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A Record Number of Black Actors receive Emmy Nominations…TAKE A LOOK!

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards were announced Thursday and  African-American actors and actresses received a record number of nominations including Taraji P. HensonCicely Tyson, Viola Davis, Don Cheadle, Anthony Anderson and more.

Queen Latifah’s passion project, BESSIE earned 12 nods including “Outstanding TV Film” while Key & Peele racked up six and Fox’s Empire received three. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s On the Run also picked up one for Outstanding Special Class Program.

Other nominees include David Oyelowo for his role in HBO’s Nightingale and Niecy Nash for work on HBO’s Getting On. The comedic actress was on the set of the show when she received the exciting news. She posted an emotional Instagram video with the following caption:

“Omg!!!!I’m so lucky I got this news on a tv show that I have to look ugly for because it will help me”! Lol Tears of Joy! Thank u for all the well wishes! I was filming Getting On when the show runners announced it on set and I wept. This is crazy!!!! God is so good. Congrats to all the nominees #GettingOn #HBO #BLESSED”

Regina King, Khandi Alexander, Mo’Nique, Andre Braugher, Titus Burgess, Dee Reese, Angela Bassett and Uzo Aduba round out the list of nominees.

Click here to see the full list and press release!

The 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards will air on September 20 on FOX!

CONGRATS!

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RC Exclusive - Ent

HBO & GA Film Office host Atlanta Premiere of ‘BESSIE’ [PHOTOS]

Written by | Ray Cornelius 

I had the pleasure of attending a private screening Monday night for the new HBO film, “Bessie” starring Queen Latifah, Mo’Nique and Tika Sumpter. The advanced screening was held at the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University and was hosted by the film’s producer Shelby Stone and the film’s star Tory Kittles. “Bessie” also features Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander and Mike Epps.

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 “Bessie” actors Tory Kittles and Sylvester James

“Bessie” stars Latifah as legendary blues singer and actress Bessie Smith. The film, which took 22 years to make, takes an intimate look at the determined woman, whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend. The film was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees of “Pariah” fame and is executive produced by Latifah’s Flavor Unit. Smith was known as the “Empress of the Blues” and influenced such illustrious singers as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Janis Joplin and Nina Simone.

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 Jasmine Burke, Jasmine Guy and Shelby Stone

A  number of Atlanta celebrities were in attendance including film and stage actresses, Donna Bisco and Maria Howell; legendary casting director, Reuben Cannon and his wife, “Drumline 2” actress, Jasmine Burke; “Living Single” actor, T.C. Carson, “A Different World” star, Jasmine Guy; comedic actor, Rodney Perry; Bronze Lens Film Festival Founder, Kathleen Bertrand, media personality, Karyn Greer; and actress, Tammy McGarity.

“Bessie” was film mostly in the Atlanta metropolitan area and featured a number of recognizable singers, actors and  jazz musicians including Kamryn Johnson, Sylvester JamesJoe Knezevich, Reggie Hines, Joe GransdenDashill Smith and more.

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After the screening I attended a private dinner with HBO and the film’s stars at the Ritz Carlton. I also received a “Bessie” pocket watch and one of the film’s iconic posters with Tory Kittles signature.

My2Cents: “Bessie” will do for Queen Latifah, what “The Josephine Baker Story” did for Lynn Whitfield. Latifah nailed this role and should receive an Emmy nomination for Best Actress. The film tells the story of an amazingly talented woman who was unapologetic about who she was and who she loved. Her music was wrought in pain but opened a door for so many African-American singers, we deem legendary, to walk through. Casting is always king for any film and I believe the actors chosen for their respective roles were “right on the money.” Kudos to HBO and Latifah! I can’t wait for it to premiere on May 16.”

Check out more photos below and along with the film’s trailer:

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 Dresses worn by Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique were on display in the theater’s lobby

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Actresses Maria Howell and Donna Bisco

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Comedic actor Rodney Perry

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 Actress Tammy McGarity

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 T.C. Carson and Jasmine Guy

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Reuben Cannon and his wife

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 “Bessie” actors Kamryn Johnson and Sylvester James

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 BLFF’s Kathleen Bertrand with Karyn Greer

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 Author Mary “Honey B” Morrison with Christal Jordan of Enchanted PR

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 ATL Notables: Jacquee Mnor, Kemi Bennings, Margaret Kargbo, Leatrice Ellzy & Imara Canady

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 “Bessie” actors Tory Kittles, Sylvester James and Reggie Hines

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“Bessie” producer Shelby Stone bringing greetings before the screening

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Queen Latifah delivered a special message to the Atlanta audience before the show

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Donna Bisco with “Bessie” actor Joe Knezevich

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“Bessie” received a proclamation from the City of Atlanta

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Dancer/actor  Juel D. Lane

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AAFCA’s Gil Robertson and  Georgia Film Office’s Asante Bradford

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Maria Howell, Brad James and Donna Bisco

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Attendees received free refreshments

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“Bessie” actors

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“Bessie” actors, singers and dancers

BESSIE premieres on HBO May 16th

Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com

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Recap

WATCH HBO’s ‘Bessie’ Trailer + 7 Character Profiles (VIDEOS)

Posted by |Ray Cornelius 

In preparation for the debut of the original movie, “Bessie,” HBO has released the film’s first trailer as well as seven character profiles from the film’s actors including Queen Latifah, Michael K. Williams, Tika Sumpter, Khandi Alexander, MoNique, Mike Epps and Tory Kittles.

