Monday, January 28, 2008

Erykah Badu's Honey: New Album

Yes! Erykah Badu is baaaaack! Didn'tcha know? Her cypher keeps moving like a rolling stone!



Seems like Erykah's been gone a minute from the music scene? Glad to see her back doing her thing! I absolutely love this new album cover. As the video displayed, the new CD hits stores February 26th. (And yes, that's the same day as Janet's release so prepare to get both is my suggestion.) Click the picture to make it bigger.



Looks like Erykah's coming with an "old skool" Hip Hop vibe. Love the artwork. Check the new video!






And here's a flashback to the joint that set it all off!



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ruby Dee Wins First SAG Award!


CONGRATULATIONS! To the one and only RUBY DEE for winning her 1st Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role for her role as Mama Lucas in American Gangster. Click HERE to listen to her discuss the role in the film and visit SAG's website to read her acceptance speech.

I'm really looking forward to witnessing her receiving an Academy Award. (Just putting it out into the universe!)



Congratulations also to Queen Latifah for winning a second SAG Award for Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In Television Movie or Miniseries for her role as Ana in the HBO film, Life Support. Click HERE to read my review of the poignant film.



And Congrats to Leslie David Baker too for receiving his second SAG Award for Best Performance By An Ensemble in a Comedy Series for his role as Stanley Hudson on The Office.

Despite heavy rains and several power outages, the show was held Sunday at L.A.'s Shrine Auditorium and broadcast live without interruption on networks, TNT & TBS simultaneously. To view a list of all the winners visit SAG's website HERE.


Monday, January 21, 2008

In Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I dedicate my video titled simply, My Black History Tribute.





May we never forget upon whose shoulders we stand.

Susan L. Taylor: It's All About Love

"The ritual of journaling is liberating and healing. It grounds us in our own wisdom and clarity that emerge when we open our hearts and put pen to paper. "

Those are the written words of Susan L. Taylor, the phenomenal woman that for nearly 40 years has personified the soul of Essence magazine. And through the long-time successful African-American publication, she shared her wisdom and opened heart with millions of readers in her popular inspirational monthly column, In the Spirit. She also authored three books similarly themed.


In her newest work she has collected and reworked some of her and Essence's readers' favorite In the Spirit articles into one book titled All About Love. Here's another excerpt:

"When your on a mission of value, God gives you a special blessing. You are divinely guided. You're surrounded at the highest spiritual level with an aura of protection that disarms any enemy and attracts all you need to succeed."

Possibly with that passage in mind, Taylor announced late last year she was stepping down as Essence's publication director to pursue a different mission close to her heart, her non-profit organization called the National Cares Mentoring Movement. Its mission: "to recruit more than one million mentors for our vulnerable youth." In a brief interview she shares with me more about it's purpose and her thoughts on Essence's longevity.


music player


Click HERE to get more information about how to get involved.

Last Saturday I attended Taylor's All About Love book signing at Esowon Books in Los Angeles. Standing before a growing, eager crowd with her signature cornrows flowing back from her prominent forehead and behind ears adorned with what appeared to be Oprah's Legend Ball Luncheon earrings, Taylor addressed the adoring crowd of men and women like a concerned African queen with an important message for her people. Watch the video and listen carefully!


video


All About Love
will be available in stores January 29th. Pre-order your copy at a 5% discount by clicking HERE


Pictures from the event:










Friday, January 18, 2008

Steve Harvery: He's Fly And He Knows it!

I think Teena Marie said it best...."Ooooh Weee!". There's just something about a bald headed brotha, dressed well in a tailored suit who smells as good as he looks, with a southern charm, a sexy smile, and a walk that says, "I'm royalty" that's gets my attention errtime. Hip Hop calls it "swagger"; I call it, "Hey, Big Daddy!"

