May 16, 2013
By KENNETH MILLER
Assistant Managing Editor
Black Entertainment Television (BET) rolled out its heavy hitters for the launching of BET Awards|13 and BET Experience weekend at L.A. Live from June 28-30, at an all star presser on Tuesday May 14 at L.A.’s Icon Ultra Lounge in downtown Los Angeles.
Hosted by the BET President of Music Programming and Specials Stephen G. Hill, a galaxy of entertainment media reps showed up in force to catch the rising hip hop star Lamar, super-star Chris Brown and actor/comedian and award show host Christ Tucker, and singer and television personality Tamar Braxton.
Hip–hop slugger Drake led all artist with 12 nominations, including Best Male Hip Hop Artist and Video of the Year, but Compton sensation Lamar was right behind with eight nominations.
Brown who has won more BET Awards than any other performer made the announcement of the nominations which also included eight for 2Chainz, A$AP Rocky with five; while Jay Z was among the other leaders with four nominations.
Drake is nominated three times for the top prize, video of the year. His hit, “Started from the Bottom,” will compete with his collaborations with 2 Chainz (“No Lie”) and A$AP Rocky (“Problems”). The top award has 10 nominees, including Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” Kanye West’s “Mercy,” “Adorn” by Miguel and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.”
Charlie Wilson was announced as this year’s Cadillac Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. He was on hand for the press conference as was Chris Brown.
Brown was announced as the first confirmed performer. He told those gathered that he “just wants to have fun” that night. “I always strive to give fans what they want. I always want to bring something new and original.” Brown also noted during the q and a portion that he has finished the video for the song “They Don’t Know” and that song features vocals from the late Aaliyah “that haven’t been heard before.”
R. Kelly will also perform at the awards show, to air live June 30 from the Nokia Theater L.A. Live. This year’s BET Awards will be the culmination of the cable net’s first ever BET Experience, a three-day music and lifestyle fest done in partnership with AEG Live that will also feature ‘A Taste of Taste of Soul.’
Chris Tucker will bring his own special brand of levity as BET Awards host. Riffing on the BET theme “Anything can happen,” Tucker joked, “I don’t know what I’m going to do... I might not show up. So anything can happen.”
Check out the full list of nominees at lasentinel.net
May 09, 2013
By Kam Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
Born in Chicago on October 25, 1971, Craig Robinson is currently appearing in the final season of “The Office” on NBC, where he portrays acerbic Dunder-Mifflin employee Darryl Philbin. He is definitely a world away from his original career intentions; before deciding to pursue a comedy career full-time, Robinson was a K-8 teacher in the Chicago Public Schools.
He had earned his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and a Master’s in Education from St. Xavier University. It was while studying education that he discovered his love of acting and comedy upon joining the famed Second City Theatre.
Craig made his mark on the comedy circuit at the 1998 Montreal “Just for Laughs” Festival. That year, he also won the Oakland Comedy Festival Awards and the Miller Genuine Draft 1996 Comedy Search. He soon went on to perform his act on “The Jimmy Kimmel Show” and on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”
His rise to success with “The Office” and his stand-up prowess quickly brought him to the attention of comedy maven Judd Apatow. Robinson made audiences question their notions of vanity, playing the sensitive bouncer in Knocked Up. He then kept audiences glued to their seats as one of the henchman hunting Seth Rogen and James Franco’s bumbling stoner characters in Pineapple Express, and made fans squirm when he co-starred with Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks in Zack and Miri Make A Porno.
In 2010, Craig starred alongside Rob Corddry and John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine. The story follows three men as they visit the hot tub where they once partied, accidentally discover it is now a time machine, and travel back to their raunchy heyday in the mid-1980s. Fans’ voices spoke loudly, and early negotiations are currently in progress for a sequel.
Here, he talks about his first leading man role as Wade Walker in Peeples, a comedy co-starring Kerry Washington.
LAWT: What interested you in Peeples?