As previously reported, “Bessie” is an intimate look at the determined woman [Bessie Smith], whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend.”

“Bessie” premieres on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m. Check out all the videos below:

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Photo Credit: HBO.com

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Recap

FIRST LOOK at HBO’s ‘Bessie’ starring Queen Latifah, MoNique + More [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

HBO has released some FIRST LOOK photos of Queen Latifah as legendary blues singer, Bessie Smith in the upcomng biopic, “Bessie.” The highly anticipated film will premiere on Saturday, May 16 at 8 p.m.

As previously reported, “Bessie” is being described as “an intimate look at the determined woman, whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame, capturing her professional highs and personal lows, and ultimate legend.”

“I have been excited about this project since the very beginning. When HBO got involved, we were thrilled and we worked together to make something that would capture Bessie’s life honestly and respectfully,” stated Queen Latifah.

Joining her on the screen are Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique.

Check out the photos below:

Mo

 Mo’Nique

Photo Two

 Michael Kenneth Williams

Photo One

Khandi Alexander

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 Queen Latifah as BESSIE

 Photo Credits: IndieWire.com

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RC Exclusive - Ent

AAFCA Honors Tyler Perry, Chadwick Boseman, ‘SELMA’ and more [PHOTOS]

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Celebrities and executives across the entertainment industry spectrum of film, television and new media converged at the Taglvan Complex in Hollywood Wednesday night for the 6th Annual African American Critics Association (AFFCA) Awards Ceremony.  Celebrating the best in directing, screenwriting, acting and producing; AFFCA Awards attendees included Ava DuVernay (Director, Selma), Oprah Winfrey, Alfre Woodard,Tyler Perry, Kathryn Bigelow and Amy Pascal (Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment).

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

Tyler Perry, Ava DuVernay and John Singleton

AAFCA presenters and honorees in attendance included producer Stephanie Allain, receiving the Legacy Award; producer Debra Martin Chase, accepting the Ashley Boone Award; Chadwick Boseman, accepted the Best Ensemble award on behalf of the cast of Get On UpJ.K. Simmons, who accepted the award for Best Supporting Actor in Whiplash;  presenter Khandi Alexander of Scandal; presenter Mike Epps of Survivor’s Remorse; David Oyelowo winner of Best Actor for his critically-acclaimed performance in Selma; Tessa Thompson winning the Best Breakout Star in Dear White People and Effie Brown who was honored with the Best Independence Award for Producing Dear White People.

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

Robi Reed, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha Raw and Wendy Raquel Robinson

Additional honorees and attendees included Roger Ebert award recipient Susan King (LA Times), Best Screenplay winner Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights), and husband writer Reggie Rock Bythewood; honoree and presenter Chaz Ebert; producer/director Will Packer; actor Dondre Whitfield; presenter Edwina Findley; actor Andre Royo; Disney Channel’s Gary Marsh; actor/comedian Bill Bellamy; presenter Wendy Raquel Robinson; and directors Julie Dash and Neema Barnette among others.

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay and Tessa Thompson

“We are so pleased that people have come away from watching Selma in tears,”said Oprah Winfrey in her triumphant acceptance speech for the film’s Best Film win. “We’re honored to receive this award from AAFCA. We won best picture!”

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

Salli Richardson as Lena Horne

The Awards ceremony, produced by Gil Robertson, AFFCA Co-Founder, was expertly guided by host Nischelle Turner of Entertainment Tonight, and opened up with a rousing musical performance from Salli Richardson Whitfield from her upcoming project on screen and stage legend Lena Horne.  The night was the culmination of the Association’s weekend of events including a private invitation-only dinner and a business panel that stands as the premiere acknowledgement of the African-Americans contribution to this year’s American cinema.

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

 Chaz Ebert and Deborah Riley Draper with other AAFCA Honorees and Presenters

“I have to thank my African-American sister, (Ava DuVernay) who told me that I could play the role of Martin Luther King Jr. when I didn’t believe I could do it,” said David Oyelowo in his acceptance speech as Best Actor in Selma. “And my African-American mother (Oprah Winfrey)…..who after a day of shooting told me get off the phone and go to bed. There is so much LOVE here.”

The energy of family and love was contagious in the standing-room-only kudos-fest, as attendees hugged and reconnected. J.K. Simmons noted how much he looked forward to meeting Tyler Perry and joked in his acceptance speech for Best Supporting actor, “Are you sure this wasn’t a clerical error?”

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 John Singleton, Gil Robertson, Ava DuVernay and RZA

“I couldn’t be more thrilled by the opportunity to honor some of the years best performances, some of which have not been recognized by other major award shows,” said Robertson. “The prevailing feeling in the room of gratitude, celebration and kinship of all in attendance will be looked at as a significant high point of this year’s award season.”

