Thursday, April 26, 2012

40 ACRES & A MULE FILMWORKS ANNOUNCES THEATRICAL RELEASE PLANS FOR SPIKE LEE'S 'RED HOOK SUMMER'


Will partner with Variance Films for August 10 release  

Republic of Brooklyn, April 26, 2012 - 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks announced yesterday that the company will undertake its first independent distribution effort with founder Spike Lee's Brooklyn coming-of-age story, RED HOOK SUMMER. 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks will partner with New York-based Variance Films for the theatrical release, which will begin August 10th, 2012 in New York City theaters, expanding to the top 30 markets throughout the month of August.

SPIKE LEE ON SET

"From my very first joint back in 1986, SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, I have been an independent filmmaker, and even today I still am," said Spike Lee. "I'm elated to join forces with Variance Films for the independent distribution of my new joint RED HOOK SUMMER. We look forward to getting this film into the marketplace, where we believe 100 percent that there is a starving audience for American independent films like RED HOOK SUMMER."  

CHURCH

"Variance's sole mission is to ensure filmmakers retain their rights and their power," said Dylan Marchetti, founder of Variance Films, "and I can't think of a filmmaker that would make better use of both than Spike Lee. Spike is truly one of the godfathers of independent filmmaking, and RED HOOK SUMMER is an entertaining, yet thoughtful, film that says something we think needs to be said. We couldn't be more excited to work with Spike and his team to ensure that audiences across the country will be experiencing this fantastic film with their friends and family."

CHAZZ-BISHOP-FLIK

The latest in Spike Lee's "Chronicles of Brooklyn" (which also include SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, DO THE RIGHT THING, CROOKLYN, CLOCKERS, and HE GOT GAME), RED HOOK SUMMER tells the story of Flik Royale, a sullen young boy from middle-class Atlanta who has come to spend the summer with his deeply religious grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse, in the housing projects of Red Hook. Having never met before, things quickly get off on the wrong foot as Bishop Enoch relentlessly attempts to convert Flik into a follower of Jesus Christ. Between his grandfather's constant preaching and the culture shock of inner-city life, Flik's summer appears to be a total disaster--until he meets Chazz Morningstar, a pretty girl his age, who shows Flik the brighter side of Brooklyn. Through her love and the love of his grandfather, Flik begins to realize that the world is a lot bigger, and perhaps a lot better, than he'd ever imagined.

ABOUT 40 ACRES AND A MULE FILMWORKS

40 Acres And A Mule Filmworks is the production company of Spike Lee. Founded in 1986 in his childhood neighborhood of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, it has produced feature films, documentaries, commercials, music videos and short films. 40 Acres has been a training ground for young unknown black talent, both in front of and behind the camera, who have gone on to make their mark in Hollywood today.

ABOUT VARIANCE FILMS

Founded in 2008 in Brooklyn, Variance Films is a New York City-based theatrical distributor whose sole mission is to bring the best in independent cinema to theaters across the continent, while allowing filmmakers to retain all rights to their work. Founded in 2008 by Dylan Marchetti, Variance distributes films using innovative release strategies that focus on collaborative, filmmaker-centric grassroots marketing to drive audiences to theaters. Recent Variance Films releases include John Sayles' Philippine-American War epic AMIGO, José Padilha's ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN (Brazil's official submission for the 2011 Academy Awards™), Damien Chazelle's jazz musical GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH, and the highest-grossing film of all time in China, Jiang Wen's hilariously dark action-comedy LET THE BULLETS FLY. For more information, please visit www.variancefilms.com.




OFFICIAL WEBSITE: http://www.redhooksummer.com/ 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

John Cusack Plays Edgar Allan Poe In The Raven




John Cusack enters the press conference dressed in black from head to toe. It’s appropriate for the moment.   After all, he’s there to discuss his role in the movie, The Raven, a fictional thriller about the last days of Edgar Allan Poe’s life, set to open April 27.  Ironically black is not only a favorite color of Cusack’s, it apparently, was also Poe’s color of choice.

To be sure this drama is grizzly and gory. It’s dark and deliciously ghoulish. You wouldn’t expect anything less from a movie about Poe.

The movie goes something like this.

A brutal killing spree terrorizes 19th century Baltimore.  The plot thickens because the killer is using methods from Edgar Allan Poe’s stories. Poe must team up with a young Baltimore detective seeking to make a name for himself. Poe becomes even more invested in finding the killer when his lover, Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve), becomes a target.

LUKE EVANS & JOHN CUSACK STAR IN 'THE RAVEN'

It’s been a minute since Cusack did a real thriller. His more recent films included the comedy Hot Tub Time Machine and the sci-fi adventure 2012.  But, he puts his own magic on the role of the mysterious Poe who wrote such memorable stories as The Murders in the Rue Morgue and, of course, The Raven.

To prepare for the role, Cusack said he immersed himself in everything Poe by reading his poetry, letters and biographies.  To get more gaunt, he fasted and drank coffee.

When asked why he wanted to play Poe, Cusack said it was the role of a lifetime.

“The script was terrific,” said Cusack. “James (McTeigue, the director) and I went through it and pulled Poe’s own dialogue. I was obsessed and drove James crazy. I wanted to use his words and vernacular.”

Shooting in Belgrade and Budapest helped Cusack to development the character more fully.

"It was perfect for Poe,” said Cusack, who recently shot The Paperboy and Frozen Ground. “It was winter. It was cold and intense. I didn't sleep and felt like a vampire."

When asked what his takeaway was after all of his research on Poe, Cusack didn’t hold his tongue.

“He was flawed and fucked up,” said Cusack. “He was so vain. He was theatrical and felt like he was at war with the world.”

Director James McTeigue has amassed a solid cast and constructed a superb gruesome thriller.

Buy a big bag of popcorn, your favorite drink and enjoy!

This is a good one! Cusack is exceptional!

The Raven, directed by McTeigue from a script by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare, stars Cusack, Luke Evans, Alice Eve, Brendan Gleeson and Oliver Jackson-Cohen.

The Raven, is rated R for bloody violence and grisly images; running Time: 110 minutes.

On the Donloe Scale, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (OK) and E (excellent), “The Raven” gets an O (OK).



Sunday, April 22, 2012

"MARLEY" DOCUMENTARY OPENS 4/20


Recently several of Bob Marley’s children gathered at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about “Marley,” the documentary about their beloved father.

Ziggy, Cedella, Karen, Robert and Rohan Marley, who was joined by longtime Marley associate, Neville Garrick, not only support the Kevin Macdonald ('The Last King of Scotland') film, but are also featured. Each gives their own perspectives about who the man they called daddy and friend – really was.

The comprehensive documentary, which opens nationwide today, is said to be the definite take on the life of the truly important iconic reggae legend, who was born Robert Nesta Marley in Jamaica in 1945.

The Marley children commended Macdonald’s film for the showing the human side of their revolutionary father. 

While Marley symbolized peace and love, his children acknowledge that he also had a harsher side.   He was a strict disciplinarian (Karen speaks of how she literally couldn’t’ leave the dinner table until she had finished her meal) and at times was just “rough.”

Marley's family, band mates and friends all reflect on their views of Marley as a leader, a friend, a father, a womanizer and an incredible musician.

Although the film is long, coming in at 145 minutes, it doesn’t feel weighed down. It feels like a Bob Marley concert with the icon singing numerous hits from a huge chunk of his discography.

The film starts out by revealing Marley had an English father and that he moved from rural Jamaica to Kingston when he was 12.  His first record, Judge Not, was cut in 1962. By 1964, Marley had found his groove by recording Simmer Down with the legendary The Wailers.

“Marley,” (Magnolia Pictures) turns up the volume on Bob Marley’s prowess in the world of music, especially reggae.