CR: When I met with [director] Tina Gordon Chism, I was impressed with her passion about the project. She had lived this experience of dating someone from a family with so many secrets, and watching them unravel. So, she knew what she was talking about. And when she let me know that Kerry Washington was playing the love interest, I went, “Okay, I’m in! Let’s go ahead and do it.”
LAWT: Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: You’ve done some great cameo and support roles, but now landed a lead role here. Congratulations! So, in Peeples, your fans will see more of you. How was it playing a main character and working with [producer] Tyler Perry?
CR: I worked with Tyler before on Daddy’s Little Girls. He couldn’t be smarter or more laid back and cool. He’s always throwing out lines and is funny as hell. And he was shining his light on Peeples, too, lending his name to showcase Tina as a first-time director, and me as a first-time lead. I’m humbled and honored to work with him. He’s great!
LAWT: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier would like to know what was it like to on the set with legendary actors like Diahann Carroll and Melvin Van Peebles?
CR: Diahann Carroll delivered a very moving speech at the start of the whole project, and Melvin pulled me aside on the set and told me to, “Stay strong!” in a way that carried considerable heft. These people are legends, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled about their participation in the movie and blessing it. It was superb.
LAWT: Patricia also says: Given that you are a singer, are you interested in recording an album one day?
CR: Yes I am. I have a sound. It’s called funk mixed with stank. That’s what I do.
LAWT: What’s it like having the same name as First Lady Michelle Obama’s brother?
CR: I was once dating a woman who got very upset after confusing the two of us when she found my picture next to his bio which indicated that he’s divorced with kids, and remarried. So, if you can imagine, that’s what it’s like.
LAWT: Larry Greenberg says: I'm just crazy about films with time travel. Where there any special issues or tricky scenes when you played Nick in Hot Tub Time Machine?
CR: Yes, there was a special issue. Her name was Jessica Paré. She was topless with me in the hot tub. So, yes, that was a very special moment, and I watch the movie every night because of that scene.
LAWT: Dinesh Sharma asks: Do you think that your role describes a challenge most black men face today, of trying to fit into upper-class black society? Or was the movie just Meet the Parents with an African-American twist?
CR: Peeples is definitely not Meet the Parents. It’s more a movie about family secrets. It does explore class issues somewhat, but it’s mostly about living your own truth.
LAWT: What is your favorite dish to cook?
CR: I can bake the hell out of some chicken, my friend.
LAWT: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
CR: Celestine Prophecies.
LAWT: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
CR: Butterflies by Michael Jackson.
LAWT: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
CR: JSLV, Just Live, it’s a company in California.
LAWT: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
CR: Craig Robinson… I see growth.
LAWT: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
CR: To be able hug my deceased family members, friends and godfather.
LAWT: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
CR: Banging on the piano while my grandmother was watching me. I’d run up to her and ask: “How was that, Grandma?” And she’d say, “That was beautiful, baby!” And I’d run back to the piano and play some more. I’m sure that’s why I still play today, because I was encouraged from such a young age, 2 or 3.
LAWT: The Judyth Piazza question: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
LAWT: The Mike Pittman question” asks: What was your best career move?
CR: Choosing my manager, Mark Schulman.
LAWT: PBS President Neal Shapiro asks: If you could really time travel and live in another period, which one would you choose?
CR: The Sixties, because it was the beginning of Rock & Roll. All the songs sounded alike, since they were using the same three chords, which would make it easy to hop out and rock.
LAWT: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
CR: That’s a great question. I can’t think of one.
LAWT: The Viola Davis question: Who do you really believe you are when you go home as opposed to the person you pretend to be on the red carpet?
CR: The red carpet is weird because, when they don’t know who you are, you’re standing there posing and nobody’s taking pictures of you. And when they do know you, they’re calling your name from every which way and you don’t know in which direction to turn. For me, I’m more in control at home. On the carpet, I want to be in control, but it can be overwhelming.
