Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My ABFF Experience: Red Star Filmmaking

Everyone knows good beer compliments great food and great music. And now thanks to Heineken, "the nation's premiere importer," you can add outstanding filmmaking to the list. At the recent 11 th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) the new sponsor extended a figurative toast to South of Pico writer and director, Ernst Gossner, by awarding him its Red Star Award. The four day event was held for the first time in Los Angeles.

Created earlier this year, the Heineken Red Star Award for film recognizes the achievements of the most talented and progressive filmmakers in independent cinema and applauds their passion, creativity, and vision. The award is given at seven select film festivals throughout the year.

Says Heineken Brand Director, Andy Glaser, the award "recognizes originality and innovation in film and is demonstrative of our commitment to supporting and fostering unique film experiences. We are excited to share this award with directors who share our passion for independent thinking and self-achievement."

A man of many talents, the soft spoken Gossner definitely has achieved much in his career. Born in Austria, he graduated from business school there then worked several different jobs--construction worker, bicycle tour guide, and radio station program director to name a few--before pursuing a career in theater. Over 50 stage plays and a few short films later in Europe, Gossner relocated to the states to attend the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. There he created 5 award-winning films before graduated in 2002. South of Pico is his first feature length film.

Literally moments after winning not only the Heineken Red Star Award but also the ABFF Grand Jury Prize for Best Picture, and the award for Best Actor (Henry Simmons), I talked with the stunned filmmaker about what inspired South of Pico and why he felt the film was so well received. Just press play below.



To bring needed publicity to Gossner and all its Red Star Award filmmakers the winners will be profiled in Variety the month after their award announcement. And to give them further exposure, the Independent Film Channel (IFC) will feature video vignettes of the various Heineken award presentations that will run the month after the film festival. The ABFF highlights should air throughout the month of November.

But Heineken's commitment to support talented filmmakers doesn't stop with respected festivals like ABFF. Present and future filmmakers take note! Heineken along with A&E and the Independent Documentary Association provide a $50,000 finishing grant annually to an innovative filmmaker to help "bring their vision to reality." And if that wasn't enough, over the past year the company has also partnered with NYU Stern ProMotion Pictures to grant certain NYU film and business students $25,000-$50,000 to produce films reflecting Heineken's interests.

To learn more about
Heineken Red Star filmmaking visit the company's website by going to Heinekenusa.com. And to get more information about ABFF, festival sponsors, and the ABFF award winners click HERE . Ernest Gossner and South of Pico info can be found by clicking the film's title. Gossner's personal website is http://ernstgossner.com.

My ABFF Experience: A Moment with Lamman Rucker

The man underneath the Gilligan's Island hat needs no introduction here at Hollywood: As I Live and Work. So I'm not going to waste your time explaining how handsome he is, nor how personable, nor how giving of his time he was at the American Black Film Festival with fans, friends, and up-and-coming actors. Naaah!.... I'm not even going to waste space writing about how he made time for little ol' me to get this brief interview when he could have been enjoying other aspects of the festival. However, I will take a moment of your time to tell you how thankful I am that he did.

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My goal to feature interviews with the entire cast of Why Did I Get Married? on this site is now accomplished. THANKS again, Lamman!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

My ABFF Experience: Interesting People, Shawn Carter Peterson

No time to really write! I've got just a few moments before I run to another sponsor related event. Lawd! My feet are on fire! But I'm loving every minute of my festival experience. There's lots to do and lots of beautiful people to see. I even met a filmmaker from Holland and while checking out things in the Lincoln Lounge, I came across a familiar face in the crowd. His name, Shawn Carter Peterson. Occupation? Actor. Click HERE to see him doing his thing on the American Black Film Festival website.

Lincoln Execs! I think he likes this one!



He looks good in it too!




Let's meet him.

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Other pics from the Lincoln Lounge:





Dirty Laundry castmates Rockmond Dunbar & Jenifer Lewis with Director, Maurice Jamal

Friday, October 26, 2007

My American Black Film Festival Experience: Opening Night

From the sandy shores and balmy breezes of Acapulco and Miami, the American Black Film Festival is currently basking in the bright sunshine of Los Angeles this week. For a decade the 4 day film festival has brought together the family of black filmmaking to one location. So "cousins" travel from near and far not only to see great indy movies but also to learn from those that created them.