Steve Harvey is one of those men that commands attention when he enters the room without saying one funny word. The suits, matching shoes, belts, hats, and bags...He and his entourage put the "C" in coordinated (Remember that hilarious scene from Boomerang?). But now gone is the perfectly trimmed "stay soft fro" we had grown accustomed to seeing. In 2008, Steve has let his hair down literally by cutting it all off.


Check the upcoming issue of Jet magazine for the insightful interview with the King of Comedy and top rated morning radio show host about the new look, recently turning 51, and his new outlook for staying healthy and fly.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Great Debaters

I'm a little late with this one. (Prepare for a great excuse...I mean rationalization) But then again maybe not, not everyone that needs to see this important film--in a theater, not on a bootleg DVD--has done so.

RESOLVED!

The Great Debaters should have been released in January or February, not December. With so much hoopla over Will Smith combating alien-like creatures again, animated singing tree dwellers making a career comeback, and killer monsters annihilating each other in a sci-fi battle flick, this period film about a black debate team in the 1930's did not get the attention it deserved at the theater. In fact, it didn't even rank in the top 10 at the box office opening night.

Understanding the desire for Academy Award consideration, I realize certain steps were probably taken. However, I still believe The Great Debaters should have been released early 2008, tying into the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and Black History Month. And it also should have been released to more theaters. According to Yahoo Movies, the film opened to only 1171 theaters nationwide. Since then more screens have been added but I think the effort is too little, too late.

So why is this film so important for everyone to see, not just black folk? Because, the more you learn about American history the more you realize we've all been lied to. American history as we know it is exactly that, HIS story. And the writers of the text have conducted the best PR campaign known to man in promoting himself as the smartest, the prettiest, and the best at everything. Thus, films like The Great Debaters help tilt the unbalanced historical scale.

Secondly, this particular film is also very important because it tells the story of a team of W.E.B. Dubois' "Talented 10th". In the movie bright and eager students use their intellect not musical or athletic abilities to score against Jim Crow beliefs. Think back, many of the films we've seen in the past few years (Pride, Road to Glory, The Titans) have used sports events as the battlefield against racism and I applaud that. But to see a group of determined young students from an underestimated black college use books, research, oration, and strategic thinking to dispel myths of superiority moves me to a standing ovation.

And why is this film so relevant to this "download nation"? Because they as well as everybody need to get an understanding or better yet an appreciation of how things were before computers and how things came to be. Moreover, still too prevalent in our community is the notion that being articulate, quoting Langston Hughes, and setting a standard for yourself above that of your peers is somehow acting "white" or reversely wearing your pants below your butt, saying "wassup nigga", and ending sentences with "girlfriend" and a high five is acting "black". Debaters gives young people a different perspective without being preachy or heavy handed.

The writer in me wants to say more, but the internal blogger realizes this is going to appear too long and turn away some readers. So go see The Great Debaters , especially with age appropriate young people, then discuss it. Sometimes the best learning experiences do not occur in the classroom but on the drive home. You'll understand that better when you see the movie.

See interviews with the REAL Great Debators by clicking the picture below. Then visit the video section of the website.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jill Scott Designs Ashley Stewart Collection

Jill Scott is not just singing about living life like it's golden, she's actually doing it. She sings, she acts, writes, receives awards and praise, "stains and polyurethanes" but I bet most didn't know she now designs lingerie too.

In a joint venture between her company, J. Heather Inc., and Ashley Stewart Stores, the Grammy winning performer will co-design a brand of intimate apparel for plus-sized women with the company called The Butterfly Collection by Jill Scott. Her Butterfly bra, in particular, will probably gain much attention, especially for those ladies carrying a lot of extra alphabets on their chest. And I'm not talking sorority letters here people!

According to Monday's press release, the bra and other apparel are all inspired by Jill's personal experiences as a consumer. Like many full figured women she couldn't find a "design that was both comfortable and attractive for females with a larger than average cup size." So to create what she wanted, Jill partnered with Ashely Stewart Stores who sold her recent CD, The Real Thing in stores as part of a non-traditional marketing campaign.

