Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NBC Nightly News Focuses on Black Women

This is a rare and important moment in television programming. No, there's no glitzy award shows or red carpet appearances, sensational celebrity gossip, nor a perfectly scripted series cliff-hanger to mention. And surprisingly, it's not on PBS!

In case you haven't heard, NBC Nightly News with Brian Phillips has turned its focus on Black women--not famed entertainers--but every day sistas who are just as influential. In a week long series black women are center stage voicing their insights and concerns about education, family, health, and relationships on national television. And we didn't have to wait for Black History Month for once!

The series was not produced to entertain; there's no singing, dancing, cooking, or staged reality show "acting-out". However, the dialogue doesn't get any more real when it comes to black women expressing their thoughts on relationships with black men and interracial dating. Take note, Something New really isn't! And to hear this kind of frank conversation in a network broadcast news setting is refreshing and long overdue, even if it is being aired this week to raise ratings during November sweeps.

Some of what you hear may be surprising, especially concerning the statistics in education, employment, and politics. But more importantly, I hope it motivates and enlightens us about the power we have as women to change the status quo in our lives and in our community. History teaches us we are more than conquerers, and now more than ever as black women we need a conquering spirit to combat all that we know is killing is softly through fear, mis-education, poverty, and depression. The current state of Hip Hop music, in my opinion, merely mirrors this.

The series began Monday and will continue until the end of the week. The response has been phenomenal according to the reporters' blogs and the network appreciates the tons of phone calls, emails, website comments, and blog entries. After viewing the clips of the episodes that have already aired below, please take a minute to join in the discussion at the NBC Nightly News website HERE. But don't stop there! Keep the conversation going through emails, blog entries, phone calls, focus groups, and then be bold in taking some action to broaden your horizons or better your situation.

Lastly, I have to take a minute to give Senior Vice President of NBC News, Mark Whitaker, who came up with the idea, some props. Thank you black man for putting black women on the forefront of America's mind for a whole week. Thanks also go to the series' producers and reporters Mara Schiavocampo and Rehema Ellis. Having worked in news, I know it wasn't easy getting this kind of reporting pitched to predominantly-white male execs, approved, and produced under tight deadlines for primetime. In the past this series probably would have been a minute and thirty second "special report" and aired in the middle of the night, unheard of and unseen by those desiring to view it most.

Still, people are already complaining of it being too short, too anti-black male, too this and too that not realizing how hard it is to get intelligent black folk on camera to talk about anything, especially sensitive subjects. Obviously, Black Women: Where They Stand isn't going to address and solve every problem in the black community, but it does let the world know that we are just as concerned about our community and families as everyone else is about theirs, and no we aren't all looking for solutions at the strip club or through mainstream media. So to the producing team, I say thank you.

Here are links to the reports that have aired already:

Why black women succeed at work
Why black women succeed at work



Redefining black relationships
Redefining black relationships



Love, in black and white
Love, in black and white



Girl talk
Girl talk



More black women taking care of business
More black women taking care of business



Black women and breast cancer
Black women and breast cancer



Experts on black women, cancer
Experts on black women, cancer

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Christmas

Santa baby, slip a bottle of oil, a belt, Columbus Short, and an old-school Soul Train line under the tree, for me! Been a really good girl, Santa baby. May sound crazy, but hurry down the chimney tonight!

Produced by Rainforest Films, the Georgia film company that brought us Stomp The Yard, This Christmas has everything you'd ever want in a holiday movie--drama, humor, great cast, memorable moments, enjoyable music, and plenty of Christmas spirit--all wrapped up in one pretty film with a bow on top. The story centers around the close-knit Whitfield family. And for the first time in several years all the chillun' are home for Christmas, but guess who's coming for dinner?

Obviously, the Whitfield children aren't kids anymore, even the one affectionately called, "Baby" (Chris Brown). As adults they've put away childish things but have picked up some mature issues along the way, some of which have followed them home for Christmas. For Quinton (Idris Elba), the oldest sibling, this is especially true. But he's not alone, sister Lisa (Regina King) is married to her issues and must face a hard reality about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with younger sister, Kelli (Sharon Leal) as the family prepares for the holiday.