So what's my role in the this great event? I'm working with several of the sponsors making sure their festival experience goes well. In other words, I'm busy as all get out! Running, smiling, explaining, more smiling, more running, and more explaining. But instead of just writing about my festival experiences and events, I'm going to show you through pictures and sound.

Here's red carpet arrivals of the opening night film This Christmas, Sony's upcoming family drama. The screening took place at the Writer's Guild theater in Beverly Hills, Thursday Oct.25th.

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Kodak is a festival sponsor, so I used their new HD Digital Camera, not a professional video camera to get this footage. Looks pretty good doesn't? Traffic on red carpet was obviously a little hectic, but I loved the energy and the anticipation surrounding the event.


And here are some pics:

Kimberly Elise


Lamman Rucker


First Lady LisaRaye and husband, Michael Misick, Chief Minister of Turks & Caicos islands


Columbus Short being interviewed by BET J hostess

And here he is again! Is he always that cute?

Sharon Leal


Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the film. Duty required I arrive early at the after party. Here are a few pics of celebrity arrivals at the event held at the new Hollywood hot spot, Boulevard 3.


Duane Martin


Toccara and Big Lez

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jermaine Dupri: The Little Big Man in Hip Hop & R&B; Music

If people measured Jermaine Dupri Mauldin a.k.a Jermaine Dupri less by his height, his bling, and of course mega superstar girlfriend and more by his contribution to the world of music then his stature would be immeasurable. To many in the industry he is mentioned in the same breath with music giants Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones. Even No I.D., successful Chi-town music producer for ground-breaking acts like Common and Kanye West, recognizes Dupri's exceptional talents and is learning from them.




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In his new book Young, Rich, and Dangerous, co-authored by Samantha Marshall, Dupri shares with readers the foundation of his musical genius. Pass the velvet rope, beyond the V.I.P curtain, and literally into the dressing room of his life we see a different side of the former breakdancer turned music producer. Notice the book cover pictures him leaning on a dressing room doorway, head down, with hands folded behind his back. Gone is the familiar "party like a rap star" Jermaine showcasing his unique swagger in Hip Hop videos and magazines. Pictured instead is a man, a business man, that appears reflective on what brought him to that room in the first place. "What's my purpose here?" he may be asking, and "Why do I keep coming back?" Turn the book over and now the often "slept on" music producer takes a needed rest, but only briefly because he knows the phone on his lap will ring soon with an important call.

Filled with stories, lessons, and pictures from childhood to adulthood Young, Rich, and Dangerous reads like your favorite Right On or Vibe magazine article. It's very conversational and loaded with recognizable names--Diana Ross, Kriss Kross, Usher, and Mariah Carey to name a few. But it's Dupri's insight about his peers and his experiences with them that makes it interesting. And surprisingly he gets quite personal opening up about his relationship with his daughter and how he became the man Janet is proud to call her lover. Haters read your hearts out!

Despite the book's title there's is nothing dangerous to young or old readers. It's Dupri's discerning ear for what's hot on the streets and keen eye for undiscovered raw talent that makes him a danger, but only to the old guard in the music business--those that run the industry based on Powerpoint presentations instead of what's making booty shake at the club and cars rattle with bass in the hood. But cold starched suits can't keep a creative talent down because Dupri is young, black, and gifted to paraphrase Lorraine Hansberry. And with this book he'll hopefully inspire others to be the same. So now the next time I hear his signature voice shouting, "Y'all know who dis is!" I feel like I can honestly say, I do.

To purchase Young, Rich, and Dangerous click the book cover to the right. And to learn more about the book or J.D. visit SoSoDef's Myspace page by clicking HERE and visit TheMostAccess.com by clicking the link under My Favorite Hollywood Links.

I attended the book signing here in LA at Eso Won Books in Leimert Park, the historic black art district, and actually got a chance to talk briefly to JD. My book was signed, but my request for an interview turned down. Am I mad? No. Disappointed? Yes. But such is life of a not-so-famous entertainment blogger--at least for now. There will be other opportunities, I'm sure of it. So in the meantime here's the next best thing, an interview conducted at a New York signing found on YouTube.

Friday, October 19, 2007

On Air Apology to Janet & Tyler

Truly, I was going to leave the controversy over CBS affiliate CW-13's interview with Janet and Tyler Perry alone. Mainly, I didn't want people watching it repeatedly and getting angrier with every viewing with no resolve. Not to mention the press, though bad, still gave interviewer Mark S. Allen more publicity than he deserved. I certainly didn't want to play into that. But now thanks to Tyler and Janet fans and thousands of others, Hallelu-er!, I can somewhat balance the negative with the positive because a public apology has been made.

