November 07, 2013
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
Motown founder Berry Gordy recalls that when he first signed The Jackson 5, he sent them to live in a house in California — and the rowdy kids ended up getting kicked out and had to move in with him.
Joked Gordy: “Be careful what you wish for.”
On Monday, Marlon Jackson thanked Gordy for “letting us come to your house and tear it up,” as well as for putting them on the path to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career in a tribute to Gordy at the Ebony Power 100 gala.
“Michael and his brothers were just incredible to be around,” he said of the group, fronted by the late Michael Jackson. “I’m happy they’re here.”
Gordy danced along with the rest of the crowd as the Jacksons — Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Tito — performed hits such as “Shake Your Body Down to the Ground” and “I Want You Back.”
Gordy received a lifetime achievement award at the event, which honored blacks who are wielding considerable power, such as President Barack Obama, Forest Whitaker, commentator Van Jones, educator Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Serena Williams.
Among those in attendance were Magic Johnson, Victor Cruz, Lala Vasquez and Condola Rashad. Nick Cannon was the host of the ceremony, which also featured a performance from the actors from “Motown: The Musical.”
Gordy, whose Motown Records not only changed music history but also America's culture with its sound and image, recalled that the first major cover the label got for its artists was Ebony magazine.
“It was the Supremes. They had no idea how much it meant to us,” said Gordy, who took a copy of the cover out of his pocket to show the audience.
Gordy said Ebony magazine, which has chronicled black culture for decades, was integral to his success.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle because I’m back here at Ebony again,” Gordy said. “I really feel like I should be giving them an award because they were so important to giving us the confidence.”
Besides the musical tribute, the Jacksons gave Gordy a plaque of platinum records marking the millions of records they sold as part of Motown Records.
The Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) is ready to take movie goers on a cinematic journey with international film screenings from around the globe with the announcement of its call for submissions. The 22nd annual PAFF will be held on February 6-17, 2014 in Los Angeles. Over the years, PAFF has showcased films from all parts of the world, representing such countries as Angola, Austria, England, Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, and the United States.
“Over the years, the filmmakers from around the world have become more sophisticated in telling their stories,” says Asantewa Olatunji, the director of programming for PAFF.
This year, PAFF received several awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) and the first ever Special Achievement Award in the Film Festival Category by African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) for its contribution to cinematic arts. In February, the festival screened a total of 154 films, representing 34 countries — that is, 23 documentaries, 13 short documentaries, 67 narrative features, and 51 narrative shorts.
Currently, PAFF is accepting submissions of independent features, shorts, narratives and documentary films made by or about people of African descent. Applications are available via the PAFF website at www.paff.org, by emailing
ELIGIBILITY: The PAFF is currently accepting applications for films and videos made by and/or about people of African descent. (Please note: the filmmaker(s) need not be of African or African American descent.) Films should preferably depict positive and realistic images and can be of any genre — drama, comedy, horror, adventure, animation, romance, science fiction, experimental, etc. PAFF accepts features and shorts both narrative and documentary. The film festival will accept submissions of works in progress; however, the final version of the film must be completed no later than January 2, 2014.
COMPETITION: The PAFF competition categories are: Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary, Best Director — First Feature, plus, Audience Favorite Awards for Narrative Feature and Favorite Documentary. Films in competition must be copyrighted no earlier than 2013. With the exception of Audience Favorite Awards, all films are judged by industry professionals, selected by PAFF. In addition to competition awards, other programming and festival special prizes will be awarded.
SUBMISSION: For information about the festival, submission procedures, fees and registration, visit www.paff.org or call 310. 337-4737. Late submissions will be accepted until November 16, 2013. Official selection announcements will be made beginning December 16, 2013.
For more information visit www.paff.org or call (310) 337-4737.
October 31, 2013
By Kam Williams
Born in Harvey, Illinois on August 26, 1993, Lauren Keyana Palmer has been wowing audiences since the tender age of 9. Keke first received great acclaim when she starred as the title character in the sleeper hit “Akeelah and the Bee,” opposite actor Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.
Keke followed that powerful performance with lead roles in “The Longshots,” “Shrink” and “Joyful Noise.” She’s also made memorable appearances in such films as “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “Cleaner” and “Madea’s Family Reunion,” as well as voiceover work in animated features like “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom” and “Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare.”