And as Jill helps give under-served women a much needed "lift", she'll also be supporting college bound students 16-21 artistically and academically through her non profit Blues Babe Foundation and her new Ashley Stewart venture. Look for posters in stores soon as Jill's Real Thing U.S. tour gears up. To find out tour dates visit her website here by clicking www.jillscott.com.

First Peek at Jill Scott's No.1 Detective Agency

Shout out to Blackfilm.com for emailing this to me!

Y'all already know I'm a huge fan of Jill Scott. Whether it's her music, acting, poetry, or performances I'm there. That said, I'm really looking forward to her lead role in this new film, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency shot entirely in Botswana.

For those of us willing to admit we don't know all that we should about the African continent, Botswana is located right above South Africa. Check the map HERE.

The film is based on a series of eight novels by Rhodesian author Alexander McCall Smith. In them he tells the adventurous stories of Precious Ramotswe (RAH-moats-way), Botswana's proprietor of the first female-owned detective agency. I'm envisioning an African Angela Lansbury from tv series, Murder She Wrote. I loved that show! This film adaptation of the books is directed and written by Anthony Minghella, the same screenwriter and director of Cold Mountain and The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Also in the cast is the almost forgotten Dreamgirl, Anika Noni Rose, This Christmas' Idris Elba, and African talents, John Kani, Desmond Dube, Lucian Msamati, and Nikki Amuka-Bird.

In the video below get one of the first looks of Jill and the cast on location in Botswana before the film hits screens hopefully sometime this year. But According to AOL Black Voices, it won't have rush to theatres. The BBC will air the film, and depending on it's success may turn it into a series.




And check out this behind-the-scenes footage I found on YouTube from the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency's production office in Botswana. I really want one of the hoodies shown. Besides a paycheck, I love collecting quality S.W.A.G (Stuff We All Get) after a production even if I didn't work on it.



Here are photos from the set. IMDb doesn't even have these yet! A click makes them bigger.







Tuesday, January 15, 2008

NAACP Image Awards: The Show Will Go On

This just in....okay not really, but this is warm off the presses from earlier today. It's official, the 39th Annual NAACP Image Awards will go on as scheduled. WHEW! I might actually get to cover an award show red carpet after all.

According to Entertainment Weekly.com, the traditional award show highlighting African-American achievements in television and film has been granted a waiver from the Writers Guild of America to hire writers to script the show. This also means no picketing will occur outside the show which will be taped at the Shrine Auditorium.

"The Guild examines each request like this individually and no decision is easy," said WGA West president Patric Verrone. "Our ultimate goal is to resolve this strike by achieving a good contract. Because of the historic role the NAACP has played in struggles like ours, we think this decision is appropriate to jointly achieve our goals."

The show airs live on Fox February 14th. Visit www.naacpimageawards.net for nominees.

Oprah Gets Her OWN

Calling all Oprah fans! If the award winning daily television talk show, a popular YouTube channel, the successful magazine, the heavy trafficked website, and an equally successful satellite radio show is not enough, then you'll soon get to view Oprah all day long until you too obtain the Midas touch.

In 2009, her new television network appropriately named OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network)-- Coincidence! I think not! Some things are just fated--will hit airwaves across the country to help loyal fans "live their best lives".

"Fifteen years ago, I wrote in my journal that one day I would create a television network, as I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold," said Winfrey about the new venture.

Discovery Communications and the queen of talk show announced the deal today. In the negotiation, Winfrey will take over the Discovery Health Network, revamp the channel, and broadcast programming of her choosing under its new name, OWN. Programming will probably include reruns of the Oprah show, Harpo movies, as well as programming from her regular contributors.

Owned jointly by both Harpo Productions and Discovery, the network will debut in more than 70 million homes with Discovery handling distribution and operations and Oprah concentrating on programming.