Ma Dear Whitfield (Loretta Devine), the family matriarch, loves having all her brood home for Christmas especially prodigal son Quinton, who hasn't been home in 4 years. But his presence also means keeping her relationship with family friend, Joe (Co-Executive Producer Delroy Lindo), a secret. Despite the fact that Father Whitfield left them as children to pursue a music career, Quinton holds strong to his memory and follows in daddy's footsteps. When it appears Baby could potentially do the same, Ma Dear must again face her fears of loosing a son to the uncertainties of fame.

Rounding out the cast is Lauren London, Columbus Short, Keith Robinson, and Laz Alonzo. London is Melanie, the youngest sister and "professional" college student. She brings home for the holiday, new boyfriend Devean (Keith Robinson). Short portrays middle brother and marine, Claude. What he brings home for Christmas is definitely a shock to the family. Pretty boy, Malcolme (Laz Alonzo) is Lisa's husband. He's the perfect example of "what looks good to you, isn't necessarily good for you". This particular Christmas is one he'll remember for the rest of his days.

Notably, co-starring in the film is another Executive Producer, Mekhi Phifer. As a part-time Santa, he keeps an eye and probably both hands on whether Kelli is naughty or nice. But the ebony St. Nick isn't the only one making home visits, Mo, portrayed by rapper turned actor, David Banner, arrives at the Whitfields' to spread a little holiday fear in Quinton. And with the help of his partner, he demonstrates to Quinton why it is better to give than receive.

In the tradition of Soul Food and Madea's Family Reunion, This Christmas will be a classic you're going to want to watch over and over again. Hitting theaters nationwide November 21st, it's a great way to get into the holiday spirit. And right after a good Thanksgiving meal, it's a perfect visual dessert to share with friends and family. So let's do our best to serve it well at the box office and make it #1 this holiday weekend!

Now to get a taste of what young and old are saying about This Christmas hit play below.


video


To learn more about the movie and how to get advance tickets click HERE. While there be sure to check out the podcast with interviews with the cast and downloadable screensavers for you computers by clicking on the yellow sticky.

Hennessy: Flaunt Your Taste!

Picture it! A huge, modern two story mansion tucked away in Beverly Hills stretched along L.A.'s famed Mulholland Drive. Pristine red carpeting lined with velvet ropes pave the way to large glass doors. Above the entrance, a drive-in movie affect displays images of well dressed men and women enjoying a fine time with a fine wine to the the street. And as the elite of Black Hollywood and invited guests step out of shiny European luxury cars and into the Hennessy: Flaunt Your Taste experience for the night, art begins to imitate life.

Once inside press and paparazzi immediately capture celebrity arrivals. And while the celebs handle this business-as-usual element, the party is in full swing just a few feet away: Sexy ladies and gents flirt, mingle and network; Dj Rashida wets musical appetites with a great blend of Hip Hop, R&B, and a little Latin flavor; and the pretty brown Hennessy flows smoothly from bar-side to fireside to poolside and back again without interruption.

Around midnight, former B.D.P. DJ (that's Boogie Down Productions for you Hip Hop challenged) D-Nice turns up the heat on the turn tables and motivates the laid-back Cally crowd to get cracking on the dance floor. Song after song he drops musical bombs like his name is Saddam and appreciative dancers literally scream in delight with every new attack. Myself included! What began as an exclusive mansion party in Beverly Hills now looks and feels like an old school rent party on the dance floor. Fellas are unbuttoning tailored shirts and ladies discard expensive shoes. It's officially a party, y'all! THANK YOU D-NICE!

By 2 a.m breakfast is surprisingly served. Mouth-watering sausage, grits, and biscuits satisfy a hungry crowd before the party comes to a close. An hour later I'm heading for valet thinking this Hennessy: Flaunt Your Taste event was a hit! Great atmosphere, good food and drink, great music, and just enough celebrity presence to make it interesting but not overly "industry". KUDOS! to those handling the event.