Do I believe Allen's apology is sincere? Yes. I believe he sincerely wants to keep his boss happy and that he sincerely wants the email campaign to end. In the clip below it's mentioned the stations email system literally shut down thanks to the onslaught of emails to him and the station manager. In my opinion, if he was truly sorry for being a "jerk" as he said (substitute "asshole" please!) then the apology would have come a lot sooner and without prompting from viewers, the station manager, and most likely CW-13's publicist. A haircut, blue suit, and loosened collar doesn't make his words sound heartfelt to me, just merely rehearsed. Really, how would have Allen felt if during the interview about Why Did I Get Married his unrelated DUI arrest had been thrown in his face by Tyler? Not too good I'm sure.

So to Allen I say this: Throwing stones won't get you promoted to network, anchorman, but it might get you looking over your shoulder more often. Karma baby! Moreover, no one has ever been hit by a nipple and died. Thank God, you were pulled by police before you could accidently hurt anyone. And to Tyler and Janet I say two words: "Strong Enough" or better yet "No Weapon" since today I'm watering my spiritual garden.

Click HERE to see original interview and the apology on TylerPerry.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jill Scott: Opening Night at the House of Blues

In a town where superficiality is always in fashion, singer/actress Jill Scott brought The Real Thing, to a standing room only crowd at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. Rocking a 'fro that would make Angela Davis proud and dressed in a mock Kimono and jeans, the gifted poet turned music sensation greeted the roaring crowd like family sans the hug--all smiles and welcoming, "hello's"

With her band, Fatback Taffy, she hit us first with The Real Thing a head-nodding, rock infused cut just to knock the kinks out of the sound system. When the kinks or in this case, audio feedback, would not stop, Jill took a moment to do a mic check. It was the prettiest mic check I've ever heard. She yodeled! And just to show off her vocal repertoire, she also rapped like an experienced old school MC while performing Breathe. I'm not talking my-first-rap-song-from-grade-school either. Jill spit effortlessly, moving from rapping to singing without missing a beat. Ain't heard or seen that since Lauryn.

Blending in songs from her past albums she refreshed our memories of old hits with new renditions of Long Walk, Golden, and my go-go favorite It's Love. The crowd was grooving, but not as much as I was. Go-Go music is hard to come by on the west coast, so Fatback dropped the beat I reverted to my college pre-dawn party days. Oh, the memories! Then she slowed it down to get her freak, uhmmm, I mean her slow jam on. Of course, she wasn't alone in her Celibacy Blues and thoughts just running Cross My Mind. Fans starting singing the erotic lyrics of the new songs--Crown Royal and Epiphany before she could get the words out of her mouth. Even she was surprised how well the crowd responded to the new stuff. "The album only been out a couple weeks," she said, "and y'all already know the words." That's right Jill! That's what fans do!

The show ended with an abbreviated yet amazing rendition of Lyzel in E Flat. As if singing, rapping, poetry, and yodeling wasn't enough, Jill dipped into her formal training and delivered a beautiful aria that would make even Leontyne Price proud. And with that, she said good night and existed the stage. Sadly, no encore followed.

I've told you all the good, so I'm going to address the bad just to give balance to what I see circulating on the internet about the show. You may have heard that Jill cursed at a member of the crowd during her performance. That is true. However, a concert goer near the stage said something between songs that plucked Jill's nerves because she explained, "I'm 35 years old, you can't tell me what to do." The words that followed from the floor I could not hear but it provoked Jill to tell the individual to "shut the f***k up" and to warn him/her that security would escort them out if they kept talking. Once that was said, Jill went right back into performing and gave us a great show. So, if you read on the internet that Jill cursed out some fans that screamed "I Love You" IT'S NOT TRUE. It did not go down like that! Jill talked to the crowd all night between songs about her music and life as she always does during her concerts. That one brief incident was not reflective of the entire show nor do I believe is reflective of her character in general.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Did I Get Married? Triumphs at Box Office

Click the pic to see a more detailed view!





SOURCE: Box Office Mojo website

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Denise Boutte: Good Girl Gone Bad in WDIGM?

