January 17, 2013
Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr. has become the first out-of-state resident honored by a Utah human rights group.
The 76-year-old Gossett received the Drum Major Award from the Martin Luther King Jr. Utah Human Rights Commission during a luncheon last Friday in West Valley City.
Then-Gov. Michael Leavitt signed an executive order creating the commission in 1999 in an effort to promote principles of human rights.
Gossett stressed the importance of education and being sensitive to other cultures during an address to a crowd of about 200.
Gossett has appeared in dozens of films. He won an Oscar for best supporting actor in 1983 for his portrayal of the no-nonsense Navy flight school sergeant who whips Richard Gere into shape in “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
By Sandra Varner
He was cast as David Palmer, president of the most powerful country in the world on the smash TV hit, 24; and, his commanding baritone voice can be heard daily in nationally televised commercials for All State Insurance.
On inauguration weekend, Bay Area (San Mateo) native Dennis Haysbert (Wreck-It-Ralph, Breach, Jarhead) costars alongside a band of celebrated colleagues in the new crime drama, LUV, touted as rapper/actor/advocate Common’s first dramatic lead.
LUV is a timeless classic with a contemporary, masculine gloss.
An 11-year-old boy gets a crash course in what it means to be a man when he spends a day with the uncle he idolizes in LUV, a poignant and gritty coming-of-age story featuring standout performances by Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton and newcomer Michael Rainey Jr.
With his mother in rehab and his father out of the picture, young Woody Watson (Rainey Jr.) lives with his grandmother (Lonette McKee) in suburban Baltimore and longs for his family to be reunited. His charismatic Uncle Vincent (Common) has recently returned home after eight years in prison, determined to straighten out his life by opening a high-end crab shack that will establish him as a solid citizen with a legitimate future.
One day, instead of dropping Woody off at school, Vincent decides to give the boy a tutorial on how a man gets things done. After a trip to a tailor to get Woody a custom-fitted suit, the pair heads to the bank to sign off on the loan Vincent needs to fulfill his dreams. But when his meeting with a bank officer puts the brakes on his plans, Vincent has no one to turn to for help but his former associates, including Baltimore crime boss Mr. Fish (Haysbert) and his brother Arthur (Glover).
A day that begins with a parking- lot driving lesson and Woody’s first oyster takes a desperate turn when Fish insists Vincent run one more drug deal to demonstrate his loyalty. Soon Vincent finds himself pulled back into the violent world he is trying to escape—and Woody has to decide whether to follow his hero…or become his own man. Running time is 94 minutes.
LUV is directed by Sheldon Candis from a script by Candis and Justin Wilson.
Additional cast includes Meagan Good (TV’s Deception, Stomp the Yard, “Californication”), and Michael Kenneth Williams (“The Wire,” “Boardwalk Empire”).
My conversation with Dennis Haysbert:
Sandra Varner/Talk2SV: LUV is an intriguing story with a fresh approach. Yes, we’ve seen the perils of poor decisions, miss-steps and predictable outcomes of drugs and the like. It all takes place in a 24-hour-period; certainly you have experience in storytelling. Share your analysis of this film.
Haysbert: Yes, as well miss-steps with relatives. Well from my perspective, Mr. Fish, my character’s perspective, he always treated Vincent (Common) like a son, at the very least, a younger brother that he brought up in the business. When my business gets popped, Vincent took the rap and went to jail for it. He’s released early, which leads me to wonder what he has done or said to get out so early. So I think he’s betrayed me. Thus, I send him out on a fool’s errand and I wait to see the results of that.
Talk2SV: You talk about what your character’s feelings are about betrayal yet so much of the story centers on trust; the trust that obviously Mr. Fish and Vincent once had until your perception of his betrayal blew up in Vincent’s face as well as in your character’s.
Haysbert: Yes, exactly. Mr. Fish is trying to figure out just how much damage has been done and Vincent’s not talking. Then he comes to me for a loan to start his own business, all the while saying how innocent he is; there is a lot of mistrust. You can go back to The Godfather (movies) for that same example. Actually, while doing this scene, I was reminded of a line in The Godfather that Michael Corleone says, “This is not personal, it’s business …,” so as soon as it becomes personal, then there’s a problem.
Talk2SV: That’s a great parallel; I think that this film is full of parallels. There are several resonant themes throughout; we’ve talked about two of them. But I also enjoy the platform of strong male personalities --in conflicted and restricted settings-- having to work out their problems. What was the tenor of the set when everyone came together, particularly at the dinner table scene when all of the problems hit the fan?
Haysbert: That was a lot like a chess match to me. Just seeing what these parties were working with. I think my character showed a lot of finesse and skill in getting out of the predicament he was in. It’s still not clear whether or not I sent Vincent to his doom, even though he’s being shot at in an attempt to kill him.
Talk2SV: What backstory did you give your character?