Either way you look at it, the network already looks like a winner: OWN, NOW, WON

Source: Reuters.com

Janet's New Album Cover



Y'ALL KNOW WHO THIS IS! It's JANET of course and this is the cover of her new album, Discipline, scheduled for release February 26th! Now we've got one more reason to give her "Feedback" this month. The new single from the upcoming album, Discipline is available on Itunes. Want to hear it, check my previous posts.

So just how did Janet come up with the name of the album? In an interview posted on Island Def Jam's website she states:

"In putting Discipline out front-- as both the title of the album and title of a song about sexual surrender--I wanted to announce that I was venturing into new creative waters. That meant working with producers like Jermaine Dupri, Rodney Jerkins, and Ne-Yo, whose songs spoke to the immediacy of my emotions. Like all my records, this one, whether intentional or not, has autobiographical roots. It's difficult for me to work any other way. I don't feel it, if I don't believe it, I can't sing it. "

..."When L.A. Reid, Chairman of Island Def Jam, and I discussed co-executive producing this record, we both agreed that the feeling had to be adventuresome and fresh. I was interested in exploring musical scenarios--some exotic, many erotic, but all deeply emotional. I wanted to push the envelope. And I'm glad that 'Discipline,' both as a song and an album, does just that."


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Writers "Strike" Again at 2008 Golden Globe Awards

And the award goes to.....(Drum roll, please!)...The Writers Guild of America for best depiction of how an organized strike can impact a local economy. First it was the People's Choice Awards and tonight the traditional glitzy Golden Globe Awards banquet was reduced to a dry-as-toast press conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Both The Hollywood Foreign Press and the network contracted to air the show took a financial hit, but so did all the related businesses related to the event--party planners, gift bag creators, dress designers, security companies, and limo companies--just too name a few. Click the following picture to see a report from CNN News on just how the strike affects the entertainment industry economically.




So without a single A-list celebrity in the house, who made the announcements? Hollywood Foreign Press President, Jorge Camara, and local entertainment reporters did to a room full of press and a few other attendees. Obviously, there wasn't much to shoot but a podium and a display screen, easy money for the greenist videographer. Dude, set the camera on a wide shot and lock it down, this is gonna be a cakewalk of a shoot!


Jorge Camara


Lara Spencer, Jorge Camara, Brooke Anderson, Jim Moret, Guiliana Rancic, Dayna Devon, Mary Hart (Where's Shaun Robinson?)


Press Attendees


So what does this mean for 2008's award show season? Well, it's too early to really tell. There's still some small hope The Academy Awards will air as usual with all it's celebrity fan fare, but I'm not betting on it. And if the Academy of Motion Pictures is worried, then you can just image how the producers of the Screen Actors Guild, the Grammy's and the NAACP Image Awards are feeling. Hope they have a plan B script ready for production!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Common Raps Spiritual in 2008

I just had to post this!




Obviously, some folk prefer to start the new year on a more spiritual note, including myself. I came across the video on Kanye West's blog and couldn't resist posting it here. I LOVE it! Goes to prove---and I know I'm gonna raise some eyebrows with this---a person can be sexy as well as spiritual. To me, Common is both based on what little I know about him and the 30 or so minutes we spent together backstage at the 2006 Grammy Awards.

That year, he received four Grammy nomination for his album, Be, produced by Kanye. Trying to keep it professional, all I could do was stare longingly in secret and do the job I was assigned to do--get him credentialed then down the red carpet (actually green that year) and into his seat before the show started. He was handsomely dressed in a white suit for the show that was almost ruined by a casual embrace with a woman that left makeup on the collar of his suit. Luckily, his stylist somehow magically removed the smudge before it stained and messed up his red carpet pictures




This year he's nominated for 3 awards from his album, Finding Forever.. And in case you didn't know, he has his own line of hats called Sojihats. Check them out HERE. I like this one!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Janet's Gone Intergalactic in New Feedback Video

Miss Janet's set the internet ablaze again with her new video, playing exclusively on Yahoo Music. Here ya go!





