Check out my exclusive UPFRONT interview with Academy Award-nominated actor Edward Norton as we discuss his new film Motherless Brooklyn. It features Norton as a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s syndrome who tries to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.
Motherless Brooklyn also stars Bruce Willis, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Michael K. Williams.
The soundtrack also features the music of jazz icon Wynton Marsalis.
During our conversation, we discussed casting for the film, Norton’s role as star and writer/director and his admiration for Spike Lee.
Check out my UPFRONT coverage from Wednesday night’s Atlanta premiere of Deon Taylor‘s new cop thriller Black and Blue. The screening was held at the historic Plaza Theater in Midtown and was attended by Taylor along with the film’s stars Naomie Harris, Tyrese Gibson, Nafessa Williams and Lucky Johnson.
In Black and Blue, Harris plays a rookie cop who inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Gibson) as she tries to escape both the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage. Rounding out the Black and Blue cast is Frank Grillo, Mike Colter, Reid Scott and Beau Knapp.
Other notables in attendance included Clifton Powell, Cocoa Brown, Brely Evans, Mike Merrill, Marquita Goings, Reece Odom and T.C. Carson.
The stars aligned on Sunday evening for the exclusive Atlanta premiere of Tyler Perry‘s new BET series SISTAS and THE OVAL. The private event took place at the posh new event venue—The Southern Exchange.
As previously reported, SISTAS follows a group of single black females from different walks of life who bond over their one common thread: why am I single? The series is led by four brown beauties: KJ Smith, Ebony Obsidian, Mignon Von and Novi Brown.
Tyler Perry + SISTAS cast
SISTAS also features some dope brothers as well including DeVale Ellis, Chido Nwokocha, Anthony Dalton, Brian Jordan Jr., and Kevin A. Walton.
Tyler Perry’s other series—THE OVAL—tells the story of a family placed in the White House by people of power while also highlighting the personal side and everyday lives of the staff who run the inner workings of the nation’s most iconic residence.
THE OVAL stars Ed Quinn, Kron Moore, Paige Hurd, Daniel Croix Henderson, Javon Johnson, Ptosha Storey, Vaughn Hebron, Teesha Renee, Lodric Collins, Ciera Payton, Taja V. Simpson, Walter Fauntleroy, Brad Benedict, Travis Cure and Matthew Law.
Other notables in attendance for the premiere included BET President Scott Mills, Tyler Perry Studios President Michelle Sneed, Tyler Perry Studios Vice President Mark Swinton plus actress Bresha Webb, actress Dawn Halfkenny, actress and director Terri J. Vaughn, RHOA diva Marlo Hampton and HAHN actress Crystal Fox.
See the full gallery below:
SISTAS premieres TONIGHT night at 9 p.m. followed by THE OVAL at 10 p.m. on BET.
The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) continues its partnership with Turner Classic Movies (TCM) with a special celebration of the films of Motown. Last year the two teamed up to present The Black Experience on Film, putting diversity and inclusion in cinema at the forefront with a month of programming on TCM curated and hosted by AAFCA members. This year, the two have rejoined forces for AAFCA Presents: Motown Productions on October 22, featuring AAFCA member Christopher Witherspoon, who joins TCM host Alicia Malone to screen and discuss the classic Motown films THE LAST DRAGON, LADY SINGS THE BLUES and MAHOGANY.
“We are thrilled to extend our relationship with Turner Classic Movies showcasing the cinematic universe of Motown,” said AAFCA President/CEO Gil Robertson. “Motown chairman Berry Gordy is a visionary known for creating the soundtrack to American life, but his cinematic contributions are largely unsung, and they shouldn’t be. Fueled by Gordy’s creative genius and bold vision, Motown Productions offered the world a chance to see images of Black life that had never been seen before: a Black Kung Fu master, a Black female model and designer and a timeless biopic of the legendary Billie Holiday that earned Diana Ross an Oscar® nomination. It’s just incredible.”
“TCM’s mission is to showcase films with context and curation, and we are so pleased the experts at AAFCA are joining us again this year to highlight the importance and originality of Motown Productions, the extension of Gordon’s Motown Records music label,” said Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming & production, TCM. “We are proud that this partnership will continue to bring both important programming and a critical perspective to our audiences.”
Check out Ms. Ross’ mesmerizing Lady Sings the Blues performance of “Good Morning Heartache” below:
This weekend’s edition of UPFRONT is all about #BlackBoyJoy. It features my conversations with Troy Powell, artistic director of Ailey II, Ronald Williams from The Collective Culture and media sensation Patrick L. Riley.