Haysbert: Well that’s supposed to be a secret until opening day (laughter). But I’ll tell you in broad strokes. I consider my character to be a Fortune 500 executive with street knowledge. I mean, you see a lot of black men in businesses now as executives, but when you think about Baltimore (the setting of the story) and some of your impoverished areas in the country, my character didn’t have a formal education, but he was a basketball player so he must have gone to college and was able to use that aspect of education to do what he does, to be his own boss, to run the streets and so forth. One has to have a kind of flare for the streets and you have to want that kind of life.
Talk2SV: As an established and successful talent, what inspired you to work with first-time filmmaker Sheldon Candis?
Haysbert: You know, as far as I’m concerned with movies, everything starts with a script. If the script flows, it makes sense and has a clear march towards a clear conclusion; I am in hook, line and sinker. Sheldon’s personality is such that it was very welcoming. If he wasn’t the kind of person that he is I probably would have thought more about taking on a role like this. You have to have somebody that is confident in what they’re doing in order to do a movie of this magnitude – and – to do it for as little money as they had. I was very impressed with that.
Talk2SV: Given the quality of your voice and your entire packaging, we’ve heard you in animated films and seen you on stage. Are you using your voice talent in particular in other areas?
Haysbert: Currently, I am narrating documentaries. I just completed three documentaries that are due in the coming months.
Talk2SV: What do you want your career footnote to reflect?
Haysbert: I want to continually perform strong leading roles that challenge me; that thoroughly entertains the audience and provides the opportunity to learn something.
Talk2SV: In summary, LUV posits a familiar tale in the hands of this cast of wonderful black male actors, lending to the film’s authenticity.
Haysbert: Thank you. I was ecstatic to be involved with these gentlemen and let me close by also saying Michael Rainey was incredible. He’s a fine young actor and I think he’s got a bright, bright future.
Read my interview with LUV’s director Sheldon Candis at www.Talk2SV.com.
January 10, 2013
An unexpected piece of excellent advice comes from an old friend. Heed well what is said. Follow your intuition concerning matters at work. Your gut feelings are wiser than your brain this week. Trust you feelings more than your thoughts. Soul Affirmation: I let my instincts light my way this week.
This is a good time for personal inventory. Dust off old ideas. They will shine brighter than any new ideas this week. You are primed for success in an agreement about a money matter. Soul Affirmation: I find many things about myself that I really love.
Socially your positive vibes can take you a long way this week. Your intuition serves you well in business. A new move is favored. Open yourself up to financial flow. It’s coming. Soul Affirmation: I open myself up to the wealth of the universe.
Your home can be your best profit center this week. Expand your concept of what profit is. Boost your attention to your lover’s personal needs. Invest time in being considerate. Put other people first this week. Soul Affirmation: By rewarding others I reward myself.
Begin working to improve the quality of life in your community. Don’t hang back. Do it. Joy comes from what you give this week. This week your charm will open doors that were previously closed. Soul Affirmation: I look for the good in all that comes to me this week.
Be open and honest in your dealings with a co-worker. Deception will double back on you, if you try it. This is a bad week for being sly. Your true intentions show on your face. Be thorough don’t cut corners. Soul Affirmation: I let my words reveal the not-so-hidden truth about my being.
The boss is depending on you at work this week. The reward is buried in the gifts you give to whoever crosses your path. Don’t look for payment for the good you do. Time will send it surging out at you. Soul Affirmation: I give thanks for the chance to give.
You’ve always had the ability to take the slow and easy route to getting things done. This week is an excellent week for practicing that method to the maximum. Friends are not going to help you with the problem you face, but go slow and easy and you can handle it alone. Soul Affirmation: Slow and easy is the best way for me to travel this week.
Use your tried and true formula for a successful week. Remember the things that worked for you in the past. Now is not the time to try anything new. Forget about a minor irritation that comes from someone you love. Soul Affirmation: I find comfort in the familiar.
Give yourself a chance to grow, and not by eating more. Eating good is alright but for true growth expand your horizons. Look at life a little bit differently. Take a walk on the other side of the question. Soul Affirmation: I look to distant horizons to find truth this week.
Just start talking. What you need to say next will come to you. You’ve got some explaining to do and silence will get you nowhere. Love can be yours at this time but you’re going to have to use your gift for gab to get it. Soul Affirmation: Charm is my middle name this week.
This is just the kind of time you like so enjoy it. Family members are not busy. You can get into their heads and see what’s going on. Open up your own head and let someone in. You are at your best, socially, so have some fun. A Romantic bond becomes stronger. Soul Affirmation: I love charming, positive head games.
By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. Associated Press
For TLC singer T-Boz, it has been a rocky road since the 2002 death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
She has faced foreclosure, filed twice for bankruptcy and dealt with an abusive marriage that ended in divorce. The 42-year-old has also experienced life-threatening health issues that derailed her singing career.
She’s hoping her struggles — and getting past them — will connect with audiences through her new reality show, “Totally T-Boz,” an hour-long, four-episode series on TLC. The show debuted last week and airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. Eastern).