“I think what’s great about the film is though there have been a lot of things done on Bob, I think this one will give people a more emotional connection to Bob’s life as a man – not just as a reggae legend or a mythical figure, but his life as a man,” said Ziggy Marley, who was wearing a beige, knit cap and a beige shirt emblazoned with his father’s image.

I caught up with the Marley children Rohan (RM), David Ziggy (ZM) Cedella (CM), Karen (KM), Robert (RM) and longtime associate Neville Garrick and asked them about the film.

DAVID 'ZIGGY' MARLEY

Q: Ziggy, what do you like about the film?

ZM: This is about his life and everything he’s been through. Now people know him life.

Q: What about you, Rohan?

RM:  I like that the film showed the human side of my father. It’s important that through the beginning you see he came from nothing. The film did a great job of showing my father as a human being.

Q: How old were you when he died?

RM: I was nine.

Q: How would you describe him?

RM: He was quiet, patient, strict, a father.

Q: Cedella, your thoughts.

CM:  Kevin did an amazing job of people to talk to. We started out laughing, by the end we’re crying.

Q: You had to share your father with the world. In the film you seem to resent having to do that.

CM: Even now, we’re still sharing him.

Q: What’s the most important thing you want people to get from this film?

ZM:  The legacy he left. People don’t even know us, but they walk up to us and say, ‘you’re Bob’s kids. I love you.’

Q: Can you share an intimate moment you had with your dad?

ZM: Going to Zimbabwe on a plane with him. He said it was like a trip to the moon. I remember playing football and even the spankings. I remember him trying to feed me the disgusting juices he would make. I remember his writing songs and telling us to come and sing.

ROBERT & DAVID 'ZIGGY' MARLEY

Q: What did your father teach you?

ZM: Realizing music has a purpose and is spiritual. Music is from God. I learned that from him. When I was younger, I wanted to be just like him. I can feel his spirit within me.

Q: At one point he really became ill.

CM:  Hmmm…amputating his leg, strokes he had, tonsils taken out.

Q: Rohan, how much did you know about your father’s illness?

RM:  I never knew my father had cancer or was ill until he passed away. I saw him as this energy. You’d never know. He’d never say he was sick.

Q: Your thoughts Karen.

KM:  I didn’t grow up with him. I would visit on the weekends. He was strict and hard. He was also a loving father.

CM: Mommy dealt out discipline. He would take you for ice cream. He was the rebel for all seasons. That’s what I call daddy.

Q: Your father lived his life a certain way. How are you living your life?

RM: It’s important we live a certain way so our father would be proud. We come as lions, not lambs to be slaughtered. 

Q:  What did you like about your father?

RM: So much. Of course the music, mon. He wasn’t regretful or vengeful.

Q: Were you ever afraid of him?

RM: I feared my father. He was a lion. I’m a lamb. You gotta make sure you’re doing the right thing. He never spanked me. He only threatened me. My father was at home to make sure I was on the right page.

Q: Ziggy, did you learn anything about your father that you didn’t already know?

ZM: I didn’t know Bob was shy. I’m shy too.

Q: Neville, you were very close to Bob Marley. It has to be hard watching a film about your friend who has passed away.

NG: Bob used to say, the only time you’re dead is when no one speaks about you again.

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for drug content, thematic elements and some violent images)
Running time: 2:25

On the Donloe Scale, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (OK) and E (excellent), “Marley” gets an E (excellent)


Friday, April 20, 2012

DANAI GURIRA Gives Voice To Zimbabwean Women in THE CONVERT


Whether it’s her personal views or it’s the dialogue she’s written for one of her shows, playwright Danai Gurira doesn’t mince words.

She speaks her mind and is rather firm in her declarations. Her opinions, of which there are many, are resolute.  She’s engaging, self-assured and enthusiastic when she talks about subjects close to her heart.

Today, chicly dressed in a red tank top, black pants, stylish wedges, a beige shawl thrown over her shoulders, a black bracelet and traditional, colorful African earrings complementing her attire, Gurira, an Obie Award-winner (In the Continuum and Eclipsed) is at the Music Center Annex. The passion she has for her work pours out and fills the large, chilly rehearsal hall as she begins to express thoughts about her latest play, The Convert, directed by Emily Mann and set to open April 19, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.


The Convert, winner of the 2011 Stavis Award and Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award, takes place in 1895. The focus is Jekesai, a girl who escapes a forced marriage arrangement and is then faced with choosing between family traditions, Christian faith and the Western principles she’s come to adopt.

When asked to describe the show, an explanation rolls off Gurira’s tongue with ease.  The look on her face and the inclusion and rapid movement of her long, expressive fingers, enhances her elucidation.

“It deals with a turn of the century (19th-20th) in what is now Zimbabwe,” says Gurira, who is from Grenelle, Iowa, but whose family moved back to Zimbabwe when she was five-years-old. “It centers around a young girl caught between her Catholic faith and African traditions and cultural norms. She escaped a polygamist marriage through the help of an African catalyst. It’s when Rhodesia was becoming a colony. It’s when Africans realized the whites weren’t leaving, they were settling. It occurs at the cusp of the struggle for freedom that the natives attempt.” 
In a previous interview she conducted about the play, Mann addressed her feelings about the production and Gurira.

“What I love about this play is that there are no angels and no villains,” she says. “You are seeing why Christianity had the hold on Africa that it did, both for good and bad. Certainly, Danai, who is a devoutly religious woman, is very glad that Christianity came to Africa. And in a way, the play shows how the African church got formed. You see how the push and pull of the idea of what the traditional lifestyle, or traditional culture was, as opposed to the new Western culture, what was good and bad in one side and what was good and bad in the other.”

Mann says the subject matter, while based on an African tradition, is still relatable.

“You can understand the tension in a young girl who didn’t want to be the tenth wife of some old man in some village, and yet, the uncles had the power to basically enslave her, converting to Catholicism because there’s no such thing as polygamy in Catholicism,” offered Mann in a previous interview. “She was, as a woman, saved from the misogyny of her own culture. That’s where Danai is so brilliant. There is a complexity to how she looks at the situation I haven’t seen in a play, from the point of view that we’re hearing it from. We’re hearing from an African woman’s perspective, who’s also an American, whose primary language is English, tell us this story.”
The show, a world premiere production co-produced with McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ) and The Goodman Theatre (Chicago), has already received favorable accolades.

Charles Isherwood of The New York Times called it “an ambitious, absorbing new play!, while Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune said “Gurira has written a richly complex portrait, blistering acting throughout. Gutsy, Heartfelt….”

The show stars Pascale Armand, Cheryl Lynn Bruce, Zainab Jah, Kevin Mambo, LeRoy McClain, Warner Joseph Miller and Harold Surratt.

MANN TO MANN

Mann, a multi-award winner, has impressive directorial credits that include: Nilo Cruz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Anna in the Tropics with Jimmy Smits (on Broadway); the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s Miss Witherspoon (off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons); Uncle Vanya ; All Over (also off-Broadway at The Roundabout; 2003 Obie Award for Directing); The Cherry Orchard; Three Sisters; A Doll House, The Glass Menagerie with Shirley Knight and more.
There is a clear collaborative effort between Mann and Gurira.


“I’m a very co-directing playwright,” explains Gurira, who is also closely involved in the casting of her shows. “I contribute a lot in the room.  You may not get what I meant. I won’t work with a director who won’t do that. There is a lot that goes into whether it’s the right pairing. Emily Mann is a playwright and looks to playwrights and loves to feed off of you. It’s a fantastic thing to work with her. She’s very collaborative. You can chime in.  I can identify things from an actor’s perspective. This show is culturally specific so you have to look to me sometimes. The question may be - What is the significance of that?”

“Danai has a unique perspective being both Zimbabwean and American, being a great actress and a great writer, and someone who has a real mastery of the English language and theatrical English language,” said Mann in a previous interview. “She can bring this to us alive, and passionate, and funny, and smart. I think it’s a rare opportunity for an audience to go and connect with this story. It’s a journey I haven’t seen on film or in the theater.”

