Friday, September 26, 2008

Miracle at St. Anna: Spike Lee Salutes 92nd Division, Buffalo Soldiers

As the verbal televised battle between Presidential hopefuls, Barak Obama and John McCain, plays out in the background, I attempt to multi-task by reading several reviews of Spike Lee's, "Miracle at St. Anna", a cinematic take on a different battle in American war history that never made it to primetime on CNN, nor the flashy big screens of Hollywood.  

And now having read four not so favorable reviews, I admit that some of their points are valid.  Yes, "Miracle at St. Anna" could have been shorter, and yes, there's possibly too many little subplots that distract you from the real story of four black WWII soldiers from the historic all black 92nd Division of the U.S. Army, aka Buffalo Soldiers, caught behind enemy lines. But those minor flaws should not keep you away from the theaters this weekend. 

Softening his sometimes polemic approach, Spike gives us a film that pulls on heart strings and sentimentalities despite all the violence, racism, and tragedy war brings.  Notice, even the film poster illustrates this. But ironically the poster also demonstrates how the thousands of black men and women that fought for freedom in a foreign land, but were denied it in their own, remain faceless in the picture of American patriotism and heroism.  If you hadn't seen the trailers or heard it was Spike's new joint, based on this poster, would you know "Miracle" is about black soldiers? It's Hollywood marketing at it's best to the mainstream.

Based on James McBride's 2003 novel of the same name, "Miracle" is a great visual history lesson.  But sadly, as we focus on the future and the inauguration of the first African-American president, many of us don't want to look back at how things used to be.  Understandable, there's a lot of pain there. But this poignant film  is more about the human story not so much the black versus white racial one.  

""Miracle at St. Anna" was never written as  a war story, it was written as a story about human beings who are reacting in times of extraordinary stress, trying to retain their humanity," says McBride.

And the cast does a wonderful job in portraying this. Salute to Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Omar Benson Miller, and especially Laz Alonzo.  So what do director, Spike Lee, and actor, Michael Ealy have to say about Miracle at St. Anna? Listen to these interviews from my post earlier this year to find out.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Get Well Soon Too, Natalie Cole! You're Unforgettable

With so much going on I almost forgot, that legendary singer, Natalie Cole, was also in the hospital. She's spent the past week in a New York hospital suffering from hepatitis C. According to the San Francisco Chronicle online, Cole told "Entertainment Tonight" that the chemo treatments are causing her to lose her hair and weight.

But Natalie Cole is not only a phenomenal singer, she's a conqueror. "The timing of this couldn't be worse," says Cole, "because of my new record coming out. What you do is rally and you have a great group of people rally around you." Her new album is called, "Still Unforgettable" which features another duet with her famed father titled, "Walking My Baby Back Home." Watch the video!

No dis to what's currently in heavy rotation on the radio right now, but every now and then it's good to bathe your ears in real instrumentation and vocals. Hear more of "Still Unforgettable" HERE.

God bless and strengthen you, Natalie Cole! In tribute to you here's my all time favorite song by you! I'm taking it back! This one always puts me in good mood!

I couldn't resist adding one more! Ma, this one's for you! Thank you for keeping Natalie's classic records! They betta be where I left them when I get home for the holidays, album covers and all!

Damn, that sounded good! Don't front! That brought back memories for some of you--good ones! It's like paradise, play it twice!

Edit Bay Mobile Blog #2

Here I am again blogging live from another edit session. Darkened edit bays is where I spend most of my time lately. That's not a complaint, just mere observation. After this break the editor and I will get back to working on a new project for BET's upcoming Hip Hop Awards in October.

This year music mogul and yoga enthusiast, Russell Simmons, will be honored with a special award. We're working on the video that will run during that award presentation. With photos, taped footage, music videos, interviews, and rights and clearances to secure there's a lot for me to do. So let me get back to it. Peace!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Full Recovery Prayer for Travis Barker and Crash Survivor

I just saw Blink 182's drummer,Travis Barker, at Janet's concert at the Staples Center last Wednesday. No, we don't know each other nor have mutual friends to my knowlege. But the fact that I saw him seemingly well just a few days ago and then learned of his near death experience in a plane crash that left four others dead, moves me to say a prayer of full recovery for him and the other survivor, Adam Goldstein, aka DJ AM. You just never know how quickly life can change.

As we travel the airways and highways, safe travel is not a full guarantee. Barker's plane crash reminds me to take nothing for granted. if you leave home or where ever you may be and arrive at your destination without accident or danger it's a blessing. Again, prayers of full recovery for Barker and DJ AM. Peace and condolences to the families of those that died.