Keke will next be starring in the horror thriller “Animal,” directed by Brett Simmons, which is set to be released in spring of 2014. On TV, Keke played the title character on the hit Nickelodeon series “True Jackson VP,” and received four NAACP Awards for “Best Actress in Children's Television.” Her other television credits include “90210,” “Cold Case,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and “ER.”
In 2012, she produced and starred in her first made for TV movie entitled “Rags,” which aired on Nickelodeon. Earlier this year, she handled another title role in the Lifetime made-for-TV movie, “The Carlina White Story.”
Keke is currently starring in the DirectTV miniseries “Full Circle,” written by Neil LaBute. And musically, she is in the studio recording her second album with the award-winning producer Bangladesh.
When she isn’t acting or singing, Keke believes in giving back. She is very involved with the Boys & Girls Club of America, Saving Our Daughters, the YWCA, the Embrace Girls Foundation, and she is an ambassador for Robi Reid's AIDS awareness and prevention organization, the Reid for Hope Foundation.
Here she talks about her latest outing as Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas in “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story,” a VH1 original movie.
Kam Williams: Hi Keke, thanks for another interview.
Keke Palmer: No problem, Kam. Glad to be here!
KW: What interested you in Crazy Sexy Cool? Were you a fan of TLC as a kid?
KP: Being a fan is exactly what made me want to do this film. I wanted to be a part of telling the story of a favorite group of mine.
KW: How did you prepare for the role? Is it hard to play a real-life person than a fictional character?
KP: I just watched a lot of old footage. I also spent a lot of time with Chilli and just observed her.
KW: Was Chilli present on the set making suggestions?
KP: Yes! She definitely let me do my thing, but she was always there for questions.
KW: How would you describe TLC’s legacy in one word?
KP: I don’t think there’s a word to describe it, really. They really inspired a generation of women to be confident go-getters.
KW: What message do you think people will take away from Crazy Sexy Cool?
KP: You can do anything as long as you don’t stop believing. When it is meant to be, it will be. You just have to follow your heart.
KW: Tell me a little about your new TV series, “Full Circle.”
KP: It’s a mini-series written by Neil LaBute about a bunch of different people who connect in some way in the last episode.
KW: What’s your character Chan’Dra like?
KP: She’s a strong, young high school student who will stop at nothing to get what she feels is deserved for her brother.
KW: You’ve been shooting a horror film set to be released next spring called Animal. The picture sounds great, but please don’t tell me you die first, like many a black character in scary movies?
KP: [LOL] If I told you that answer, wrong or right, it would spoil the movie! I will say that we break some stereotypes.
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
KP: No, actually. [Laughs]
KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KP: Every day since I’ve been filming my new movie, one of my cast members always has me in stitches.
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KP: Probably reality-TV.
KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
KP: “Heaven is For Real.” http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0849946158/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
KP: Pancakes! [LOL]
KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
KP: Passionate people.
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
KP: Don’t have just one.
KW: The Mike Pittman question: What was your best career decision?
KP: To pick projects that affect me.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
KP: For everyone in the world to love each other.
KW: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend the time?
KP: With my family.
KW: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KP: Running through the beads that used to hang from the doorway, separating the room.
KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?
KW: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
KP: I’m not sure I can articulate that.
KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
KP: I may be slightly more patient on the carpet.
KW: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
KW: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
KP: No real fear of limitations.
KW: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would that be?
KW: The Michael Ealy question: If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?
KP: Dr. Martin Luther King.
KW: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
KP: “The Wiz!”
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: What is your favorite charity?
KP: Embrace Girls.
KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
KP: Follow your heart’s truth with no need for personal gain other than the feeling produced when doing what you truly love.
KW: Thanks again for the time, Keke, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
KP: Thank you, Kam.
To see a trailer for “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story,” visit:
Airdates for “Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story”:
• Tuesday, November 05
4:00 PM ET/PT on VH1
By Zenitha Prince
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper
Hollywood continues to be a bastion of homogeneity where people of color are underrepresented, according to a new study from the University of Southern California at Annenberg.
Professor Stacy L. Smith and her team analyzed 500 top U.S. box office films released in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 for the racial and ethnic representation both behind the camera and in more than 20,000 speaking roles.
They found that in 2012, only 10.8 percent of speaking characters were Black, 4.2 percent were Hispanic, 5 percent were Asian, and 3.6 from other (or mixed race) ethnicities. Comparatively, over three-quarters of all speaking characters were White (76.3 percent).