For Gurira, the theatre is a powerful place.

“Theater, it’s the very visceral experience of live storytelling,” she says. “The idea of theatricality, it’s a very real thing. Things are live on a stage that can’t live on a screen. It’s magic in the theater if you know how to latch on to it.  I really think theater is where you can sharpen your teeth as a craftsman.  It’s the original form. It’s not for the light of heart. You have to retain integrity and continue to deliver a high-quality product. That’s really where you separate the sheep from the goats.”

DOING IT WRITE

Gurira has written three plays. All three, In the Continuum, Eclipse and now The Convert have all be heralded, won awards and found a home at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. With three shows under her belt at the Douglas, Gurira, reportedly, has the distinction of having more plays produced there than any other playwright.

She admits three for three isn’t bad.

“These plays comprise parts of a trilogy on Zimbabwe’s coming of age from a feminine perspective,” she says.  “My protagonist is going to be a woman. Stories of African women are scantily told. I don’t know why that is. This is my calling. My deepest desire is to tell the story from the feminine perspective.”

In the Continuum, in which Gurira also co-starred, dealt with HIV in black women from the perspective of a Zimbabwean woman, who had a child and contracted the disease from her husband.
Eclipsed, set in Liberia just before the end of the civil war under the regime of Charles Taylor, tells the story of five women who were routinely raped and taken captive as sex slaves of commandoes.

“Some made questionable choices,” says Gurira of the women depicted in the play. “Being a woman with the liability of a vagina. Who do you become when the world is against you?” 

In the last two years, Gurira has been to Zimbabwe three times doing exhaustive research. It’s hard work, but, she says it comes naturally due to her upbringing by two academics.

“Every time I go, I learn something and something gets tweaked,” she says. “I’m an academic at heart. I was brought up by a scientist and a librarian. I research. Going home is very informative. I definitely research until I find something that compels me. Then I fictionalize it.”

While she actually wants to write these stories about African women, Gurira adds it’s more like she’s compelled to do so.

“Something has to eat at you creatively,” she says. “What comes out is a creative response. I feel, thus far, rage, frustration, befuddled, perhaps fascination.  It’s all connected to why is there a lack of my voice? I created In the Continuum, with Nikkole [Salter] because necessity was a necessity of invention.  These are amazing people. It’s an amazing society. It’s nuts. It’s awesome. Why is the story never told?”

While trying to find her own voice, Gurira kept stumbling upon the voices of others.

“I’m seeing and deeply studying Emerson, Chekhov and Shaw,” she says. “These guys are the saints of this field. They delve into their people. I’m having trouble finding that in my own voice. Why? The ideal I had is the idea that there is no difference between my story and Chekhov’s. So why shouldn’t mine come to light?  Spiritually I feel I’m called to this. God revealed it to me. I was trying to veer toward what my dad did, but the call was free and heavy.”

Why Gurira writes has a simple explanation.

“I write from what fascinates me and what I feel is important to my humanity,” she says.  “I was fascinated about the history of my people and how rarely it’s told and explored. Who we are today is how we are affected by what happened back then. The collision of ideologies, colonial norms, traditional practices, informs the African identity. It’s never been excavated in a way that satisfied me. It was my own exploration and my own identity and that of my people.”

When asked why she deems the stories she writes as being important and why people should care, Gurira doesn’t hesitate or blink an eye. Her face doesn’t divulge what she thinks about the question, but her explanation does.

“I don’t care if you care,” she says. “Come watch it and tell me. My job is not to be political or to be a politician. Those stories don’t differ from Africa. The only difference is between culture and circumstances. The thing I find frustrating is what gets a loud voice is stuff that is specific to the majority. There is nothing more worthy in a story told from a Caucasian perspective than an African perspective. Come see the story and connect to an African character and story.”

When she was asked by The Washington Post to write an op-ed about what’s going on in Zimbabwe, Gurira says she declined.

“I didn’t think I was qualified,” she says. “There is a lot that goes into what has happened. It’s about dramatizing the stress points. What are the inciting incidents? It’s about this moment in history.”

GOING HOME

Although she was born in Iowa, Gurira, who recently moved to Los Angeles, refers to Zimbabwe as ‘home.’

“I call myself a Zamerican,” says Gurira. “I call Zimbabwe home. Living your formative years somewhere. It’s about the home you grew up in and the language your family spoke. It’s the place where people say your name right. There are tons of people like me. I sound somewhat American. I’m a bit more abrasive for a Zimbabwean woman.  I don’t meld fully.”

GURIRA

Gurira, who would rather not reveal her age, is a stunningly beautiful woman with smooth, dark chocolate skin. She’s long and lean with sultry almond eyes and a short, cropped coif. Her demeanor, style and gait evoke royal lineage.

The youngest of four children (Choni, Tare and Shingai), Gurira is the offspring of parents who are both academics and both from Zimbabwe. Her mother, Josephine, was a university librarian at Grinnell College in Iowa where her father, Roger, taught chemistry.

Gurira’s own education includes an MFA in acting from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and an undergrad BA in psychology from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Although most of the attention she’s currently receiving is due to her writing, Gurira, who speaks four languages (French, Shona, basic Xhosa and English) and taught playwriting and acting in Liberia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, is also an actress with a varied body of work. 

She has performed in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone on Broadway, Measure For Measure for the Public.

Her film credits include: The Visitor, Ghost Town, Restless City, My Soul To Take and 3 Backyards.

Some of her television credits include: Treme, Lie To Me, Life On Mars and Law & Order.

Soon she will be off to Georgia for seven months to play the highly popular role of Michonne, the heroine in AMC’s drama, The Walking Dead, based on the comics by Robert Kirkman.

JUST A MOMENT

Gurira remembers clearly the moments she knew she wanted to be an artist. One of those moments was just as she was finishing high school.

“We were doing a Zimbabwean adapted version of For Colored Girls,” she says. “We called it Midnight Voices. It was the lady in red drops the babies monologue. I was working on it by myself. I played with it in my living room. It’s how you bring it alive and make it specific to you. It‘s that whole thing when you get lost in time and space. You’re in your calling, you’re in your zone, you don’t notice the clock. That was the first moment.  I was 18.”

The next moment was when she decided to study abroad in South Africa.

“I was a junior in college in Capetown,” she says.  I was sitting there.  I sat in this beautiful campus and had to face the fact that psychology was not my calling.  How do you affect change?  It crystallized. My whole trajectory was about pursuing that desire.”

NEXT

Always in motion, Gurira stays busy. If she’s not acting, she’s writing, or researching or traveling, or she’s thinking about her next move.

She already has a five and 10-year plan.

“It’s tricky,” she says. “In 10 years I’d like my acting work to create a different chapter.  My acting work blindsides me. It keeps life exciting. I’d like to be able to say in five years I will have been in the realm of creating a television show of the experiences that are absent from the screen. In  10 years I want to be a filmmaker, writing and directing.”
NO EXPECTATIONS

Gurira got into show business with no expectations. It was a calling she says she had to answer.

“I never expected something, that’s why I’m healthy and happy,” she says. “My job is to influence it. You contribute to it, not have a relationship with it. If it’s based on creating then my job is to create, not to expect anything from it.  Don’t say, ‘give me, give me.’ It’s what you can bring to the table. My job is to influence it. It’s not my job to sit around and complain. It’s my job to do something about it.”

The Convert, opens April 19 at 8 pm: Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City 90232:  Tues.-Fri. 8 pm; Sat. at 2 and 8 pm; Sun. at 1 and 6:30 pm; Through May 19; Tickets: $20-$45; 213 628-2772 or www.centertheatregroup.org.

This story is reposted with the permission of LA Stage Times. It was written for and posted on the LA Stage Times website April 19, 2012.













