Saturday, May 31, 2008

Meet Bianca Bethune: More Than Just A P.Y.T.

video



That's new music artist Bianca Bethune.  Young, pretty, talented, and personable. She's such a "P. Y. T.". But when Michael Jackson sang about pretty, young, thangs in the 80's Bethune had not been born. And I'm willing to bet MJ's version probably wasn't as focused and driven as this one, born February 02, 1990, in "Small Town", New Jersey.

Even before relocating to Los Angeles, Bethune was ahead of the game building an impressive resume which includes modeling, acting and performing before thousands as a member of the dance team for the NY Knicks, NY Liberty, and the New Jersey Nets at the age of 12; training at the prestigious Broadway Dance Theater and Geoffrey Ballet NYC, and earning a scholarship to Debbie Allen's Dance Academy thanks to her tap dancing. Without a doubt, she's got the all the right moves and by the age of 13, she landed her first major film role, as Martin Lawrence's daughter in Bad Boys II.


Now at 18 Bethune is stepping out front with a new project, her very own CD simply titled, "Only Me". The first single, "Recipe of Love" was released May 29th and the full CD will be released in July on independent label, BatiR Entertainment. After this video montage, get to know this new artist as she talks with me at Paramount Recording Studios about her family, being a "triple threat", breaking new ground as an artist, and of course, "girly" stuff like boys, senior proms, and shopping. Just press play on the iphone widget.







Be sure to visit www.biancabethune.com for album release updates, pictures, contact info, and Bethune's personal blog. Get your copy of "Recipe of Love" now through Amazon.com.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Publicist Roz Stevenson: In Her Own Words

How often in life do you notice a person's hands? Probably not often unless those hands possess or do something special. That said, the lovely hands of film and entertainment publicist, Rosalind "Roz" Stevenson, are definitely worthy of mention. But it's not because of unique markings, bling, nor the pretty manicured nails. No, the hands of the former actress and professional hand model are distinctive because of the outstanding work they've done in entertainment and the many lives they've touched positively along the way.

Last year, in a room a buzz with inquisitive reporters and celebrity interview anticipation, it was actually Roz's mere presence that first drew my attention. "Who is this African-American woman sitting calmly amongst the young'uns greeting "her people"?" I didn't have to wonder long. After receiving a short summary of her background, an even briefer introduction was made. Roz Stevenson was the reason we, the African-American press, were there to help promote Universal Studios' new film. And for more than 20 years, she had worked diligently ensuring we were not left out of the equation of Hollywood's film promotion and publicity campaigns.

Unfortunately, May 30, 2008, will mark the end of a Roz's story in publicity and begin her new chapter in career retirement. But before the credits roll on her Hollywood story, I asked Roz to talk with me about how it all began. In this candid and humorous interview conducted in her home, Roz reflects on her amazing career and the people and the experiences that impacted it. Prepare to laugh, to be enlightened, and inspired.

Roz Stevenson: In Her Own Words:


MusicPlaylist



A personal message from Hollywood: As I Live & Work



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of Crystal Skull

It's been a while since Harrison Ford dawned Indy's dusty Fedora and signature whip--nearly two decades in fact. But Indiana Jones fans you needn't worry! Although Ford maybe old enough to get a senior citizen discount to see his own movie, he's not escaping peril or villainous world dominators by flashing an AARP card in this new Spielberg-Lucas installment, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Yes, Harrison is older, but Indy's still got it--that certain swagger we expect of a legendary hero; even his hat is iconic. It makes an entrance in the film before he does and for a moment I was reminded of Micheal Jackson's famous fedora in the Billie Jean music video. And now that I think about it, if MJ can make a brief comeback with a revamped "thriller" why can't HF?

In Skull we're taken back to 1957, to the backdrops of "Happy Days" and "Grease". And nothing represents the blast from the past more than Shia LeBeouf as Mutt Williams, a Fonz-slash-James Dean incarnation complete with leather jacket, cool motorcycle, and hair that never moves but is always ready to be combed. Aaaayyyyy! He's undoubtedly a young reflection of Indy and the two work well together. And by movie's end there's a hint Indy may be ready to pass on the proverbial dusty hat and whip to the next generation.

Like most action adventures the film starts off "running." Indy and his British buddy, Mac (Ray Winstone), have been kidnapped by the Russians to help them find what the U.S. government has been hiding in a desert hanger for several years. Think Roswell's Hanger 54 and Close Encounters and you'll get the picture?