Pic Source: AP

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Janet Jackson's Rock Witchu Tour: LA Fans Blown Away At Staples Center

"I promise I'll be worth the wait," said Janet Jackson to a potential lover some 20 years ago on her chart-topping "Control". And last night at LA's Staples Center, Jackson proved once again she is still worth the wait. But after such an absence were fans satisfied with the explosive, high-tech, two hour show packed with old school hits and new school flavor? Only the video will tell ya!

Want ticket info? Click header image or events tab on the gygdet I created. Want to hear Janet literally take it to the streets and call her fans about the tour? Hit "Street Team".

Banner 2 Banner 1 go!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Head Trips: Art Through The Eyes Of A Hollywood Hairstylist By Robert L. Stevenson

I'd be willing to bet multi-talented, motion picture hair designer Robert L. Stevenson never has a bad hair day. And even if he did, it would probably inspire a new sketch for his growing collection. When Stevenson is not designing amazing hair pieces and looks for some of Hollywood's greatest talents like Samuel L. Jackson, he's drawing delightful characters of his own.

And now with several hundred of sketches completed, Stevenson steps from behind-the-scenes and into the limelight to present "Hair Trips: Art As Seen Through The Eyes Of A Hollywood Hairstylist", an exhibit of some of his best work on and of the set. Go with me as I enjoy his marvelous works at the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles.

Listen to how Stevenson's mere doodling between takes sparked the genius that created the "Head Trips" exhibit. This extra footage of the opening of "Head Trips" was produced by local station, KTLA. The speech portion is mine. In it you may see some people you recognize and some you don't! (Thanks Suzanne!) The unique exhibit runs until October 31st and the museum is located on the 3rd floor of Macy's adjacent to the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Visit the museum's website or just call 323-294-7071 for more information.

Stevenson's wife and "agent" is former Universal Films publicist, Roz Stevenson, one of my favorite people in Hollywood. If you missed my insightful and humorous interview with her about her life and career in showbiz click HERE. It's definitely one of my favorite posts.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Janet Jackson's Rock Witchu Tour Opening Night Pics (Updated)

Seven is definitely a Divine number! It's been that long since Janet Jackson has blessed the world with a tour. And finally after several months of preparation she proved once again why she is worth the wait.

Tonight at the GM Place in Vancouver, Janet kicked off the North American leg of her Rock Witchu World Tour before an anxious crowd of approximately 11,000 people writes the online Vancouver Sun. These pics were taken a just few hours ago. Source: AP via Yahoo News, JDJ Inc., Getty


And for those of you that haven't heard, SEXY LL COOL J IS THE OPENING ACT! Lawd! Janet and LL on the same ticket! THIS SHOW IS DEFINITELY FOR THE GROWN & SEXY! So visit LIVENATION.COM OR JANETFANCLUB.COM for more tour dates. In the meantime, here's a video from Janet's personal hype man, JD, backstage at the show in Vancouver.

And just posted an hour ago on YouTube, Thursday, around 1 am PST, is a special message from the "Phenomenal Woman" herself. Errbody give it up for the one and only Janet Jackson. See, this is why she get's mad respect here. A simple thank you, still goes along way.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Family That Preys

Tyler Perry has done it again! With a great cast, great story, good laughs, and an ensemble of rich characters, "The Family That Preys" has everything it needs to be a box office hit this Friday including sexy, oiled dancers...I mean...actors.

But before you prepare to laugh in the aisles, be mindful too that "Family" is also a drama. In the tradition of "Dynasty" and "Knots Landing", this sixth release from Tyler Perry Studios explores the often volatile relationship between the haves and the have-nots through two distinct families from opposite sides of the tracks--the wealthy Cartwrights and the middle class Evans.

For 30 years Alice Evans (Oscar nominee, Alfre Woodard) and Charlotte Cartwright(Oscar winner, Kathy Bates) have been close friends. "Salt-of-the-earth" Evans is a restaurant owner with two grown daughters, Andrea and Pam. Cartwright is a rich widow turned CEO of her deceased husband's real estate development business. She has one ambitious son, William (Cole Hauser). Having worked at the family business for a couple of years, he thinks he's ready to run the company, Charlotte thinks otherwise.

But her son's hidden thoughts are not the only things on Charlotte's mind. As illness threatens her health, she plans a cross-country trip to do and see things she never has before. Who better to ride shotgun than best friend, Alice? It took some convincing, but once Alice realizes woman can't live by Bible verse alone, they are on their way for a hilarious "Oprah and Gayle" adventure.