Ronald Williams is here to chat about the upcoming stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ best selling book Between the World and Me. The event takes place this Tuesday, October 22 at Atlanta’s Symphony Hall and features a who’s who list of talent including Lynn Whitfield, T.I., Killer Mike, Ledisi, Omar J. Dorsey, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Pauletta Washington and more. Between the World and Me is Coates’ attempt to answer life’s questions in a letter to his adolescent son. The event is being presented by The Apollo Theater, The Collective Culture + NBAF (National Black Arts Festival).
Artistic Director of Ailey II—Troy Powell—is here to chat about their upcoming Atlanta engagement at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State. The evening will feature new works from Bradley Shelver, Andrea Miller and former Ailey dancer Kirven Douthit-Boyd. Yours truly will be hosting a conversation with Troy following the performance.
Closing out UPFRONT is my conversation with producer, media star and WCLK alumnus Patrick L. Riley. He stopped by to chat about his new book, That’s What Friends Are For: On the Women Who Inspired Me. It chronicles his relationships with some of the biggest DIVAS in music, TV, film and stage including Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Taraji P. Henson, Vanessa Williams and Wendy Williams.
Listen to my full unedited conversation below and CLICK HERE for the entire UPFRONT show:
Check out my behind-the-scenes UPFRONT coverage of #TheReelDivas photo shoot that was featured on DEADLINE.COM this week. The glossy image has generated a lot of buzz on social media and includes 20 of Georgia’s most prominent black women filmmakers, producers, directors, content creators and actresses.
The event was conceived by writer, producer and filmmaker Cas Sigers-Beedles (BET’s Angrily Ever After and TV One’s When Love Kills) and was inspired by the star-studded photo shoots in Vanity Fair’s annual “Hollywood Issue.” She along with producer extraordinaire Ty Johnston-Chavis (Atlanta Pitch Summit) reached out to women like actress and director Jasmine Guy (A Different World, Grey Anatomy), director and filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper (Versailles ’73) and producer Dianne Ashford (Ambitions).
The event took place on a Sunday morning in September at Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center and was photographed by Donna Permell.
Other #ReelDivas members include: Terri J. Vaughn (Actress + Director + Producer), Rhonda Baraka (Writer +Director), Denise Hendricks (Producer), Gieva Stinchcomb (Producer), Star Smith (Line Producer), Wanda Shelly (Executive Producer), Autumn Bailey Ford (Producer), Angi Bones (Executive Producer + Director), Samantha Ramirez-Herrera (Content Creator), Tammy Garnes (Producer + Actress), Wendy Eley Jackson (Writer + Producer), Angela Barnes Gomes (Writer + Director), Tamra Simmons (Executive Producer), Shante Paige (Producer), Lisa “Captain” Cunningham (Writer + Producer + Director).
More star power has been added to the stage adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ Between the World and Me event slated for this Tuesday October 22 at Atlanta’s historic Symphony Hall.
Greenleaf actress Lynn Whitfield and Queen Sugar‘s Omar Dorsey will join previously announced stars T.I., Killer Mike, Ledisi, Pauletta Washington and Marc Bamuthi Joseph.
Between the World and Me is Coates’ attempt to answer questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder.
A live reading of his book was first done last spring at the Apollo Theater and featured a who’s who of star performers including Angela Bassett, Joe Morton, Black Thought, Common and Susan Kelechi Watson from NBC’s This Is Us.
The show was conceived and produced by the Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes and includes a jazz score by Jason Moran.
The Atlanta production is presented by the Apollo Theater and The Collective Culture.
NBC’S hit series Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med are uniting as “One Chicago” in a major three-hour television event beginning at 8 p.m. EST. The “crossover” episode will feature all three casts as they battle a weaponized, flesh-eating bacteria that has invaded the windy city during a tail-gating party at Soldier Field.
My arts and entertainment show—UPFRONT—was invited to NBC’s One Chicago Press Day last week where I interviewed cast members about tonight’s historic event.
Chicago P.D. star LaRoyce Hawkins talks about his excitement over the episode while Chicago Med stars S. Epatha Merkerson and Oliver Platt talk about the unpredictability of filming such a huge production. Writer and producer Derek Haas also opens up about the creative writing process of a “crossover” episode and working closely with series creator and TV icon Dick Wolf.
In addition to the interviews, I also participated in set demonstrations where I helped save a life from a burning apartment with Chicago Fire, solve a murder mystery with Chicago P.D. and assist in the emergency room with Chicago Med.
Check out UPFRONT below + photos + the exciting “CrossOver” trailer:
This weekend’s edition of #UPFRONT is fiyah from start to finish.
It features my interviews with LaRoyce Hawkins, S. Epatha Merkerson and more from NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med in preparation of their three-hour televised “crossover” event airing this Wednesday October 16 at 8 p.m.