Mmmmm! It's like Eartha Kitt's Cat Woman meets Scream, the video she did with Michael, with a hint of Runaway, the one she did traveling the world by leaps and bounds. As far as the milk goes, I'm a simple lactose intolerant Earth girl so its metaphor or symbolism eludes me right now. But then again, maybe there isn't one. So do I like your style? Yeah J that's sexy, sexy, especially the end. The red cat suit is sick! Lawd, I gotta hit the gym!

If you really want to give Janet the feedback she's asking for then visit her MySpace channel, Destination Discipline by clicking HERE. Enter her video contest. She's giving fans a chance to get creative by producing and posting their own Feedback video. Producers of the top 10 most viewed videos get an Ipod programmed with her music and videos. Ain't no telling what kind of craziness will be posted!

Well, maybe I'll get out of my comfort zone and enter a little something. Where my girls at? Let's show these young 'uns a thang or two. 5-4-3-2-1, Gimme a beat!. We can do it old skool...rent a smoke machine and some red lights, pull our step team silk jackets and red boots from the back of our closets, grab some glow in the dark canes, and rip it! Let's stomp da yard like we used to. Of course, some of us will need a few mixed drinks, an ethyl alcohol/ Aspercreme rubdown before and after the shoot, and a few oxygen machines, but it's doable. Holla at cha girl!

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Year Brings New Outlook

This one's personal.

2008 is in full swing! Whoopee! And if you're reading this post it means we both made it into a new year. THANK GOD! If you're not into giving God the credit, then do you boo! But as for me and my blog, we shall praise da Lord! Hallelu-er!

Now with a new year comes a new outlook. My mantra for 2008 is this:
My desire to succeed will be greater than the fear of failure.

I recently read that in a spiritual self-help book and it stuck with me. As I reflected over the past five years or so, I realized that I had done just the opposite. And I'm not alone. The paralyzing fear of ridicule, not measuring up, or not meeting someone else's standard of success has kept many of us from pursuing our dreams. As a result, we've watched somebody else dance in the sunshine with our blessing while we sat in the shade choking on haterade. Sorry for the unintentional weak rhyme, but you get my point.

People, in '08 don't waste any time hatin' on folk doing what you were scared to do! If you missed your blessing in 2007 that's YOUR fault not theirs. Let it go, move on and will yourself to do better next time; turn hateration into motivation. Dang it! I did that rhyme thing again.

Looking back, the best lesson I learned last year was to think and speak more positively about situations, i.e. see the cup as half full as opposed to half empty. It took some training but I've gotten better thanks to this book called The Laws of Thinking by Bishop E. Bernard Jordan.



I literally stumbled upon this book trying to find Jermaine Dupri's Young, Rich, & Dangerous at a bookstore at the mall. Ever felt like someone was talking about you but wouldn't say your name? That's exactly how I felt after a few pages. But I put it back because I was there for something else. Eso-Won Books was my next stop. Dupri's book wasn't there yet, but The Laws of Thinking was staring right at me from the counter. I swear it called me, but again I tried to ignore it by browsing the store's shelves. Long story short, I finally purchased it and what a literal blessing it has been. If you're determined to do things differently in '08 then I suggest reading it.

So now with a new mindset I'm going into this new year stronger, wiser, better, and without fear of failure. I suggest you do the same. I'm gone do the dang thang without putting hurdles in my own path; there are enough forces doing that already that don't need my help. It's new day, a new beginning! I think therefore I am! Thus, I think I'm the Heavy Weight Blogger Of The World! In my mind I'm the Laila Ali of blogsphere with the title belt securely around my waist. The only one left to fight is my negative self. And it WILL NOT win!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 A Blogger Was Born

So long 2007! Most things considered, you were a pretty good year. A lot of great new people came into my life and Hollywood: As I Live & Work was born. Here are some other highlights:

Attending my first NBA All Star Weekend. Vegas was the place to be. Though I was a newbie at the event, I was no novice at partying. Lawd! I hadn't seen that many young black folk descend on a city since ATL's Freaknik '94. Search the February 2007 archives for the details. The most fun was had just hanging out with LaQuita (her name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. LOL). Watch the clip of us cruising through downtown Vegas and commenting on the "goings-on" outside a party.


video


We are SO country! LOL!