Meanwhile, Alice's daughters, Pam (Taraji P. Henson) and Andrea (Sanaa Lathan) are at each other's throats. It's not so much sibling rivalry as much as contempt for the other's personality. For Andrea the grass is always greener at the Cartwright mansion especially if William is mowing it. Having a loving, blue-collar husband, Chris (Rockmond Dunbar), is just not enough. She really wants a man that matches her blind ambition--in other words, William. Pam, on the other hand, is happy helping run the family business and making a life for her and her husband, Ben (Tyler Perry). Andrea's snooty attitude angers her greatly, especially when it insults their mother.

So imagine what happens when clueless Chris realizes his wife not only has a separate account but is also richer than him by a couple hundred thousands. Since the start of their marriage, she was always the bread-winner, but the question is how the hell is she making her dough. What Chris discovers is astonishing and explosive.

Thrown into this salty mix of family and work drama is Abby (Robin Givens), a smart, corporate sister hired by Lady Cartwright herself to take the family business global. William dislikes her immediately and tries to intimidate her. But Abby ain't one to mess with when it comes to business; she has her boss's back and keeps a careful eye on Andrea's "front" as William's assistant.

Undoubtedly, "The Family That Preys" marks new ground for Tyler Perry and illustrates his growth as a director. He's combined the creative elements we're accustomed to and given fans a little something new. Listen to him and co-producer tell you more about the movie.


Source: Lionsgate Films

The cast of this movie is really worthy of high praise. Meet the cast as they talk about their individual roles.


Source: Lionsgate Films


Enjoy the trailer:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hollywood Cellphones: BlackBerry vs iPhone

In This Corner: Blackberry

Two weeks in and I must say that I'm enjoying my new 8330 BlackBerry Curve. When my old reliable Verizon wireless phone died the Mac enthusiast in me desired an iPhone, but brand loyalism wouldn't let me switch providers. So, I chose Verizon's iPhone wanna-be, the LG Dare. But "dare" as it might it couldn't satisfy all my email needs, thus the BlackBerry Curve quickly replaced it. My only complaints: It's not Mac compatible yet (Hint! Hint!) and the Verizon Curve doesn't come in a pretty crimson red like the BlackBerry world edition phone. Currently, the only other alternative for Verizon's Curve is pink.

I'm sorry but I want to talk and text, not shave! Pink is cool for little girls and toiletries, but grown ass women--or should I say--this grown ass woman likes her toys in rich, full colors. Verizon BlackBerry reps I hope you're reading this!

It's pretty obvious I'm not alone in my new cell phone adoration. In Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general there's seemingly only two kinds of phones that make our world go round, BlackBerry and iPhones. Just look around, errbody's got one of these talk toys attached to their hip or tucked away in a designer purse. BlackBerries and iPhones are now even making appearances in movies.

So what Hollywood types rely on BlackBerry phones? Just from mere observance, I say the on-the-go businessman or woman, i.e. the executive producers, the "suits", the managers, the business minded actor/actress--those always one phone call away from "sealing the deal." With download attachment capability, deal memos and contracts can be read immediately and negotiations can soon follow.

But those of us in showbiz purgatory--stuck between business and creative--like our "Crackberry" too. Having access to all your emails and quick web browsing can become addictive, thus the nickname. The phone does damn near every thing, but make the calls for you! There's even a website, for compatible software, ringtones, and accessories. Want to see what celebrities love their Blackberry too? Visit Celebrity Blackberry Sightings. As most know the Curve even has a camera for photos and videos but it's also capable of mobile YouTube viewing.

The Mobile Challenger: iPhone

Apple/AT&T zealots light your iPhones up! On and off set, iPhoners are constantly IMing, watching YouTube videos, and listening to music on their versatile screen phones. So in love, these preoccupied cell users seem to spend most of the day rubbing and caressing their touch screen machines as if they're on a date with them. I swear Johnny Gill's "Rub You The Right Way" should have been used in their ads.

BlackBerry Curve and Pearl users don't laugh! How are often are we pressing that "special button" just to get things popping on our device. I'm laughing as I type because I'm sure most of you have never looked at your phone that way. But now that you might, remember to get maximum results press these "special buttons" and sensitive screens carefully. Rub it the wrong way and your device may freeze.

And what's the Hollywood profile of an iPhone user? The creatives--those editors, always-patient actors/actresses, writers, and PAs that spend several hours waiting for something or someone. As they wait iTunes music and movies like only an Apple product could provide help pass the time.

Now, thankfully, with GPS Navigation Systems installed in both phones, to hell with the Thomas Guide. PAs and "runners" now just type in their destination and let the "voice" lead the them to the nearest Starbucks pick-up and Hollywood Hills home delivery! No more excuses for getting lost or confused about when the 101 east turns south. Just follow the turn by turn directions.

So friends and associates which Hollywood phone user are you? And if you don't live nor work in Hollywood, tell me which phone are you loving right now and why.

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