'THINK LIKE A MAN' HAS AN ALL-STAR CAST


The movie, "Think Like A Man," adapted from Steve Harvey's book, 'Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,' is set to open nationwide April 20. I recently caught up with some of the stars, Michael Ealy (ME), Kevin Hart (KH) and Romany Malco (RM) to talk about the film.

Q: Kevin, you had great one-liners throughout the movie (the movie was going up and down with your one-liners), how much of it was scripted and how much of it was your brilliance?

KH: The great thing about Tim Story is as a director you have choices you can make with your talent. You can have your talent be married to the actual material or you can realize sometimes that talent that you have and where their strengths are. In comedy my talents are improvisation. So Tim allowed me to improve whenever I wanted to as long as I stayed within the character guideline and that’s what I did. I think some of it was me; some of it was the script. A lot of those funny moments are probably me just riffing to some funny stuff.

KEVIN HART

Q: Michael, what did you think of your film?

ME: I love it! I honestly love it! I am watching myself the first time… I was more critical of my own stuff. I was just telling the writers that when anybody else was on the screen but me, I just thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed watching every character go through their beats and their development. I enjoyed every relationship. Every relationship was fleshed out. The movie breaths enough so that every relationship had an arch and that is so rare in romantic comedies.

MICHAEL EALY

Q: Michael, you reference your 'For Colored Girls' character and it was hilarious! Who’s idea was it? Was it you? The writers?

ME: I don’t know who had the line. I was like ‘nah, nah, nah!’  If anybody is gonna say something, its gonna be me. That’s just too perfect. It’s way too perfect! I’m glad people got it. You always have to be careful with what you say these days. But was innocent and its fun that way.

ROMANY MALCO

Q: I’d like to know if the three of you actually read Steve Harvey’s book and what do you really think as men about whether or not he actually told your secrets or what you think about the book…period.

RM: I actually read the book after I read the script. I actually understood a lot of what he was saying in the book, but I didn’t necessarily agree with it. There was an instance where his wife loves to scuba diva, but because of the fact that he couldn’t scuba diva it made him nervous that he wouldn’t be able to save her (if something happened). If found it a little bit contradictory because at the same time he speaks in the faith of God, you know. Certain things you just can’t control. So that I kind of had a little bit of a beef with. But, what he as saying fundamentally, for the most part, I think it does apply, maybe to the status quo. I think….I don’t want to get myself in trouble.

Q: You just did!

KH: I read the book. I like the book. The reason why I liked the book is because what he is doing is being honest. I think he is being honest from his point of view, which I think is great! Me being an entertainer coming from a stand-up comedy background, when you are self-deprecating is great because you are being vulnerable. You are letting people in on your world, your mistakes and what you’ve done. For Steve to talk about the things he talks about in this book, he basically saying, ‘look I’m a man and I know how men think and the mistakes that men make, but at the same time, ladies there’s reasons for the mistakes that we make.’ It made women aware of the things that they should and shouldn’t do.  When you have a certain level of respect for yourself and carry yourself a certain way, a man has no choice but to treat you the way you want to be treated. He did a great job at showing that gradually in the book. At the end of the day a woman get that its not about him just bashing men, its about him letting you in a man’s mind and saying, ‘listen, we can do better, but you have to help us and here’s how you help us by doing these things and the attitudes and the way you want to be treated and carry yourself. Things should be changed on that side and it forces us to change. It was a smart book to me and I enjoyed it.

ME: Nope.

Q: No, you didn’t read it? No, you aren’t gonna read it?

ME: I may at some point, I thought it was important for me just as a character to not have any understanding of the book whatsoever, so that when the book comes up in the movie its, ‘what is this?’ and its more of a shock and ‘what is he doing?’ ‘he’s a traitor’ and stuff like that. During the production it was not imperative at all for me just as an artist to go there and approach the script as it was. Because often times books and scripts are two different worlds, so I didn’t want that to affect the script. I was playing the script.

(l-r) MICHAEL EALY, KEVIN HART, GARY OWEN, TERRENCE J, ROMANY MALCO & JERRY FERRARA, star in "THINK LIKE  A MAN"

Q: With no disrespect to the screenwriters, Kevin it seemed to me that you scripted your own little story in a sense. It might have even been written that way, but it seemed you where given a lot of liberties that worked. How was that working with the script verses him [Story] allowing you to adlib a little bit…and what percentage did you adlib?

KH: You have to make smart choices when trying to improvise. You gotta make smart decisions. Everybody can go and everybody can be funny. But I think what was so important about this was staying within the story.  There is a story being told and your character’s journey has to make sense. Sometimes you can be funny, but now I took us out of where we were suppose to be, by being funny. My conversations with Tim and Will were always, ‘listen I think its good if I did this while they are doing this or if my character were to talk about this and snap about certain things. ‘ It makes sense of everybody else and how they feel.

At some points I wanted to be angry. At some points I felt like what they were saying it should be irrelevant to what my overall bigger picture is, which was taking everybody away and do something with me for a change. Because when you are going through a divorce, that’s what you want. You want your friends to be around you, you need male company. I don’t want to see no woman. Women are the devil. They are the enemy. I need my friends right now, and y’all not there for me.  That’s the feeling that you go through.  For me going through a divorce in life, I took some of those things and added it to it. It was all those conversations. Tim and I would talk. He would agree and if he disagreed I would say ‘ok, that makes sense.’ It was a great relationship between an actor and a director to allow me to do the things I did.

'THINK LIKE A MAN'

RM: In any comedy or project that I have been involved in that was really successful, usually involved collaboration. It’s actually what [Kevin] was saying. Not just collaboration amongst the actors, but the fact that the actor was able to go to the director or the producer and interject ideas. And even the writer, if the writer is on set. So the collaboration is actually 360 (degrees).

KEVIN HART

Q: Out of the three characters you played, which is the closest to who you really are?

KH: My divorce was finalized in the middle of filming. The only difference is that in the movie there were points that the audience would think I hated “Gail” [Wendy Williams’ character] and what I was going through.  And in the end I made a 360.

Q: You mean a 180.  (laughing).

JERRY FERRARA, GARY OWEN, TERRENCE J, 
MICHAEL EALY & ROMANY MALCO

KH: (laughing) And that’s why I chose comedy. In my marriage, even with us getting a divorce, my ex-wife are very good friends. We have kids together and for that reason alone we have a close relationship and always will. We just chose to go different directions in life. That would be the only thing that was different, but the process of going through divorce was a hard and angry process to go through. For the movie I just channeled that and took it and ran with it.

Q: You mentioned kids. You have a daughter.  You are going to have to in part some kind of knowledge of dating on your daughter. You may be writing your own book one day, either literally or figuratively about dating and relationships for your daughter. What’s the advice you are going to pass on to her?

KH: I am a firm believer that you can only give so much advise. My mother was a great mother. She told me everything I needed know, and I still made mistakes. I still did dumb stuff. You have to do dumb stuff to grow and learn that its dumb stuff.  As a father, all I can do is be a great dad, which I am. I can be there for my daughter. I spend time with my daughter. My daughter understands that she has a father figure in her life that’s above and beyond what he’s suppose to be. At the end of the day I am doing my job. When she wants to talk and needs advice, I’m going to be there for her.  She’s going to make mistakes and I don’t expect her to be perfect.  She’ll never be beat or punished for doing things I know I did as well. My job is to just have my daughter in a place where she feels comfortable enough to talk to me about anything. I think that’s what you want as a parent.

ROMANY MALCO & MEAGAN GOOD

Q: Romany, can you talk about working with Megan and whether do you believe in the 90-day rule?

RM: I kind of implement my own waiting rule as well.

Q: How long is it?