Witnessing the documentary, My Nappy ROOTs, that I associate produced earn the Festival Choice Best Documentary Award at the Pan African Film Festival. Click the title above or go to www.myspace.com/mynappyroots


Getting to know actress, stand up comedienne, author, just all around amazing woman by the name of Suzanne Whang thanks to associate producing, HGTV's House Hunters. Here's some Hollywood insider news! Lean closer to the monitor. It was Suzanne that introduced The Secret to Oprah Winfrey then later to me. THANK YOU Suzanne! I'll have her tell that story in an interview hopefully early 2008. In the meantime, visit her myspace by clicking HERE.


Taking writing and blogging seriously after my stint at House Hunters ended. But the underlying reason for starting this blog around February/March was truly in response to all the human and computer rejected resumes sent to E!, entertainment job boards, and other employment resources for lack of "key words" or experience. Ironically, the jobs I applied for all required the same skills needed to create this blog. And based on the feeback I'm getting, I'm doing it, and doing it, and doing it well, and getting better all the time. Hmmm, maybe I'm meant use my talents for my own media outlet. Lawd, what a revelation!

And while I'm thinking about covering events and film, I want to say a special thanks to Wendy, Roz, Joseph, and Wyllisa for inviting me, an unknown face and name, "in" to their worlds and providing me great people, films, and events to blog about. Y'all know how hard it is to break in here, especially when you're a newcomer to a certain field. They were the first to invite Hollywood: As I Live & Work to anything and for that I'm truly grateful.

Working the press junket for Talk to Me. When highly respected veteran actor, Martin Sheen, kept giving me "a look" during the interview, I was certainly surprised. Read the post in the July archives to see why I thought this married Hollywood actor was flirting with me. It's kind of funny.

Interviewing one of my favorite authors, Eric Jerome Dickey, was definitely a highlight. Check the August archives for that one.

Of all the movies I've written about in 2007, Why Did I Get Married? was undoubtedly my favorite. I was so excited about this film; there was a little bit of me in every female character. And after seeing the screening, I was inspired to dedicate the blog to help promote it to #1 opening weekend. Truly, I was on a mission and not 'cause Tyler or the studio asked, but because I was moved to do so. I interviewed as much of the cast I could and posted interviews from other sites with permission. That October was definitely busy. Look to your right to see just how busy that month was for me.

October also provided the great opportunity of working on the sponsorship team of the American Black Film Festival. I've worked plenty of festivals, but this one....wow! I was so busy I barely had time to blog, but I managed a couple of entries about the experience. See the archives for interviews with Lamman Rucker of Why Did I Get Married? and familiar commercial actor, Shawn Carter Peterson. I swear Shawn is in heavy rotation between network television shows. Just click Lamman's and Shawn's names to visit their websites.

Interviewing Wyclef Jean after his performance at AOL was such a special privilege. I so love how he uses his music to give back not just to his fans but to people around the world. And no, I didn't ask about Lauryn. Why? Because I knew he was probably tired of the question. So the interview was about him and him alone. Hear it in the November posts.

And last but not least my first, Norwood Young celebrity house party. Norwood is famous for his parties as most knew already. I had an absolutely great time and Norwood was truly a pleasure to meet. See the pics and hear the interviews in the December archives.

That's it! I never would have thought blogging/writing would open doors of opportunity for me like it has. Over a hundred posts and I'm feeling no ways tired. Now on to a new year, new posts, and a new outlook.

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