Visit Hennessy's website to learn more about upcoming events, cocktails, and the Flaunt Your Taste campaign by clicking HERE:


My celebrity arrivals pics:

Melinda Williams


David Banner


Keith Richardson


B2K and Hennessy representative


Spinderella


Sticky Fingaz

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remember the time when Michael Jackson Did...?

In its last issue of 2007, Ebony pays tribute to the only man on earth who could make black high-water pants, thick white socks, and penny loafers a universal fashion statement. Add a signature blinged out glove and one loose curl that hangs perfectly against the forehead and you've got the image of my first dream "baby daddy". Lawd! I was so in love with Michael.

At a gathering of some friends a few weeks ago, I was hilariously reminded of just how much I missed him. Simply said, from childhood to adulthood MJ was musical truth personified: amazing performances, iconic hits, and spectacular videos that moved the whole visual genre forward. No one could touch him! But there are those, like my friend Jimmy that do a pretty good job impersonating him. Check this video! It's me screaming like a 10 year old in the clip.


video


But Ain't nothing like the real thang! Let's take a trip down memory lane!

Motown 25! A defining moment in MJ history!


Several pairs of sweat socks and linoleum floors later and I too moonwalked with the best of them.


Remember the time when director John Singleton's re-created Ancient Egypt complete with an all star cast! Shame it doesn't get this good anymore.


Do the "Fatima dance"! Right! Left! Right, Left, Right! Now do it with attitude! Awww Yeah! I swear this move never gets old!



Smooth Criminal
live. The lean is absolutely sick!



The man is Bad! The man is Dangerous!


I'm smiling as I watch this! Go 'head, Michael! You da truth! I just fell in love with you all over again!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Micheal Jackson: 25 Years Later And Still A Thriller!

I've been surprisingly running into this man some of everywhere for the past 2 weeks. From film festivals to the radio (which I rarely listen to) then from Myspace to the grocery store. Why is Michael Jackson figuratively following me every where I go? Coincidence? I think not! The next issue of Ebony magazine explains it best.

December 1st marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Thriller, the amazing history making album that held it down as the best selling album of all time for several years until recently the Eagles: Their Greatest Hits took the spot. In an exclusive interview Michael talks candidly with Ebony about the making of the album including working with siblings Janet and Randy, collaborating with legendary Quincy Jones and soulful favorite James Ingram, and how the album's release led to changing the visual landscape of MTV.

"They came right out and said it--they wouldn't play my music. It broke my heart...I refuse to be ignored. So I came up with Thriller and I was always trying to out do myself...But when they played it [Billie Jean] it set the all time record. Then they [MTV] were asking me for everything we had."


Included in the twelve page article is a special Q&A. In it Jackson also talks openly about his creative process, fatherhood, spirituality, and heading back into the studio (HALLELU-ER!).

"The key to being a wonderful writer is not to write. You just get out the way. Leave room for God to walk in the room. And when I write something that I know is right, I get on my knees and say, thank you."

Watch the video for a behind-the-scenes look of the photo shoot that produced the great picture on the cover and inside the magazine. Then Check Ebonyjet.com to get more insights gained by the editors during their time with MJ and more exclusive footage.



I must say MJ looks fabulous in this issue! The hair, the clothes, the lighting--everything. He looks happy and well rested. Applause to hair, makeup, crew and to stylist Phillip Bloch, whom I met a year ago at the My Nappy ROOTS film screening in New York--small world! The white tux and silver themed outfits complemented the article are killer!

Now to bring you up to date on the legendary Thriller album here's some music facts:
  • Best Selling album worldwide, 104 million copies internationally, 54 million domestic
  • Best Selling album in multiple years, 1983 and 1984
  • 122 weeks on Billboard's 100 Chart
  • 37 weeks at No. 1
  • 7 top 10 singles (Billie Jean and were No.1 singles)
  • 7 Grammy Awards
Source: Sony/BMG, RIAA, Billboard, Nielsen Soundscan

And if you ever doubted MJ's impact musically and socially. Watch this!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wyclef Jean: Putting the Music Where His Heart Is

Two nights ago I was blessed with the opportunity to enjoy a private Yahoo! Music performance by a fabulous musician, music producer, performer, and philanthropist. Several chart topping hits ago he told us he would be gone until November. And now true to his word, he's back with a new album and a new look! Ladies and gentlemen give a loud carnival welcome for Wyclef Jean!