Broken down per film, the analysis found that in nearly 40 percent of all movies released in 2012, Black characters comprise less than 5 percent of the speaking cast, while only 9 percent of movies met national demographic trends and had Black actors comprising 12 to 14.9 percent of the cast.
“There is still a noticeable lack of diversity across the landscape of popular films,” Smith, the principal investigator, said in a statement. “This year is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights movement, and the Census shows that the population of the United States is more diverse than ever. Our film content, however, depicts something very different.”
The scarcity of Black faces occurs not only on the screen, but also in the director’s chair, the report found. Among a total of 565 directors and 500 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2012, only 33 (5.8 percent) films had directors who were Black. Accounting for multiple films directed by the same person, only 22 unique Black directors helmed top-grossing films in the last five years, and only two of those directors are female.
“It is hard to believe that across all of these top directing jobs, there are only two qualified Black females. Other talented Black female directors exist. Where are they?” Smith said.
The absence of directors of color influences the number of minority actors getting jobs, as minority directors are more likely to hire actors of color, the report found. For example, among films that had a Black director, 52.6 percent of that movie’s speaking characters were Black, compared to just 9.9 percent for films with non-Black directors, the study found.
“Quite simply, when we see diversity behind the camera, we see a difference in the percentage of diverse characters on screen,” said Marc Choueiti, a co-author of the study. “The question is: are these directors encouraged to create more diverse stories that reflect the world? Or is the type of story they are entrusted with an exclusive story about their own racial or ethnic group?”
To view the report, visit annenberg.usc.edu
By Stacy M. Brown
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
Famed film director John Singleton said when movies about African Americans debut, he’s always the first to be called to lend insight.
Singleton, who directed the 1991 critically-acclaimed drama “Boyz in the Hood,” said that recently his telephone hasn’t stopped ringing
“I’d like to talk about other movies, too,” he said, but acknowledged that he doesn’t mind weighing in on the recent avalanche of black films, including what many view as an Oscar front-runner, “12 Years a Slave.”
“I’ve seen it and I can tell you it’s a work of art,” said Singleton, 45.
“Steve McQueen, who is black and from the United Kingdom, has created a raw and unflinching look at a black man’s descent into one of the darkest chapters of American history, it’s as authentic as it gets,” he said.
Kasi Lemmons, who directed such films as, “Talk to Me,” the 2007 movie based on the life of native Washingtonian and radio personality, Ralph ‘Petey’ Greene and the 1997 love story and drama, “Eve’s Bayou,” said “12 Years a Slave,” and other African-American films have resonated throughout Hollywood and around the globe because of their frank portrayal of the various trials of blacks.
“It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Lemmons, 52, whose new film, “Black Nativity,” will hit the Silver Screen next month. “These films are all different, comedies, dramas, historical dramas, musicals. It really is a whole range of movies primarily directed by and starring African Americans. It’s pretty exciting,” she said.
McQueen’s “12 Years” film, which debuted on Friday, Oct. 18, counts as a harrowing and unforgettable tale that takes audiences back to early America where “a peculiar institution” proved to be the norm. The two-hour and 13-minute movie confronts the barbaric reality of this country’s history as it pertains to blacks and slavery.
In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free man working as a violinist in Saratoga, N.Y., with a wife and two children, set out on a trip to Washington, D.C. Two strangers approached Northup when he arrived in the Nation’s Capital, and claimed to be businessmen seeking to hire a musician. After dining with the men, Northup wakes up to find himself, bound and chained, captured by slave traders.
He’s beaten and shipped to the South to be sold, ultimately to a man named Epps, portrayed in the film by Michael Fassbender.
The beatings proved to be so grotesque that Fassbender said that he couldn’t watch the retakes during the editing of the film. “It made me sick, I nearly passed out, that’s how real it was,” said Fassbender, 36, who has appeared in such films as “X-Men: First Class,” “Inglourious Basterds,” and “Jane Eyre.”
Violence and degradation dominate the film, including a hard-to-watch scene in which Northup stands all day with a noose around his neck as the ground sinks beneath him and other slaves, slave owners and every day folk pass by without acknowledging that he’s even there.
“There should be Oscar nods for McQueen, screenwriter John Ridley, lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who gives the performance of a lifetime; and, hopefully, Fassbender, who plays the most compelling big-screen villain this year,” Singleton said.
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