LAWT: The Gabby Douglas question: If you had to choose another profession, what would it be?
CR: Rock star! Singing songs that the whole world knows, like my favorite band, Earth, Wind and Fire.
LAWT: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there something that you promised to do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?
CR: No, because I don’t make promises unless I know I’m gonna keep ‘em.
LAWT: The Anthony Anderson question: If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?
LAWT: The Jamie Foxx question: If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do? Would you do the bad stuff, you never got a chance to do, or would you do good stuff to make sure you make it into heaven?
CR: I would live like I’m already living. If I couldn’t get to my family, I’d hit my favorite restaurant. I’d seize the moment.
LAWT: The Kerry Washington question: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
CR: A whale.
LAWT: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?
CR: The little things that let me know I’m on the right path, like running into an old friend, or getting into the car and catching an awesome song from the beginning.
LAWT: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?
CR: I don’t get too close in relationships. I kinda have my arm out, like the Heisman trophy, because I don’t want to hurt somebody the way I was hurt.
LAWT: The Harriet Pakula-Teweles question: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in with an eye toward a particular role.
CR: Yeah, Cannonball Run.
LAWT: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks: Do you have a favorite charity?
CR: No, I don’t.
LAWT: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do?
CR: Because it brings me closer to people, and it lets me explore who I am. It’s a chance for me to be connected. Whenever I’m performing live, the first thing I look for is to make a connection.
LAWT: What is your favorite way of performing?
CR: I’m in my element when I’m alone on stage with a microphone and a keyboard.
LAWT: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
CR: Be yourself, because you’re special. There’s only one of you. Second, be tenacious, visualize success, and then live it. And remember everything you learned in kindergarten.
LAWT: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
CR: As a joy!
May 09, 2013
Sweet sincere emotions can run through you like the odors of different perfumes. Open yourself up and let it flow. If love offers itself this week please accept the offer. Everything is open. Write down what you think of yourself this week. Save it. Make a poster out of it. Soul Affirmation: Trust gives me a deep sense of peace and joy.
Business as usual is good business. Energy is high. Others give back to you what you gave to them the past few weeks. We hope you were generous because what you get this week will be a multiple of what you bestowed. Soul Affirmation: I love myself for being myself.
Did joy take a vacation on you? Well, joy is back and ready to unpack. Get the spare room ready or move over and let joy crawl in bed with you. Smile in joy’s face and make joy feel at home. Know that you’ve done good. Soul Affirmation: Joy is my house guest this week.
Putting the world back in balance is your chore this week. Cheerfulness has been a little lower on the scale than it should be. You can spread it around lavishly this week. Give some to everyone. The more you give the more you’ll get.
Soul Affirmation: Goodness is its own reward.
Celebrate! It’s summer time! Communications will flow easily for you this week. Dress up and get the weekend started earlier. Social life can take your mind off of heavy subjects. Don’t tighten up, brighten up. Soul Affirmation: I get joy from giving good things.
Stay positive on all fronts this week. You’ll receive subtle cues this week that will confirm what you already know to be true. Act on your instincts and others will be receptive to your vibes. Even if you feel fleeting moments of uncertainty this week, go with the flow, and be a team player. Soul Affirmation: This week is the day the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.
Your positive energy will spread feverishly among family and friends this week. Your timing is just right because your positive vibes will be the extra nudge someone needs to pull through the week. Your strength and friendship will be tested. Soul Affirmation: Facing down challenges makes me feel good about myself.
Call a family member to ask for a second opinion on something important. A different perspective will give you more options on your action plan. Use your faith to guide you through a mental maze that might stir up confusion. Soul Affirmation: I smile and trust in the powers beyond myself.