RM: I have literally been with a woman for a year before we went to bed. I was just kickin’ it with a chick for six months.  For me, I look at myself like a business or a corporation. I have like 20 plus people that work on my behalf and they have families and kids. They rely on me to deliver a certain service so we all can eat. I don’t now if I can justify risking that because I was tempted to “hit” this or be with a person. It's something I just grew up learning.  At the end of the day you can tell people and say whatever you want, but it's time. For me, if I am with a woman and investing time, without necessarily wanting to be “there” and she feels uncomfortable because she needs to be validated via the vagina, that she’s probably not the chick for me; especially in the profession I’m in. I need to be with a woman who is secure enough within herself to be able to indulge outside of that at times, because when you are in relationships that’s usually the first thing to go anyway.

RM: Working with Megan…it’s my second time working with Megan. It was like… How many times have you seen a fruit bowl and there is a mango in there? Me and Megan worked together in a Mike Meyers movie and we never got to do any scenes…its like looking at that fruit bowl and not being able to touch it. So this time the minute we were like, ‘yo’ we are working together.’  I was like, ‘Yo! I get to bite into this fruit!’

TARAJI P. HENSON

Q: What was it like working with Taraji?

ME: Literally a dream. I have been wanting to work with her for years. We talked about it. The two most dramatic actors that we are coming together and doing something powerful…and we came together and did this…and had so much fun actually being silly.  One of the things I learned is that romance is comedic. I understand the whole point of having a romantic comedy. Before I never wanted to do one because I didn’t understand it. But now I totally understand how funny the whole thing is. Working with Taraji day in and day out, there is nothing she can’t handle. There were things that I threw at her that she didn’t know was coming and she just knocked it out of the park. She is so dope! That is the only way to describe her. I hope that we get to do more projects together.

Q: More love scenes?

ME: We can do that too!

Q; Talk about the basketball scenes with Lisa Leslie and trying to score and defend her.

ME: Let me just say this. There was no script for that. They were like, ‘Kevin, go!’ I gotta give all credit to him. He did that whole scene.

KH: Lisa is great! She allowed me to play and we went back and forth with ideas and stuff to do. The whole thing was me playing on the fact that I am small, but have this big personality. Nothing but trash talk.  She literally did what she wanted to do and in real life she could do the same. She’s great!



Thursday, April 19, 2012

NY-BASED PROJECT1VOICE ANNOUNCES 2nd ANNUAL “1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY”


TWENTY FIVE AFRICAN-AMERICAN THEATRE COMPANIES
PARTICIPATE IN A NATIONAL CELEBRATION OF
AFRICAN-AMERICAN THEATRE WITH BENEFIT STAGED READINGS
OF JAMES BALWIN'S CLASSIC PLAY
THE AMEN CORNER
ON MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

“Black Theater in America is alive…it is vital…it just isn’t funded.”
August Wilson
April 19, 2012 (New York, NY) Today, PROJECT1VOICE, a newly established not-for-profit performing arts service organization founded by New York-based actor/producer Erich McMillan-McCall (Chicago, The Who’s Tommy) to preserve the legacy and tradition of African-American theatre and playwrights, announced the 2nd Annual: 1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY.

On Monday, June 18, 2012, twenty five African-American theatres across the country will engage in a national day of celebration of African-American theatre by producing benefit staged readings of The Amen Corner, the classic drama by James Baldwin, honoring the 25th year anniversary of his passing. The participating theatres are: African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX) African Continuum Theatre (Washington, DC) African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX), Alabama State University, (Montgomery, AL) American Performing Arts Collaborative (New York, NY), American Theater Project (New Orleans, LA),The Billie Holiday Theatre (Brooklyn, NY), Black Spectrum Theatre (New York, NY), Brown Box Theatre (Seattle, WA), Bushfire Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Congo Square Theatre (Chicago, IL), Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick, NY), Dillard University (New Orleans, LA), Ebony Repertory Theatre (Los Angeles, CA), Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), Freedom Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Howard University ( Washington, DC), Kuntu Repertory Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA), Lorraine Hansbury Theatre (San Francisco, CA), National Black Theatre (New York, NY), Negro Ensemble Company (New York, NY), New Federal Theatre (New York, NY), New Professional Theatre (New York, NY), Penumbra Theatre Company (Minneapolis/St Paul, MN), Rainey Institute (Cleveland, OH), The Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (New York, NY), Uprooted (Milwaukee, WI), and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (Sarasota, FL).

“This national day of celebration not only honors the late great playwright, James Baldwin's seminal work. It also seeks to highlight the African-American theatre companies who are struggling for their very existence,” PROJECT1VOICE Founder Erich McMillan-McCall said. “It is imperative that our community sparks renewed interest in the art, the artists and the organizations which nurture them. PROJECT1VOICE is proud to take on the challenge of trumpeting our artistic resources so that they can sustain themselves now and into the future.”

Project1VOICE is a not-for-profit, performing arts service organization, advocating on issues that specifically affect Black theater. We are dedicated to the preservation of Black theater--it's legacy and tradition--now and for future generations. Our mission is to support and cultivate artistic excellence, creativity and innovation among Black theaters, connecting people and communities to the arts with a continuum of experiences that reflect the virtuosity, creative and inclusive spirit of the arts.

Black theatres remain at the forefront of developing and sustaining African-American playwrights, directors, actors and other theater professionals. In 2010, McMillan-McCall became acutely aware that theatres across the country, especially historically African-American theatres, were struggling to stay afloat during the economic downturn. With this in mind, he partnered with other concerned individuals to bring attention and assistance to these mainstays of employment for theatre artists of color, and thus, PROJECT1VOICE was born.

Key members of the PROJECT1VOICE team areproducer/production manager Gwen Gilliam, award-winning playwright and director Charles Randolph-Wright, actor/producer Charles Reese (Teeth and Eyes Productions) and marketing consultant/producer Marcia Pendelton (Walk Tall Girl Productions).

“PROJECT1VOICE is shedding light on a universal problem by targeting a specific one...the plight of African American theaters.” McMillan-McCall said. “We want to have a longoverdue conversation about the loss of our creative voices with some long-term sustainable solutions to preserve their legacies.”

1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY readings of The Amen Corner will not only serve as fundraisers for the participating theaters, they will also act as community engagement events to further develop audiences, recruit volunteers, attract corporate and foundation funding, and seek in-kind goods and services.

Additional details about ticketing, directors, and casts for all readings will be announced at a later date.

For more information about PROJECT1VOICE, and to see interviews with theater luminaries such as prolific producer Woodie King, Jr., Tony-Award winner Adriane Lenox, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, visit www.project1voice.org.
______________________________________________________

About THE AMEN CORNER*
The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following "Go Tell It on the Mountain." It was first published in 1954, and inspired a short-lived 1983 Broadway musical adaptation with the slightly truncated title, Amen Corner.

The play addresses themes of the role of the church in the African-American family and the effect of a poverty born of racial prejudice on the African-American community.

The Amen Corner takes place in two settings: a ‘‘corner’’ church in Harlem and the apartment dwelling of Margaret Alexander, the church pastor, and of her son, David, and sister Odessa. After giving a fiery Sunday morning sermon, Margaret is confronted by the unexpected arrival of her long estranged husband, Luke, who collapses from illness shortly thereafter. Their son, David, along with several elders of the congregation, learn from Luke that, while Margaret had led everyone to believe that he had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left Luke in pursuit of a purely religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret and her son, her congregation, and her estranged husband, regarding what they see as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions, which she uses to justify the breakup of her family.

After an important conversation with his dying father, David informs Margaret that he is leaving home to pursue his calling as a jazz musician. On his deathbed, Luke declares to Margaret that he has always loved her, and that she should not have left him. Finally, Margaret’s congregation decides to oust her, based on their perception that she unjustly ruined her own family in the name of religion. Only after losing her son, her husband, and her congregation, does Margaret finally realize that she should not have used religion as an excuse to escape the struggles of life and love, but that ‘‘To love the Lord is to love all His children—all of them, everyone!—and suffer with them and rejoice with them and never count the cost!’’

