

 

 

 

Aquarius January 20 – February 18

 

A dream or moment of quiet contemplation could bring inspiration, thanks to your intuition. When it comes to family affairs, a friend could suggest a radical solution that you might want to adopt. Kindness, sympathy, and good feelings abound, making for easy relationships. Friday's New Moon can be perfect for starting a diet or fitness routine, particularly if you're eager to get a beach-ready body. A romantic opportunity could be too good to miss on Saturday.

 

 

 

Pisces February 19 – March 20

Don't take it personally if someone backs out of a commitment. This is one of those weeks when disruptions can occur right when you don't need them. Midweek may need special attention, as an impulsive desire to shop could affect your finances. If you can't stick to a budget, take a friend with you who can intervene at the right moment. The weekend seems made for romance, but try not to get stuck with someone who is a bit of a drain.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

June 26, 2014

 

By Nicole Williams

Contributing Writer

 

 

Add one part Vegas, two parts battle of the sexes, four parts couples and one part wedding and you’ll get “Think Like A Man Too.” The romantic comedy is a sequel to “Think Like A Man,” which was based on Steve Harvey’s New York Times best-selling book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.”

 

The big screen sequel pulls out all the stops going above and beyond the first movie comically, for a side splitting good time.  The hilarious, fun and heartbreaking sequel brought the audience on an adventure through the lives of five couples, well four, if you discount the split relationship between Cedric, who is played by Kevin Hart and his wife Gail and La La Anthony who plays the solo friend, Sonia. The movie was directed by Tim story and produced by Will Packer who says that the sequel differs from the first film.

 

“The first film was definitely a romantic comedy. It was about building relationships,” Packer said. “This one is an out-and-out romp, as they try to literally, survive the weekend in Vegas.”

 

The movie centered on the highly anticipated wedding between Candace, played by Regina Hall and Michael, played by Terrence J and of course, the bachelor/bachelorette escapades that really brought the notion of “Vegas” to life. But amidst the sometimes stressful preparations were the normal jitters of any relationship. When is the right time to start a family? Are we ready to commit? What’s next? The movie really explored those questions as we see the nature of each characters true personality come out. Cedric, who is played by Kevin Hart, really became the center of attention as he tries to be “the best man in the history of best men.” But it’s Vegas, so as you can imagine it takes us on an adventure that can sometimes not go as planned. Mya who is played by Meagan Good discovers Zeke played by Romany Malco has a past that no girlfriend wants to hear.  Sonia, played by La La Anthony is the best friend to Mya, who is loyal and supportive. She says filming in Vegas brought some interesting elements to the movie.

 

“It’s Vegas, so you never know what to expect,” Anthony said.

 

The ambitious duo, Lauren and Dominic played by Taraji P. Henson and Michael Ealy also face their own questions as career battles love. Of course we know the battle of the Momma’s Boy, Michael and the mother-in-law from hell, Ms. Loretta, played by Jenifer Lewis. She provides a battle throughout the movie, as she tries to stay in control of the eventful trip. 

 

Then there were the happily married couple and the Newlyweds. Bennett the fanny-pack toting happy-go-lucky man who is played by comedian Gary Owen and his wife, Tish, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey are the happily married conservative couple, or at least that’s how they appear. Like previously mentioned, Vegas tends to turn things up a notch. Kristen and Jeremy, played by Gabrielle Union and Jerry Ferrara are the newlyweds of the group who are challenged with the question, “When should we start a family?”

 

The cast agrees that it was a blast working with each other for a part two.

 

“To be paid to hang out with your friends, I don’t know anybody who would have turned that deal down. We just genuinely enjoy each other,” Gabrielle Union said.

 

Hart also agrees that working with the cast was a “bonus.”

 

“Having the same cast is a bonus, you know? We’re not co-workers – we’re friends. Almost family,” he said.

 

The romantic comedy opened in theaters June 20, 2014.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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