#UPFRONT also talks exclusively to A Different World actress Jasmine Guy as she remembers her #TVMom and entertainment icon Diahann Carroll, who passed away last week. She recalls her relationship with the Oscar-nominated actress on and off the screen as well as the valuable lessons she learned from her about being a black women in Hollywood.
Check out images from the recent L.A. premiere of filmmakers Lena Waithe and Melina Matsoukas new feature Queen & Slim. The star-studded event took place at The Underground Museum and was hosted by Grammy Award winning singer and fashionista Solange.
Attendees included: Kelly Rowland (Singer), Lance Gross (Actor, Star), Michael Ealy (Actor, Being Mary Jane), Miguel & his wife Nazanin Mandi (Musician), Kendrick Sampson (Actor, Insecure), Keith Powers (The New Edition Story), DeWanda Wise (Actress, She’s Gotta Have It), Estelle (Musician), Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Gabrielle Dennis (Actress, A Black Lady Sketch Show), Logan Browning (Actress, Dear White People), Will Catlett (Actor, Black Lightning) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, (Actor, US) Y’lan Noel (Actor, insecure), Etienne Maurice (Actor + filmmaker), Isis King (Actress, When They See Us) and many more.
Queen & Slim focuses on a couple’s first date that goes awry when the man kills a police officer in self-defense. Terrified and in fear for their lives, the man, a retail employee, and the woman, a criminal defense lawyer, are forced to go on the run. It features Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine and POSE actress Indya Moore.
Following the screening was a discussion hosted by film critic Elvis Mitchell.
Thousands gathered this past Sunday afternoon in Atlanta’s historic Piedmont Park for the 8th Annual Pure Heat Community Festival during Black Pride Weekend.
The free cultural event also known as a “day of unity” is designed to bring together the spirit of the community, pride and vision. This year’s highlights included an appearance by triple threat performer, entrepreneur and transgender advocate Angelica Ross. She received the “Trailblazing Award” and was recognized for her role as Candy on the uberly popular FX series Pose. Songbird Tweet was also honored with the “Legacy Award” for her outstanding contributions to music and pop culture.
Stacy Abrams made her festival debut with empowering words for the LGBTQI++ community as part of her “Fair Fight 2020” campaign.
Other notables included Crystal Fox from Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots, Jack Mizrahi from Pose, reality star and noted hair stylist Derek J and dance choreographer Sean Bankhead.
“The Pure Heat Community Festival is honored that the city of Atlanta welcomed us back for an 8th year. It is our goal to create a safe, fun, family environment for all. We take pride in honoring trailblazers like Angelica Ross and Tweet.” says The Vision Community Foundation deputy director, Avian Watson.
Previous festival honorees include entertainers K. Michelle, Sevyn Streeter, Brandy, Kelly Price, Ray J, Monica, Tiny and more. The annual hair battle, j-sette competition, gospel choir, house-music DJ and fashion show are set to return all live from the main-stage.
Superstar recipient of this year’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Missy Elliott, may have set the VMA’s and social media on fire with her show-stopping performance this week, but the post-show celebration in her honor was nothing short of spectacular.
Elliott’s long-time manager, Mona Scott-Young, along with nightlife entrepreneur Unik Ernest curated the star-studded event which hosted an impressive list of guests: Queen Latifah, Cardi B, Lizzo, Lil’ Kim, Oscar winner Regina King, tennis star Novak Djokovic, Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger (world champion US Women’s soccer team), Ice-T and Coco, Blac Chyna, Lil’ Mama, Dave East, Victor Cruz, Naturi Naughton, Winnie Harlow and Myx Fusions CEO Peter Reaske were among the elite who came out to celebrate with Elliott. Celebrity DJ Mary Mac 5 Star kept the energy high as guests partied into the wee hours.
“We wanted to celebrate Missy, and honor her success and contributions to the culture, so where better to do that than a place inspired by her genius and creativity,” says Scott-Young. “Words can’t express how proud I am of Missy. She is an icon and truly deserves to be celebrated.”
The event was held at “The Museum of Missy Elliott,” an interactive pop-up playground that allowed guests to engage in the most memorable and iconic moments from Elliott’s music videos. The concept boasted a live hologram experience where guests could record a gif of themselves performing to Elliott’s hit classic “The Rain,” while virtually wearing her signature inflated trash bag. The immersive activation was powered by VNTANA.
Special thanks to Marilyn Van Alstyne of EMVE Management Group and event supporters Pepsi, MTV VMA’s, Myx Fusions, Bartenura, Cîroc, Courvoisier, Quay, Picsart and Monami Entertainment.
Elliott’s latest project, Iconology, is available now on all streaming platforms.