Bad girls stand out says actress Denise Boutte. And in Why Did I Get Married? she definitely draws attention as the back-stabbing Trina. So how did the former Days of Our Lives actress get the role that women love to hate? In our telephone interview we talk about that, how she first met cast mate, Tasha Smith, marriage, spirituality, and a whole lot more.

Part 1.: Auditioning and portraying Trina

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Before acquiring the role of Trina, Denise actually auditioned for Tyler Perry's upcoming comedic project, Meet the Browns. Preparing for that role led to her meeting cast mate Tasha Smith.

Part 2: Cast mates and marriage

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Part 3: Family background, LA Premiere, and her Hollywood story


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Part 4: What's next? and spirituality

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To learn even more about Denise and her upcoming projects, visit her Myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/deniseboutte

Friday, October 12, 2007

The People Have Spoken...WDIGM? Is A Hit!

The verdict is in! A jury of nearly 300 of Tyler Perry's peers have spoken: Why Did I Get Married? is a hit! Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere! And if you can't make it to the mountain, just send a text!

On the eve of the movie's opening day, young and old eagerly poured into Culver City's The Bridge: Cinema De Lux theater for one last pre-screening of the film, co-hosted by BlackNLA, an online resource for what's happening in around the L.A. Metropolitan area.

The most eager movie goers seemed to have had the right idea--arrive early and get in the front of the line. But evidently lots of people had the same thought. An hour before the 7 pm screening more than 200 Tyler Perry fans were lined up around the building like a loose curl, all anxiously waiting to get in the theater. Those with printed BlackNLA movie passes, were rewarded with either film posters or a Why Did I Get Married? church fan. Here's just a few BlackNLA subscribers posing for my camera:







Unfortunately not all that came made it in to see the film, but for those that did it was well worth the wait. The audience LOVED it! And most will have to see it twice 'cause sisters, especially, talked back to the screen like the characters could here them. The crowd cheered, jeered, and even applauded emotional scenes with Sheila (Jill), Patricia (Janet), and Terry (Tyler). Of course, from the moment Angela (Tasha) delivered her first words, the already animated movie goers began squirming in their seats with laughter. As for Mike (Richard T.), Minister Jones please forgive them for they know what what they do in plotting your demise. After your first scene there were boiling pots of grits cooking just for you on the back burners of many women's minds.

Now, today is the day! If nothing else I've written or posted convinces you to run, not walk, to see Why Did I Get Married? hopefully the feedback from those that attended the screening will.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Where The Boys Are in WDIGM!

Though I've managed to feature most of the ladies of Why Did I Get Married, don't think for one second I want to leave the men out. After all the movie is about couples and the men in this film are just as important. Not to mention really great to look at. (Sigh!) Okay, back to reality!

I found these great interviews at Blackfilm.com, a great online resource for interviews, trailers, and reviews of studio and independent films of African-American and general interest. Just click the name under each picture to view the interviews:










There are segments with Janet and Jill Scott at Blackfilm.com. Just click their names to view those interviews.

Janet's Home Video/ WDIGM? Promo

Y'all know who this is! It's Janet in a personalized Why Did I Get Married? promo!





Love the hat, J!

I have to say THANK YOU & a sincere BIG UP! to TheMostAccess.com for permission to use this video. It's so nice to have friends in blogsphere. So y'all check 'em out to get the inside scoop on Hip-Hop, exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews, and to see what's hot on the urban entertainment scene. And just so Hollywood: As I Live and Work stays "on a roll, in control, like Janet, damn it!" I'm adding TheMostAccess to my blogroll.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Ordered Steps of Actress Tasha Smith

To look at us, Tasha Smith and I have nothing in common. She's tall, statuesque even. Simply I'm not. And unlike the extremely close cut of her identical twin sister, Sidra, flowing long tresses frame Tasha's pretty, smiling face. As for me, low maintenance salon-styled locks rule the day. And with her distinctive voice and boundless energy she commands attention in a room without even trying. More often than not I have to announce my presence. Usually, I slip into a room unnoticed, sit in the "cut" and observe just as I did when visiting her acting class.

So just what could a camera-shy blogger and a camera ready actress from Camden, NJ, have in common? The answer surprisingly revealed itself recently during our interview after the L.A. Focus First Ladies High Tea, co-hosted this year by Tasha and her paster, Dr. Beverly "Bam" Crawford of the Bible Enrichment Fellowship International Church. With spirits uplifted thanks to rousing performances by CeCe Winans and Byron Cage, we sat in the limo--the most quiet and convenient place to do an interview when pressed for time--to discussed her faith, her role in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, and T.S.A.W. (pronounced t-saw).