Of course, after escaping the Russians Indy returns to his full time job as college professor of archaeology at Marshall College. There Mutt introduces himself to Indy and informs him that a mutual friend and colleague has been kidnapped along with this mother while on quest to find the Crystal Skull of Akator. According to legend, the skull has special powers and was stolen from the Amazon's mythical City of Gold. Whoever returns it to it's rightful owner receives control over it's powers, which is why the Russians want it. To help locate the City and her whereabouts, Mutt's mother managed to send him a coded letter that only Indy can decifer.

Although the skull looks like a big, cumbersome flash bulb, it holds the key to unlimited knowledge once possessed by super intelligent crystal creatures that inhabited the earth centuries before. And too look at it you would never guess that it's a great bug repellent too! But if the skull reveals all it knows to you, it may have to kill you. Just ask the Russian female Stalin-esque leader, Irena Spalko (Cate Blanchette). She finds out the hard way, it's not good to know everything.

Overall, Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls was everything I expected to be--action packed with long chase scenes, plenty of stunts and special effects, and elements of humor. Calling it predictable may be a little harsh, but if the fedora fits wear it. On the other hand, sometimes being unsurprising is good. At least you know you're getting exactly what you're paying for and Indy definitely delivers the goods.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Victoria Rowell's High Tea at Noon for Fostercare

It is often customary to remove your hat when entering a building, especially for men. But Sunday, at Victoria Rowell's annual High Tea at Noon fundraiser, an eye-catching hat appeared to be the price of admission. From elaborate church ladies' favorites to simply brimmed chapeaux, hats were definitely the talk of the room.

But on a more serious note, hats were also a creative reminder of why we were really at the Beverly Hills Hotel on a beautiful Sunday morning instead of our usual weekend escapism--to raise funds for foster children. Throughout the year the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan (RFCPP) provides mentorship and hands-on assistance to youth in foster care, giving them greater opportunities to lead full and productive lives as adults.

And to help Victoria raise awareness and the money these kids really need, she invites her friends, associates, and corporate sponsors to join her each year for a spot of tea and a fun filled afternoon of fundraising. Here are some highlights from this year's event:

The Hat Show:





The hats were designed by Patricia Underwood and underneath her creations were some recognizable faces: Ambassador Attalah Shabazz, Cookie Johnson, actresses Brenda Epperson (The Young and the Restless), Diane Amos (the Pine Sol lady) and Journee Smollet (The Great Debators), choreographer, Fatima, and R&B singer, Kenny Latimore.

Captain Barrington Irving's Acceptance Speech:



Captain Irving was presented the Soars to Inspire Award by famed actress, Angela Basset. At the age of 23, Irving is the youngest and first-ever African American to fly solo around the world. To learn more about Barrington visit his site at http://www.experienceaviation.org and his blog chronicling his amazing flight HERE


Stephanie Mills Performance:


And last but definitely not least, the award-winning vocal powerhouse, Stephanie Mills, sang the crowd favorite, Home.

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Also at the event Academy Award winner, Morgan Freeman and his wife, Myrna Colley Lee, received the Agatha Award, named after Rowell's primary foster mother, Agatha C. Wooten Armstead. Unfortunately, Morgan was not present.

To learn more about the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan (RFCPP) visit it's website here at http://www.rowellfosterchildren.org. And if you liked this year's hat show, check out my coverage of last year's event HERE.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Victoria Rowell Is Getting Married!

Breaking Hollywood News:

Foster children are not the only ones receiving the special attention of versatile actress and NY Times best selling author, Victoria Rowell, these days! Today at her annual High Tea at Noon fundraiser for foster children at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Rowell informed Hollywood As I Live and Work her engagement to acclaimed Atlanta artist, Radcliffe Bailey.


A mixed media artist, Bailey utilizes different elements including photography and various found objects to capture the essence of African Americans history and culture. One Atlanta art critic described his work this way: "With one foot firmly planted in self-knowledge and the history of painting, he steps out."

And another reviewer had this to say: "Like sampling in hip music, which takes bits and pieces of different recordings to construct new sounds, Bailey creates "real time" within old space."