“This is a real story about a real girl who did real things,” said T-Boz, who was born Tionne Watkins. “This is a show of substance (and) shares more about me that many didn’t know about.”
Along with Left Eye and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, TLC released back-to-back hits, including “Creep,” “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs.” Their Grammy-winning sophomore album, “CrazySexyCool,” sold more than 10 million units.
But since Left Eye’s death, TLC’s music career has fallen off-track. A new member was to be brought on to replace Left Eye, but it didn’t happen.
T-Boz, who has moved from her hometown of Atlanta to Los Angeles, dealt with a brain tumor in 2006, and the surgery left her with partial hearing and sight. She said it took three years of physical therapy to recover, and now she’s hoping to relaunch her music career as a solo artist and tour for TLC’s 20th anniversary.
“I superseded a lot of things. I was told I wouldn’t live past 30,” said T-Boz, who also has chronic sickle cell anemia. “The realistic thing is that I have a child to live here for, and if I was dead, I couldn’t do it.”
T-Boz says she doesn’t want to overwork herself at the expense of her health. She said she’ll take a step back and focus more as a writer and producer if necessary.
“I've never been camera-happy, so I don't mind being behind the scenes,” she said. “Honestly, those are the people who aren’t killing themselves to get a paycheck. ... I don’t want to be 55 years old in a smoky club, singing my old songs. No way, honey.”
By MESFIN FEKADU Associated Press
When a teenage Nas opted out of street hustling to chase his musical dream, those around him found it amusing.
"When I chose to get in rap, my friends chose to do other things and not all great things. They chose to be in the streets and kind of laughed at me in a way about taking rap so seriously," said the rapper, who hails from the New York City borough of Queens. "I'm glad I stuck with it because I believed in it from day one."
No one laughs about Nas now. Considered one of music's most celebrated lyricists, he's a top contender at next month's Grammy Awards with four nominations. The 39-year-old rap veteran reached new heights last year with the release of his album "Life Is Good," which made several critics' end-of-the-year lists. It is nominated for best rap album, competing with records by Drake, Rick Ross, The Roots, Lupe Fiasco and 2 Chainz.
"The album was just such a piece that really told you about my life, about my divorce without doing too much, without telling too much," said Nas, whose split with singer Kelis was finalized in 2010.
Nas also gets personal on his album about another woman: his daughter. The song "Daughters," about the struggles of parenting a girl, is up for best rap song and best rap performance; his jam with the late Amy Winehouse, "Cherry Wine," is nominated for best rap/sung collaboration.
He talked about his career, the nominations, his recent tour partner Lauryn Hill and more in a recent interview.
AP: "Daughters" isn't a typical contemporary rap song. How's it feel to see that one garner attention at the Grammys?
Nas: I'm really proud of that song. Just writing it, I'm like, "I'm going through something in my life with me and my family," and I don't think about who's going to hear it at that point because it's that personal. ...The fact that it made the final cut of the album; the fact that it became a single was great enough for me. Like, wow. And then to be acknowledged by the Grammys is mind-blowing.
AP: What does your daughter think of the song?
Nas: I don't know. She never really told me. It was just a thing. She's used to me making music and she's used to me doing things, doing songs that are personal. Never (songs) about her that are so personal, but I think part of her just knows that this was something that was weighing heavy on my heart and I think she gave me a pass for that. I don't think she was always too happy about it. It's different. It's not like she's a fan of it. She's my daughter, so it's a different relationship; a little touchy.
AP: You've been releasing albums since 1991. How are you finding new things to write about?
Nas: Rule No. 1 is you can't be fake. If you're fake, you become a gimmick and you're selling a gimmick; a little gimmick is cool, this is entertainment. But when you base your stuff on mostly real stuff, you never run out of it because every day is a different adventure.
AP: You recently toured with Lauryn Hill. What was that like?
Nas: She's almost like someone from a different era. ...She possesses this aura of someone like Roberta Flack, Nina Simone — it's almost like you're with them, on tour with that person. And sometimes it's even more advanced for the audience; the audience is used to dealing with microwave music, so to have someone like Ms. Lauryn Hill onstage, they might not understand, they haven't seen artists like that before, and I feel like I'm with someone that's like, beyond me.
AP: Will you record music together again?
Nas: I don't know. I would love to. It's really about sitting down and really cracking into it. She's a real serious artist.
AP: Which albums are the standouts of 2012?
Nas: No disrespect to nobody else in rap music, but Kendrick Lamar. I'm really happy about his record. I needed that. His record reaches you. It gives you hope. ...Also, Meek Mill. His energy is amazing.
AP: What's it like when you return to your hometown of Queens?
Nas: You get lost out there sometimes. You out there in Hollywood, Sunset (Blvd), Rodeo (Drive), Miami, South Beach, London — when I'm in Queens I realize I can always come back to where it all started, where I was raised at and the place that gave me the first, most exciting times of my life.
AP: Are you working on new music now?
Nas: Yes. It has started. I must tell you. I can't stop now. I'm in a great zone.
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