From the VIP section, I almost didn't recognize him when he appeared on stage. Gone were the familiar flowing locks and thick beard; in their place, a nearly bald head and a neatly trimmed goatee. Without the hair his prominent eyes stood out in a smiling face of smooth chocolate skin. Donning a black and white jacket and matching white hat he stood on stage looking young enough to still be Blunted on Reality. That's the Fugee's debut album released back in 1994 for those of you that may have forgotten.

Facing the intimate crowd of Yahoo! employees, fans, and other invited guests, Wyclef instantly broke the corporate ice with a brief mix of songs from old albums. Then he introduced the music from the new one, Carnival II: Memoirs of an Immigrant, along with two new artists featured on the album. In no time at all, the once lukewarm audience heated up and began grooving to his unique blend of Hip Hop, reggae, pop, R&B, soca, and other island rhythms. By show's end, we were all caught up in the rhythms of a carnival styled finale complete with masks, led by none other than Wyclef himself standing high above the audience thanks to nearby fans and a studio railing.

The next day he performed at AOL studios in Beverly Hills. While waiting for the shoot to end I hung out in the green room with Wyclef's close knit crew. Relating to one another like the family they genuinely are, the guys effortlessly switched between English, French, and a Haitian dialect joking mercilessly about work, the crew, and personal lives. My two semesters of high school French was hardly any help to catch everything, but I laughed too at what I could understand. Just hearing them speak was a musical experience.

Once the taping was over, I talked one-on-one with Wyclef not just about the new album, Carnival II, but also about what matters most to him, how he relates to young people facing societal challenges, and his new contest for creative bloggers.




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To learn more about Wyclef, Yele, and the contest for bloggers visit Wyclef.com by clicking HERE. A link to his Myspace page is there too. THE ALBUM RELEASE DATE IS DECEMBER 4th. You can preorder it on the right through the Amazon store or just check the 2nd page of my I RECOMMEND widget. Truly, I do recommend this album for anyone that loves different styles of music, real instrumentation, genuine performance, and great lyrical content--all the things that aren't in heavy rotation on radio right now. Really, where else could you find Norah Jones, Shakira, Mary J. and hard core Hip Hop stars Lil' Wayne, Akon, and T.I. all on the same album? Nowhere! So cop Carnival II now or December 4th!

My pics from the show:

Wyclef talking to students from Watts


Performers on Yahoo! Music have the opportunity to express themselves through painting. This is Wyclef's tribute to Haiti.


Merci beaucoup! Wyclef, Charmont, Brian, et mademoiselle Tanya.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Writers Strike Presents Opportunity For Blogger

Since the landscape of television programming may soon become a ghost town, the strike presents a grand opportunity for me and others like me who strive to entertain through our non-televised writing. In other words, if ya ain't watch tv, then you're probably surfing the net. Do you see where I'm going with this!

(Warning! Shameless promotion about to happen!)

People don't wait until the reruns begin and for networks to fool you into thinking you're seeing something new! Now is a great time to catch up on some riveting articles found here at Hollywood: As I Live and Work. No need to channel surf, I got the goods right here. Pictures, videos, interviews, celebs...I gotchu! There's even some drama and adventure on the way. Admittedly, there's no scandalous sex scenes or semi-nudity. A woman has to have some secrets! My mama might be reading this! But I might post somebody else's given the right incentive. Just stay tuned!

Oh! and while you're here gets some Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, birthday, or just because shopping done. "Tis the season"! Books, music, and DVDs make great gifts, but don't stop there. My Amazon stores are open 24/7 and provide some of everything, so shop 'til you can't press "enter" anymore.