See examples and full reviews of Bailey's great artwork at these sites:

Radcliffe Bailey #1

Radcliffe Bailey #2

Radcliffe Bailey #3


And come back real soon for red carpet interviews and highlights from the celebrity hat show featuring actress Journee Smollett (The Great Debators ), Ambassador Attalah Shabazz, and singers, Kenny Lattimore and Stephanie Mills.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Miss Janet! (Tour Update)

In honor of one of my favorite entertainers I'm going to take a moment and reflect on why this dynamic woman is STILL fabulous at 42. You young 'uns take note and for you old heads here's a flashback. These are a few my favorites. ENJOY!:

If: The hair, the sexy moves, the lyrics. Yeah, J had come into her own.




Again: The Academy Award nominated song for Poetic Justice. Gary Dourdan (Shahzah) is so damn fine in this video...His eyes, hair, and gorgeous body! And Tupac, another fine brotha! We still miss your genius, Pac!




Got 'Til It's Gone: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS VIDEO!




Would You Mind?: I love it when a woman ain't scared to do her thang and Janet is definitely a crowd pleaser. LOL. This makes "a pole in the basement" look like child play!




UPDATE: ONCE AGAIN IT'S ON!

Remember when Janet said, "I promise I'll be worth the wait?" Well, we've been singing "Let's Wait A While" for seven years and at long last the wait is over! Amen! Our time has come to rejoice, a new tour agenda is due! September 10th, in Vancouver, Janet kicks off her Rock With You tour! Dat's Wassup! Want proof! Roll this beautiful Janet tour announcement footage! Tickets on sale June 7.



THANKS JD!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Actress Tasha Smith: A Purpose Driven Life

Last year I was blessed with the opportunity to interview actress Tasha Smith to help promote Why Did I Get Married? You can read it HERE. But what occurred in that limo was not merely an interview about her outstanding role but a real experience with a woman who has discovered her Divine purpose.

In this candid interview with Essence.com Tasha shares her journey-- better yet, her testimony--in evolving from high school drop out and drug addict to the beautiful, multi-talented performer we've come to know on television and film. It also mentions the hard days early in her career, becoming a stripper, and her stint as a stand up comedian. Below is an excerpt. In it she mentions how fellow actress, Tisha Campbell, helped lay the foundation of her career in Hollywood.

Back then, in 1987, I was friends with actor Allen Payne, who was from my area. He was dating the actress Tisha Campbell Martin—this was way before she got married and starred in the sitcom My Wife and Kids. I can see now that God put Tisha in my life to encourage my dream of becoming an actress. Tisha would always say, “You don’t belong out there.” She was part of the reason I moved to California when I was 18. She and her mom found me an apartment, bought me a little car, and would come over with groceries. People thought I was crazy to move to Hollywood, but Tisha and her mom believed in me.


Really, this is a great interview and though I knew some of her phenomenal story already, reading it really empowers me to stay on task and keep striving, keep pushing. Here's my favorite part:

Now I realize I just had to discover faith for myself. I found a sense of freedom in my relationship with God—the freedom to be beautiful and sexy and have purpose in life. Slowly I began to see God had been there guiding and protecting me all along. I’m convinced my life changed when I surrendered it to God.


For all my friends, associates, and readers "going through" and facing challenges right now, I dedicate this to you. Read the full interview HERE. And while you're there click on the homepage to view the behind-the-scenes cover photo shoot with 3 more of my favorite "inspirations"-Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, and Alicia Keys. All of which are performing at this year's Essence Music Festival, July 4-6th in New Orleans. Visit www.essence.com


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Alicia Keys Knows Her Worth

Slowly but surely, I'm becoming a big Alicia Keys fan. I realize for some that might be a surprising statement, but it's true. Yes, at the start of her celebrity, I liked some of her songs and videos, but it wasn't until recently that I really took notice of the woman behind the music.

Earlier this year I even had the opportunity to meet her during a shoot. And despite being very ill, she was still very friendly and cooperative without a hint of diva-tude. That's rare in this business. No, we didn't hang out after or exchange information but before the shoot ended, I did give her props on her American Music Awards performance.

Some months before that shoot she "big-upped" some of my favorite reggae/dancehall artist by performing a dancehall remix to her hit single, No One. Besides that instance, who can remember the last time a reggae or dancehall artist ever performed on the AMA's or the Grammy Awards? She killed dem dead with the show!

And now Alicia Keys is truly using her star power for all it's worth to do something amazing and powerful through her Keep A Child Alive organization. This is what took me from being a casual listener to becoming an Alicia Keys fan. In the trailer below, you'll see poignant demonstrations of how her organization is providing AIDS medicine to African children and their families infected with the disease. Please take some time to watch the documentary, Alicia in Africa HERE, then donate and spread the word about Keep A Child Alive.

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