*The Amen Corner permission granted by Samuel French, Inc. 45 West 25th Street New York, NY 10010

BIOS

James Baldwin (Playwright)

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain," appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays "Notes of a Native Son," was published the same year. A second collection of essays, "Nobody Knows My Name," was published in 1961 between his novels "Giovanni's Room" (1956) and "Another Country" (1961).

The appearance of "The Fire Next Time" in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that "The Fire Next Time" achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on "Nothing Personal," a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, "Going to Meet the Man," was published in 1965, and in 1968, "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone," his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: "No Name in the Street" (1972) and "The Devil Finds Work" (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling "If Beale Street Could Talk" (1974) and "Just Above My Head" (1979) and also a children's book "Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood" (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on "A Rap on Race" (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on "A Dialogue" (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, "Jimmy's Blues" (1983), and a final collection of essays, "The Price of the Ticket." Baldwin's last work, "The Evidence of Things Not Seen" (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Erich McMillan-McCall (Founder, PROJECT1VOICE) A native of Birmingham, AL. Erich McMillan-McCall received a BFA from Birmingham-Southern College. His Broadway credits include The Who’s Tommy and Chicago. He was part of the national tours of Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Dirty Dancin’. His television appearances include roles on“30 Rock”, “One Live to Live," “All My Children” and“Guiding Light." He has also worked in editorial fashion at Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Glamour Magazines.

PROJECT1VOICE ANNOUNCES 2nd ANNUAL “1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY”



TWENTY FIVE AFRICAN-AMERICAN THEATRE COMPANIES
PARTICIPATE IN A NATIONAL CELEBRATION OF
AFRICAN-AMERICAN THEATRE WITH BENEFIT STAGED READINGS
OF JAMES BALWIN'S CLASSIC PLAY
THE AMEN CORNER
ON MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

“Black Theater in America is alive…it is vital…it just isn’t funded.”
August Wilson
April 19, 2012 (New York, NY) Today, PROJECT1VOICE, a newly established not-for-profit performing arts service organization founded by New York-based actor/producer Erich McMillan-McCall (Chicago, The Who’s Tommy) to preserve the legacy and tradition of African-American theatre and playwrights, announced the 2nd Annual: 1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY.

On Monday, June 18, 2012, twenty five African-American theatres across the country will engage in a national day of celebration of African-American theatre by producing benefit staged readings of The Amen Corner, the classic drama by James Baldwin, honoring the 25th year anniversary of his passing. The participating theatres are: African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX) African Continuum Theatre (Washington, DC) African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX), Alabama State University, (Montgomery, AL) American Performing Arts Collaborative (New York, NY), American Theater Project (New Orleans, LA),The Billie Holiday Theatre (Brooklyn, NY), Black Spectrum Theatre (New York, NY), Brown Box Theatre (Seattle, WA), Bushfire Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Congo Square Theatre (Chicago, IL), Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick, NY), Dillard University (New Orleans, LA), Ebony Repertory Theatre (Los Angeles, CA), Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), Freedom Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Howard University ( Washington, DC), Kuntu Repertory Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA), Lorraine Hansbury Theatre (San Francisco, CA), National Black Theatre (New York, NY), Negro Ensemble Company (New York, NY), New Federal Theatre (New York, NY), New Professional Theatre (New York, NY), Penumbra Theatre Company (Minneapolis/St Paul, MN), Rainey Institute (Cleveland, OH), The Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (New York, NY), Uprooted (Milwaukee, WI), and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (Sarasota, FL).

“This national day of celebration not only honors the late great playwright, James Baldwin's seminal work. It also seeks to highlight the African-American theatre companies who are struggling for their very existence,” PROJECT1VOICE Founder Erich McMillan-McCall said. “It is imperative that our community sparks renewed interest in the art, the artists and the organizations which nurture them. PROJECT1VOICE is proud to take on the challenge of trumpeting our artistic resources so that they can sustain themselves now and into the future.”

Project1VOICE is a not-for-profit, performing arts service organization, advocating on issues that specifically affect Black theater. We are dedicated to the preservation of Black theater--it's legacy and tradition--now and for future generations. Our mission is to support and cultivate artistic excellence, creativity and innovation among Black theaters, connecting people and communities to the arts with a continuum of experiences that reflect the virtuosity, creative and inclusive spirit of the arts.

Black theatres remain at the forefront of developing and sustaining African-American playwrights, directors, actors and other theater professionals. In 2010, McMillan-McCall became acutely aware that theatres across the country, especially historically African-American theatres, were struggling to stay afloat during the economic downturn. With this in mind, he partnered with other concerned individuals to bring attention and assistance to these mainstays of employment for theatre artists of color, and thus, PROJECT1VOICE was born.

Key members of the PROJECT1VOICE team areproducer/production manager Gwen Gilliam, award-winning playwright and director Charles Randolph-Wright, actor/producer Charles Reese (Teeth and Eyes Productions) and marketing consultant/producer Marcia Pendelton (Walk Tall Girl Productions).

“PROJECT1VOICE is shedding light on a universal problem by targeting a specific one...the plight of African American theaters.” McMillan-McCall said. “We want to have a longoverdue conversation about the loss of our creative voices with some long-term sustainable solutions to preserve their legacies.”

1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY readings of The Amen Corner will not only serve as fundraisers for the participating theaters, they will also act as community engagement events to further develop audiences, recruit volunteers, attract corporate and foundation funding, and seek in-kind goods and services.

Additional details about ticketing, directors, and casts for all readings will be announced at a later date.

For more information about PROJECT1VOICE, and to see interviews with theater luminaries such as prolific producer Woodie King, Jr., Tony-Award winner Adriane Lenox, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, visit www.project1voice.org.
______________________________________________________

About THE AMEN CORNER*
The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following "Go Tell It on the Mountain." It was first published in 1954, and inspired a short-lived 1983 Broadway musical adaptation with the slightly truncated title, Amen Corner.

The play addresses themes of the role of the church in the African-American family and the effect of a poverty born of racial prejudice on the African-American community.

The Amen Corner takes place in two settings: a ‘‘corner’’ church in Harlem and the apartment dwelling of Margaret Alexander, the church pastor, and of her son, David, and sister Odessa. After giving a fiery Sunday morning sermon, Margaret is confronted by the unexpected arrival of her long estranged husband, Luke, who collapses from illness shortly thereafter. Their son, David, along with several elders of the congregation, learn from Luke that, while Margaret had led everyone to believe that he had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left Luke in pursuit of a purely religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret and her son, her congregation, and her estranged husband, regarding what they see as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions, which she uses to justify the breakup of her family.

After an important conversation with his dying father, David informs Margaret that he is leaving home to pursue his calling as a jazz musician. On his deathbed, Luke declares to Margaret that he has always loved her, and that she should not have left him. Finally, Margaret’s congregation decides to oust her, based on their perception that she unjustly ruined her own family in the name of religion. Only after losing her son, her husband, and her congregation, does Margaret finally realize that she should not have used religion as an excuse to escape the struggles of life and love, but that ‘‘To love the Lord is to love all His children—all of them, everyone!—and suffer with them and rejoice with them and never count the cost!’’

*The Amen Corner permission granted by Samuel French, Inc. 45 West 25th Street New York, NY 10010

BIOS

James Baldwin (Playwright)

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain," appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays "Notes of a Native Son," was published the same year. A second collection of essays, "Nobody Knows My Name," was published in 1961 between his novels "Giovanni's Room" (1956) and "Another Country" (1961).