No long lines, no money hungry sales associates hustling for commissions and sales quotas, nor is there any fighting with little old ladies for coveted parking spaces closest to the mall or the store of your choice here. Ain't nothing like shopping while sitting in your favorite worn thin pajamas, hair all over your head or tamed by a do-rag. Or for you fellas, during the commercials of the game or taking a break from checking your inbox of that internet dating site. Dude, a simple gift could get you that next date! I speak from experience. So look to the right and start shopping.

They Done Flipped The Script, Literally!

FADE IN:

INT. STUDIO EXECUTIVE OFFICE-DAY


Desperate to write something witty, smart...anything to finish the script of the next episode of "Residuals," executive producer and showrunner, B. N. Trouble, stares worriedly at his computer for a long moment. Then suddenly he grabs the phone nearby and presses the intercom button.


SHOWRUNNER:


All available P.A.'s please report to the writers room and bring lots of coffee! Nope, there's no time to run to Starbucks. We'll send out an executive assistant to do that.

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT (Off Screen)

The hell you will!

SHOWRUNNER


If you haven't heard the writers are on strike, dammit, so somebody's gotta write the cliffhanger to the season finale! And if you've still got a copy of your spec script we used as a door stop last season, bring it. We'll be needing that for November sweeps!

END.


Just as several major fires surrounding Los Angeles have finally been extinguished, a new fire in Hollywood has been stoked that may cost studios several hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few weeks. Writers are hot about not getting their fare share of residuals from DVD and the Internet sales, including downloads and streaming. So members of the Writer's Guild of America put Usher's Let it Burn on repeat and officially went on strike this morning.

The studios saw it coming so many have stockpiled episodes like squirrels storing nuts for winter. But if changes need to be made there will be no one around to respond to the call. In fact, several shows have stopped production entirely because there are no writers on set to make needed last minute changes.

So the best way to see writers at work now is on the news. According to Reuters, "picket lines will be going up at 14 major film and television studios." And since no more talks have been scheduled, it appears these writing strikers will be "at work" a long time. Hope you like summer reruns in the fall and more high-strung reality shows 'cause that's may be all the studios will have to offer if the strikes stretches into the new year.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A New Face of An American Gangster

The Godfather, Scarface, King of New York, New Jack City....mafia movies fans make room for a new addition to your collection...American Gangster. Denzel Washington's portrayal of 70's Harlem gangster, Frank Lucas, is so cold even polar bears reach for their finest chinchilla. Trust me, this performance makes Training Day look like nothing but a rehearsal.

Smoother than gourmet peanut butter, Denzel as Frank Lucas is undoubtedly one of the best cinematic performances of his career. Of course when I learned Lucas was a homeboy from Greensboro, NC, I have to admit I was even more drawn to this role. But then I asked myself, "What exactly are you drawn to?" Lucas was a cold hearted killer, a menace to society, a low down drug dealer, right? So why was I hoping he would escape police, relocate and pursue some legal means of doing business? Maybe because I understood his motivation: be his own boss, have a greater stake in his destiny, and make a way for his family to live comfortably for generations. Ain't that the great American dream? The founding fathers of America's wealthiest families had the same idea. But for a black man to have that kind of mentality pre-Civil Rights Movement and to not only act on it, but to excel pass the competition earned Frank Lucas much respect on the streets and even more enemies.

New York City cop Richie Roberts (Russel Crowe) is the enemy. But is he really? Though he wants to arrest Lucas, it's not his raison d'etre (that's "reason for being" for the foreign language challenged) . Roberts has bigger fish to fry. He's just as motivated as Lucas and beneath the surface these two distinctive men have more in common than what meets the eye. The entire film is an exercise of compare and contrast of their lives, personalities, and personal contradictions.

And for the record, this blogger/writer does not condone Lucas' choice of profession nor its consequences. However, I do respect his tenacity, intelligence, and perseverance to beat the odds against him. Separating the man from his deeds is not easy, nor should it be.

At the recent press conference in NY the producers, director, and members of the cast discuss the film and what it took to bring a new perspective, a new face to the America's definition of gangster.

The Producers: Brian Grazer & Steve Zaillian



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Director and Producer: Ridley Scott




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Denzel Washington & Russel Crowe




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Ruby Dee




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RZA




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Visit American Gangster's website by clicking HERE

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