Part 1: Spirituality, Tyler, and playing Angela


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Part 2: Getting to know the girls


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Actress Denise Boutte was not purposely omitted. She and Tasha have worked together before. And in the film her role as the shady outsider eliminates her from "girlfriend" status.


Part 3: The Tasha Smith Actors Workshop


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So what does former T.S.A.W. student and local radio personality, Zenja Stewart, think about Tasha as a teacher and her role in Why Did I Get Married? (She's seated second from the left on the second row in the picture below.)



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And now after this insightful interview, if you are still unsure what Tasha and I have in common, then seek and you shall find in 2 Corinthians 5:7," for we walk by faith, not by sight".


Click here to learn more about The Tasha Smith Actors Workshop.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Angels Watching Over Me

This entry is personal. Though still in the vein of promoting Why Did I Get Married?, it features no glitzy Hollywood event nor celebrity interview. It's about how God works in mysterious ways. Which I believe is an appropriate topic for a blog titled As I Live and Work because without God I could do neither. Here goes:

Last weekend I go to an event downtown to conduct an interview about the film. While lost in the labyrinth hotel, I am led to gospel singer, Byron Cage. He directs me where to go. Several moments later he performs on stage his hit song, "The Presence of the Lord" and everybody joyously sings the chorus: "I can feel the presence of the Lord and I'm gonna get my blessing right now!"

Add to that occurrence signs everywhere advertising The Color Purple on Broadway. While reading an ad, the most popular song from the original film comes to mind. Lyrically it asks God to speak to someone in a special way and then reminds them that God maybe trying to tell them something right now.

Later the interview I was there to conduct goes so well I consider it a blessing. But then trouble finds me when at the parking garage exit a $10 balance is due. I look in my purse and realize my driver's license, atm card, credit cards are all at home in the gym bag I had used that morning. So I am stuck in the parking deck with no form of ID nor any money! Worriedly, I call security on the nearby intercom and explain my predicament. I'm calmly told to go the 7th floor to the office to make a payment arrangement.

The kind man working alone in the office listens to my explanation and then without question gives me $10 worth of validations for free. Immediately I thank him for saving the day and ask his name. "Angel," he says quietly. "My name is Angel."

Friday, October 05, 2007

WDIGM Red Carpet Interviews

Celebrities were open for conversation last night at the LA Premiere of Why Did I Get Married? And hoards of eager press on the red carpet could hardly wait to capture their editable soundbites and perfect poses outside Hollywood's Cinerama Dome on Sunset. It was a media field day but time nor space alloted me the opportunity to talk to everyone I desired to. Oh well, charge that to the game. Yet, I'm blessed in the city and blessed in the field cause I, the petite entertainment writer/blogger standing far left of the mainstream big boys with their fancy cameras and smiling show hosts, still managed to snag a couple of great interviews.

While making his way into the theater I stopped, Why Did I Get Married?'s Co-Producer, Roger Bobb, to talk with a young woman he influenced several years ago to pursue her dreams of a career in entertainment...me!




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Next was one my favorite hit music makers, Jimmy Jam. Just what has this proud "dad" of Flyte Tyme been up to lately?



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Third was former Dreamgirl now ambitious attorney in Why Did I Get Married? actress Sharon Leal.



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And last but not least was the man of the evening, Tyler Perry, and cast member Tasha Smith. You'll be talking about her hilarious scenes long after the film is over.


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Reporters: Reelz Channel & Tanya Hart, American Urban Radio Networks

Why Did I Get Married LA Premiere

Did the ladies run this movie premiere? Oh yeah! In vibrant colors, form fitting gowns, sexy high heeled shoes, and pretty clutch purses to match the ladies definitely ran the show. The fellas on the other hand...umm..not so much. Most came dressed to party in semi-dressy jackets, jeans, and casual shoes. Still, whether dressed up or dressed down, overall everyone looked good, damn good strutting down the carpet. See for yourself!

Denise Boutte

Jimmy Jean-Louis

Rolonda Watts

Lamman Rucker and guests

Michael Jai White and wife

Tasha Smith (r) and twin sister, Sidra Smith (l)

Lance Gross

Janet Jackson

Jill Scott

Sharon Leal

Reuben Cannon, Janet, Tyler Perry

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