The appearance of "The Fire Next Time" in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that "The Fire Next Time" achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on "Nothing Personal," a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, "Going to Meet the Man," was published in 1965, and in 1968, "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone," his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: "No Name in the Street" (1972) and "The Devil Finds Work" (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling "If Beale Street Could Talk" (1974) and "Just Above My Head" (1979) and also a children's book "Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood" (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on "A Rap on Race" (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on "A Dialogue" (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, "Jimmy's Blues" (1983), and a final collection of essays, "The Price of the Ticket." Baldwin's last work, "The Evidence of Things Not Seen" (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Erich McMillan-McCall (Founder, PROJECT1VOICE) A native of Birmingham, AL. Erich McMillan-McCall received a BFA from Birmingham-Southern College. His Broadway credits include The Who’s Tommy and Chicago. He was part of the national tours of Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Dirty Dancin’. His television appearances include roles on“30 Rock”, “One Live to Live," “All My Children” and“Guiding Light." He has also worked in editorial fashion at Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Glamour Magazines.

NBC Universal Showcases Its Upcoming and Returning Shows



NBC Universal recently kicked off its Summer Press Day 2012 at the Langham Hotel in sunny Pasadena - rolling out its full roster of upcoming and returning shows, as well as its stars. 

Following are some of the day’s highlights.

Returning shows represented at today’s event included: T"he Voice," "Love in the Wild," "American Ninja Warrior," "Dream Machines," "Grimm," "Community," "Smash," "Eureka," "America’s Got Talent" and "Ready for Love".

However, new shows received equal time and included: "Mrs Eastwood & Company," "Saving Hope," "Ready for Love" and "Around the World in 80 Plates," a contestant driven, culinary competition that airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo.

Celebs on hand in support of their individual shows included: CeeLo Green, Blake Shelton, Carson Daly, executive producer Mark Burnett, Mariska Hargitay, Russell Hornsby, Yvette Nicole Brown, Nick Cannon, Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne, Eva Longoria, Curtis Stone, Cat Cora, Jim Rash, Joel McHale, Katherine McPhee, Megan Hilty, Colin Ferguson, Neil Grayston, Silas Weir Mitchell, David Giuntoli, Bitsie Tulloch, Matt Iseman, Jonny Moseley, Francesca Eastwood, Dina Eastwood, Morgan Eastwood, Ernie Bates, Shane Smith, Eduard Leonard, Emile Welman, Riaan Weyers, Valentino Ponsonby, Mark Parker, Shanon Parker, Daniel Gillies, Erica Durance and contestants from “Around the World in 80 Plates”.

Also on hand were the remaining contestants on the popular music program, “The Voice,” who expressed their surprise that they were still in the competition.  Judges on "The Voice," which is executive produced by Mark Burnett, include Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, Christian Aguilera and Blake Shelton.  The show airs Mondays at 8 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m.  The season finale is 8-10 p.m., Tues., May 8, with encore presentations on Saturdays on E! (6-8 p.m. ET)

CARSON DALY

The early elimination of popular contestant Jesse Campbell by his coach Christina Aguilera, was also up for discussion.  Carson Daly expressed shock.

“You could have heard a pin drop,” he said.

“We obviously have different coaching strategies,” said CeeLo of Aguilera’s surprise move.

Contestants expressed shock at remaining in the competition.

“Are you kidding,?” asked Jamar Rogers, who is on CeeLo’s team. “Yes, I’m surprised I’m still here especially coming from a history of drug abuse and just making bad decisions all the way around. You just start to believe things about yourself – like you’re not good enough. Who is ever gonna want to listen to you. Who is ever going to want to touch you?

Rogers said he appreciates the premise of "The Voice".

“I like" The Voice" because it’s given me my voice,” says Rogers. “I was just living in the Bronx doing charity work. I wasn’t thinking about being in a swanky place like this. I used to serve in places like this. It’s given me a platform to let people know that their yesterday does not determine their future.”

Rogers, who has been sober for six years, has admitted to being a former drug addict.

JERMAINE PAUL

Jermaine Paul, who is on Blake Shelton’s team is also surprised he is still in the competition. Paul, a married father of four, was a back-up singer for Alicia Keys and Mary J Blige.

“You know in this competition you have no choice but to be surprised,” said Paul. “Every step of the way, you never know what’s going to happen. We saw that on Monday. You never know what’s going to happen, what coaches are thinking or what their vision is for their team.”

When asked who they thought was the front-runner, Blake Shelton, who was the only one to address the question, said, “Team Blake.”

Shelton, who is married to country singer, Miranda Lambert, said a former contestant from earlier in the season, Gwen Sebastian, is currently touring with him as a backup singer.

Rumors are swirling that "The Voice" will have a fall season. Although he said he has yet to hear from the network, Carson Daly said he hoped the rumors were true.

“We’d be thrilled by that,” said Daly.

CEELO GREEN

When asked whether he thought he would have done well on "The Voice" when he was first starting out, CeeLo Green said, “It would be interesting to say the least.”

Blake Shelton said he didn’t think he’d do well, calling himself a “one-trick pony”.

“I think I’d do well and then I’d suck,” he said.

When asked who he thought was the front-runner, Daly said he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know,” said Daly. “It’s a much wider spread than it was last year. I think the moment Javier opened his mouth and sang ‘Time After Time’ last year, that everyone said, ‘ok, there’s your winner there.’ It’s tough. The competition is really strong.  CeeLo is going to be the one to watch.  It’s going to go down to Juliet Simms and Jamar Rogers, who are going to have to go against each other at some time. They are both on his team. That’s a moment to look for.”

This season The Voice added a new dimension, allowing judges to eliminate a player instantly.   Christina Aguilera caused a stir when she eliminated, Jesse Campbell, who was considered by many, including some of the judges, the singer to beat.

“It’s, I really didn’t think I was going to like it,” said Daly. “But now I like it. By bringing that element into the show, I think it upped the ante.”

MARISKA HARGITAY

Dressed chicly in an orange top and skirt, veteran actress Mariska Hargitay, the star of “Law & Order: SVU,” said she was both surprised and not surprised that the show has lasted for 13 years.

“The reason the show is so successful and done so well is because of the level of commitment and investment.,” said Hargitay. “After 10 years, I love it. It’s so much fun. When Dick Wolf puts on a television show, he raises the bar of quality.”

“Law & Order: SVU” airs 10-11 p.m. Wednesdays. The season finale is May 23.

LOVE IN THE WILD

Jenny McCarthy, the new host of the adventure show, “Love in the Wild,” said, ironically, she was the only one on the show that got hurt.

“I pulled a hamstring sleeping,” laughed McCarthy. “I came out on crutches.”

McCarthy, who said she wouldn’t do the show now because she is “interested in someone,” said she likes the premise of the show.

“In this show you are forced to see who the person is as soon as we put them in the adventure,” said McCarthy. “So you see who that person is. We’re saving them years, so to speak. “  She wouldn’t do the show now because “I’m interested in someone.”

Love in the Wild’s two-hour premiere is Thurs., June 7 (8-10 p.m.). Its regular schedule is Thursdays at 9 p.m.

MRS. EASTWOOD

Dina Eastwood, the wife of actor/producer Clint Eastwood, is the lead in the new reality show, “Mrs. Eastwood & Company,” set to premiere on E! Sun., May 20.

The show features Eastwood, her daughter, Morgan, her stepdaughter, Francesca, as well as a six-member boy band from South Africa called Overtone.  Eastwood, who will be seen in a couple of episodes, will not be featured on the show.

Dina Eastwood revealed the reason she wanted to do the reality show was to give the band a platform.  She stressed how the band, which lives with the family on and off, has literally become part of the clan.

Dina Eastwood first became aware of the band when she accompanied her husband, Clint, to South Africa when he was shooting Invictus, which starred Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela.

“I went to a ladies night out and saw these boys and when they opened their mouth and sang,” said Eastwood, a former television reporter who has been married to Eastwood for 16 years. I said they had to perform for Morgan, Matt and Clint. Since then I’ve become their manager and their momager for the last three years.”

When asked about the living arrangements in a home with two teenage daughters and six attractive men, Eastwood said there was never a problem.