Give yourself a break this week! You’ve been going at full speed and you need to shift down to a lower gear. Time is a luxury and it will be on your side this week. Kick off your shoes, enjoy a long afternoon nap, or curl up with a good book that you’ve been meaning to read. Soul Affirmation: I let the outer world and inner world change places this week
This week remember to pamper yourself by giving. To give with no expectation of receiving in return is truly a luxury of the joy filled spirit. The act of giving has a reciprocal effect on those that it touches. So when you share your gifts know that as you do you are lavishing not only others but also yourself. Soul Affirmation: Giving is a luxury that a rich spirit can afford.
Romance, friendship, family ties, no matter what you call it, love is indeed your special blessing this week. Allow yourself to show love and to be loved. Bless someone by sharing your love and you will be blessed in return. Soul Affirmation: Giving love is finding love.
You’re not usually a gambler but luck is with you as never before in recent months. You have the Midas touch this week. Buy a lottery ticket or make a wager. Gamble on love if you have that option handy. You can’t miss if you follow your instincts. Soul Affirmation: My hunches pay all day this week.
May 09, 2013
By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
A choreographer and television personality who was a key witness in Michael Jackson’s successful defense against child molestation charges is seeking permission to file a claim against the singer’s estate alleging the pop superstar sexually abused him as a child, court records and an attorney said.
Wade Robson was abused by Jackson during a seven-year period, the choreographer’s attorney, Henry Gradstein, wrote in a statement Wednesday. The attorney said Robson, 30, suffered a breakdown last year but has not stated how much his client is seeking to recoup from Jackson’s estate if a judge permits him to pursue his abuse allegations.
Details on Robson’s accusations were filed under seal.
The molestation allegations have been fiercely denied by an attorney for Jackson’s estate and the singer’s criminal defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr.
“Mr. Robson was one of my strongest witnesses in Michael Jackson’s criminal trial,” Mesereau said. “I called him to the stand at the beginning of the defense case and he was adamant that he had never been improperly touched or molested. This makes no sense.”
Robson was the first defense witness during the 2005 trial that ended with Jackson’s acquittal on molestation charges. He also spoke favorably about Jackson after the singer’s death in June 2009.
“Last year, on a career trajectory that was off the charts, (Robson) collapsed under the stress and sexual trauma of what had happened to him for seven years as a child,” Gradstein wrote in a statement that referred to Jackson as a sexual predator.
“There are significant legal issues involved in this case that have the potential to impact lives beyond just our client,” he wrote.
Gradstein said he could not discuss specifics of the case, but he cited Robson’s recent breakdown as the choreographer’s reason for reversing his previous statements about Jackson. “As a result, he started intensive treatment which ultimately led to his ability to come forward,” Gradstein said.
Robson, an Australian-born choreographer, has appeared on the Fox series “So You Think You Can Dance” and worked with Britney Spears and other stars.
“Mr. Robson’s claim is outrageous and pathetic,” Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman wrote in a statement. “This is a young man who has testified at least twice under oath over the past 20 years and said in numerous interviews that Michael Jackson never did anything inappropriate to him or with him. Now, nearly four years after Michael has passed this sad and less than credible claim has been made. We are confident that the court will see this for what it is.”
Gradstein filed a motion seeking permission to file a late creditor's claim against Jackson’s estate on May 1, nearly four years after the singer’s death, court records show. Most of the documents are sealed pending a June court hearing, but a summary of the documents states the choreographer includes a declaration from a psychiatrist and an “Unfiled Complaint for Childhood Sexual Abuse.”
The period for filing claims against Jackson’s estate has long since passed, but a California civil statute allows victims of abuse to file a lawsuit within three years of discovering “that psychological injury or illness ... was caused by the sexual abuse.”
The judge overseeing Jackson’s massive probate case will have to determine whether Robson's claim can go forward.
Gradstein’s statement did not address any specifics about when or where Jackson’s alleged molestation occurred, but the choreographer testified extensively in 2005 about the time he spent with Jackson.
“Wade Robson, in addition to being one of the most talented people on the planet, is one of the kindest, most gentle, decent and introspective human beings one will ever meet. He is the loving father of a young son and happily married,” Gradstein wrote in a statement first obtained by celebrity website TMZ.