“It was adorable,” We all got together, 15 and 12, no problem,” she said. “Too young. The youngest on of my guys at the time was 20. Big difference. Not so much now. Yes, ma’am, no ma’am. They eat tacos with a knife and fork. They carried my groceries. There was no sneaking around of any sort with my kids. Tey would stay in our house in the spare bedrooms.  Clint would put them in the houses on the lot. We have two houses on the lot. We have a manager’s unit. They would live in the manager’s unit. The living arrangements were never awkward, never weird. It’s always been a sister/mom relationship.”

RUSSELL HORNSBY

Russell Hornsby, who stars on the drama, “Grimm,” said he loves working on the show because he loves procedurals.

“I also liked the script,” said Hornsby, who is also an accomplished theater actor. “I like traversing both worlds he said regarding going from theater to television.”

When asked if he has any plans to do theater soon, Hornsby, who said he’s never had a connection with anything paranormal and that he’s not afraid said, “I hope not. This is a great family.”

Grimm airs Fridays 9-10 p.m. ET

However, he wanted to make it clear that he still loves the theater.

“Oh, I’d love to do more theater,” he said. “It’s just that I don’t want Grimm to end. Theater requires a time commitment that I don’t have right now.”

Yvette Nicole Brown, who stars as Shirley on the show, "Community," said she would like her character to succeed in her independence and pursue her dreams of opening a sandwich shop of bakery business when the show closes out.

JOEL MCHALE, YVETTE NICOLE BROWN & JIM RASH 
star in "COMMUNITY"

Community airs Thursdays 8-8:30 p.m. ET

She would also like to work more with Joel McHale and Donald Glover.  She  would never go on Dancing With The Stars. If you see me on that show, something has gone terribly wrong. I don’t dance in public.




Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TERRENCE J and REGINA HALL star in the comedy, "THINK LIKE A MAN," opening nationwide April 20



The movie, "Think Like A Man," adapted from Steve Harvey's book, 'Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man,' is set to open nationwide April 20. I recently caught up with two of the stars, Terrence J (TJ) and Regina Hall (RH), to talk about the film.

Q: You play the mama's boy in the movie, and you do it very well. Have you ever been that much of a mama's boy in real life?

TJ: I'm like the opposite. I'm like the dad sometimes. Me and my mom are really good friends. I have the greatest, sweetest mom in the world and I protect her and coddle her, but it’s the reverse. I'm like (my character) Duke, the protective son, but it was a lot of fun working with Jenifer Lewis.

Q: Regina, your character is a single mother having a difficult to decision to bring a man into your son's life. Did you talk with people about what's the right thing to do in that situation?

RH: That whole storyline comes from the book. Steve's advice is if you're a mom and you think this guy has any potential you need to introduce him to your son right away because if he doesn't like your son, or you son doesn't like him, your relationship can't go anywhere. In the first scene after their date she hesitates and decides to introduce them. Tim set up the dynamic when they meet in the bookstore. There's a slight assumption that maybe he won't want to go out with her because she has a child. When he says they'll just make it dinner, that's when she decides that maybe this guy is different. I don't have children yet, but I have friends and that's always a dilemma. I understood when I read the book, I never thought like that as a woman, I guess you can't do that because that becomes your priority, so you have to make sure that relationship can be wonderful even before your own.

Q: Had you read the book prior to filming?

TJ: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s very point on. Even with the mama's boy thing, I had dated a girl for almost a year and she protected me from meeting her kid for almost a year; and then when I met the kid it didn't work because you're adding in a whole different dynamic. A lot of the things in the book, from the player to the mama's boy to the non-commiter to the dreamer, these are men that women meet every single day and it holds up a mirror to society. There's a little bit of us in all these characters and so I definitely related to it. How about you?

RH: I definitely agree with some of the things in the book. I'm a woman, so I'm annoyed that some of the things are true. (laughs) It's just how men think, they think differently. In terms of our character its true, you have to know what its like to date a single mother, and the child is going to be more a part of it than its not. Yet, if I were giving advice to a girlfriend I'd go, "NO! You've only been out with him three times, you can't let him meet your kid yet." My brothers always say, "stop asking your girlfriends for relationship advice, ask me." It makes perfect sense to him. Ask three men the exact same thing, age, race, it's a general answer that they all have that's so gender specific. A penis effects the brain. (laughs)

TJ: What segway is that going to be?

Q: There's a 90-day rule in the movie. What do you guys think about that?

RH: There's certain people who need the 90-day rule. There is an emotional intelligence that some people have more of where you can know who this guy is and what he's about. I've had girlfriends where it’s obvious that her guy was no good but they're like "He didn't call me." Outside that I always think that's good. Men are hunters, and they like to wait on a very subconscious level.

TJ: If it's worth it we will wait, that's what it boils down to. I'm in a relationship right now so I'm biased, so it doesn't affect me now. "Make 'em wait 90 days!" I have some friends that work with me at the job and they're young, 21 or 22-years-old, and they get into these failed relationships because they're having sex too early. I tell my baby sisters that they need to make him wait, or don't make me go over there and talk to him for you. So now its good in that regard that we can say read the book or see this movie and you see the difference in Meagan Good's character on makin' a man wait as opposed to giving it up on the first date.

RH: Sometimes as a woman you realize after 90-days that you don't want to sleep with him!

TJ: Whether Steve approves, let's say 60-to-90!

(l-r) TERRENCE J and REGINA HALL

Q: How was working on this ensemble picture?

RH: Everyone on this movie liked each other, genuinely, loved everyone in the cast. Loved Taraji. All the guys, even though I didn't get to work with them regularly except for our big scenes. It was really happy to go to work, from the moment we got there to going inside the trailer, to being on set. Loved the director, the DPs, crew.

TJ: I couldn't agree more. For me this was my first big feature so I was nervous because I look up to everybody, from Taraji to Regina to Ealy to Gabby. They're all established actors and I didn't know how they would treat me, if they would be telling me to be the waterboy. I didn't know the set protocol, so for everybody to embrace me and help me… I would pull Ealy to the side and ask him to help me on the flow of a scene he would just pull me into his trailer and mentor me. I could say that about every person on this set where they gave me something that showed on the screen. I'm grateful to Tim and Steve and Will Packer and everybody, especially this cast, 'cause it's a very intimidating and challenging job to be around such talented people.

Q: When did you meet the screenwriters? They really had their pulse on the way men and women interact.

RH: I didn't actually meet them until after, at the wrap party.

TJ: Really? I met them at the second tableread.

RH: That makes sense. That I think is great is it doesn't read specifically like a black film. You could put a white cast in that move… you're still going to need Kevin Hart… and you're still going to get the universal theme of love and friendship. The fact that they didn't necessarily write it for a black voice comes from an African American cast doing it. That's what makes it much more crossover and stand specifically to romantic comedies in recent years. They did have their finger on the pulse.

TJ: If you'd have plugged in the guys from "Hangover" and the girls from "Sex In The City," you still would have needed Kevin and Romany Malco, but the script was applicable.

RH: They felt like they were all friends, you never questioned it, even in the jokes, you never questioned it.

Q: You told Will Packer you were going to be in one of his movies one day, and here you are. How does that feel?

TJ: It feels amazing, but I always tell people that it takes ten years to become an overnight success. For every one job I got I got told "no" a hundred times. Castings, auditions, 100 experiences before you get that 1 "yes". I'm in a state of awe. Sometimes when Regina walks into the room I'm like, "Aww, 'Scary Movie'!" I'm still a fan. I work hard and I'm very persistent about getting jobs. I'm on the grind.

Q: Do you have anything coming up next?

RH: As far as acting I have something I'm in negotiations for right now, we'll see how that goes. I have a few little ventures on my own. I'm doing a documentary about my trip to the Sahara and the Muslim women there, the Saharwis, and they actually are first, the leaders. They have their own organizations, and they wear the head covering but they wear it back 'cause it's sexier. The more divorces you've had is like a status symbol, like you've been through something.