His claim was filed nearly eight years to the day after Robson testified Jackson never inappropriately touched him. He was 22 at the time he testified, telling jurors in Jackson's criminal case that he met Jackson when he was 5 years old and had spent the night at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch more than 20 times, sleeping in the singer’s bedroom on most visits.
During the trial, Robson bristled at testimony by other witnesses that they had seen Jackson molest him. “I’m very mad about it,” he told jurors. “It’s not true and they put my name through the dirt. I’m really not happy about it.”
The claims come as Jackson’s mother, who supported her son throughout the molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif., is in a Los Angeles courtroom pursuing a negligent hiring case against the promoter of Jackson’s planned series of comeback concerts.
Katherine Jackson has not addressed Robson’s allegations, and her attorney, Perry Sander Jr., said Mesereau was the appropriate person to comment on the molestation claims.
Marvin S. Putnam, an attorney for concert promoter AEG Live LLC, said he wasn’t familiar with the specifics of Robson's claims but doubted it would come up in the civil trial filed by Jackson’s mother. “I don’t see how it has anything to do with our case,” he said.
May 09, 2013
By ANTHONY McCARTNEY
A dancer who worked with Michael Jackson throughout his career testified on Wednesday that she told the director of Jackson’s ill-fated concert tour that she was worried about the singer's health.
Witness Alif Sankey told a jury deciding a lawsuit that the pop star appeared thin and unprepared in 2009 for the rigors of his planned comeback concerts known as “This Is It.”
The singer showed up at one rehearsal with shoes that had holes in the soles, missed rehearsals and appeared much thinner than earlier in his career, Sankey testified.
Sankey showed jurors an email she wrote to tour director Kenny Ortega in early June 2009, urging him to try to improve Jackson’s health and spirits. She never got a direct reply but testified that Ortega raised the concerns with concert promoter AEG Live.
“Please help me help you to get him back into that Magical Light, please let me help you help him find what was lost, his GRAIL,” Sankey wrote to Ortega, who she had worked closely with for a number of years.
Testimony showed Ortega copied Sankey on several email messages that he sent to AEG executives about Jackson’s condition and the need for him to receive physical therapy and better nutrition.
“He requires more attention and management,” Ortega wrote in one email. “I truly believe he needs nourishment guidance and physical therapy (massage) for his fatigued muscles and injuries. He is not in great physical shape. I believe he's hurting.”
Sankey met Jackson while working on his 1987 video for “Smooth Criminal” and was an associate producer and planned to dance onstage during “This Is It.”
She was testifying at the trial of a negligent hiring lawsuit filed by Jackson’s mother against AEG Live LLC. Katherine Jackson claims AEG failed to properly investigate the doctor who was caring for her son and later administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to the singer in June 2009.
The promoter has denied wrongdoing and its attorneys have said the singer hid his addiction to propofol. Jackson's former physician, Conrad Murray, was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter.
Plaintiff's attorney Brian Panish asked Sankey about one message in which AEG executive Paul Gongaware told Ortega that he planned to talk to Murray.
“We want to remind him that it is AEG, not MJ who is paying his salary,” the message said. “We want him to understand what is expected of him.”
Sankey said she based some of her impressions of Jackson over the years on how he felt when they hugged.
“When I hugged him, he just felt like marble,” Sankey said about Jackson early in his career. “But when I hugged, when I saw him briefly in 2006, he didn’t feel like that anymore. He felt thin.”
On cross-examination, Sankey acknowledged that her impressions were formed from brief interactions with the singer and she never had a long conversation with him.
She was, however, trusted enough to be around Jackson’s children, whose privacy he fiercely protected.
Sankey testified that Paris Jackson once shared a secret, saying she didn’t want her father to find out about candy stuffed inside her purse.
There were also several tiny pictures inside her purse — all of her father.