Check out more photos below:

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 Gugu Mbatha Raw/David Oyelowo

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 Ava DuVernay/Tyler Perry

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Gina Prince-Bythewood/Will “Power” Packer

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 Giovanni Watson & Yesi Ortiz/Khandi Alexander

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 Roger Bobb/J.K. Simmons

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Jonathan Chase, Kendra C. Johnson and Andre Hall/Michelle and Mike Epps

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

Gil Robertson with Chaz Ebert, Chadwick Boseman and Khandi Alexander

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

 Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

 Tessa Thompson, Alfre Woodard, Rocky Carroll, Robi Reed, Gugu Mbatha Raw, RZA and others

6TH Annual Africcn American Film Critics Association Awards

 Neema Barnett, Ava DuVernay and Julie Dash

Photo Credits: AAFCA.com

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Recap

JUST BECUZ…

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

SHE’S BAACCK!

Khandi Alexander aka Mama Pope will return to ABC’s Scandal on a the mid-season finale set for November 20. According to IW, the episode is titled, “Where the Sun Don’t Shine” and will be directed by Tony Goldwyn, the actor who plays President Fitzgerald Grant on the show.

Alexander’s vile and most feared character was supposedly executed for the murder of President Grant’s son. However, it appears they have kept her alive but for what reason? Leave it to creator, Shonda Rhimes to add a “head scratching” twist to season finale!

Stay tuned…

Photo Credit: ThatGrapeJuice.com

 

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Recap

Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps & Charles S. Dutton added to ‘Bessie Smith’ biopic

Posted by | Ray Cornelius 

Indie Wire is reporting that ‘Have and Have Nots’ vixen, Tika Sumpter has been added to the all-star cast of the upcoming Bessie Smith biopic, ‘Blue Goose Hollow.’ The 30-something-year-old beauty will play Lucille, a singer in Smith’s troupe.

Also added to the cast are comedic actor, Mike Epps, who will play Richard Morgan, a love interest for Smith and veteran actor, Charles S. Dutton, who will play William “Pa” Rainey.

As previously reported, talk show host and Oscar-nominated actress, Queen Latifah will star as the famed blues singer who sung her way to superstardom during the 1920’s. Oscar-winning actress and original ‘Queen of Comedy,’ Mo’Nique will play Ma Rainey and Scandal’s  Khandi Alexander will star as Smith’s oldest sister, Viola.

The film is currently being shot in Atlanta and is being produced by Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment.

Look for Blue Goose Hollow  to debut on HBO during the 2014-15 season.

Photo Source: Celebsgotnews.com

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Recap

Khandi Alexander & Mo’Nique join Queen Latifah’s ‘Bessie’ biopic

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Deadline is reporting that Scandal  actress Khandi Alexander and Oscar winning-actress Mo’Nique have been added to Queen Latifah’s biopic about rhythm and blues queen, Bessie Smith.

Mo’Nique has been tapped to play Ma Rainey, one of music’s first blues singers and affectionately known as The Mother of the Blues.  Alexander will play Bessie’s older sister, Viola, who took care of her after their parents and one brother died.

As previously reported, Bessie  (formally known as Blue Goose Hollow ) is being produced by HBO in partnership with Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and the Zanuck Co.  Bessie  is written and directed by Dee Ress and will chronicle Smith’s rise to fame as a trouble youth to become one of music’s most influential artists of the last century.

RC will keep you posted on additional casting for this film.

Photo Credit: NYPost.com

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Recap

SNEAK PEEK of ‘Scandal’ episode directed by AFFRM’s Ava DuVernay #mamapopelives

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Last July, we reported that AFFRM’s Ava DuVernay had been tapped by Shonda Rhimes to direct an episode of Scandal.  Well, that time has come and the episode “Vermont is for Lovers too” airs Thursday at 10 p.m.

The award winning director posted the above photo of her and Kerry Washington on her Facebook page on Wednesday with the following caption:

I could say what’s going on here… but I’d get thrown in the B613 hole. So, just watch this Thursday! The next episode of SCANDAL is entitled “Vermont is For Lovers Too” and is directed by yours truly. Hope anyone who tunes in enjoys! Xoxo

Here is a sneak peek at the episode below featuring Eli Pope, played by Joe Morton and Mama Pope, played by Khandi Alexander:

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Tell us your thoughts…

Photo Credit: Facebook/AvaDuVernay

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Recap

Guess what actress has been tapped to play Olivia’s mother on Scandal?

Posted by | Ray Cornelius

Now this is something that is sure to get the Gladiators talking.

Khandi Alexander.jpg2S&A is reporting that veteran actress Khandi Alexander will play the coveted role of Olivia Pope’s mother on the ABC smash hit Scandal.  For quite some time, Gladiators have suggested a number of actresses they wanted to see as Liv’s mother including as Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, Lynn Whitfield, Jenifer Lewis and CCH Pounder.

Who knew that Ms. Alexander was even on the show producer’s radar?

At any rate, Alexander will have a recurring role on the show as Maya Lewis, the mother of “Liv” and the deceased wife of Eli Pope, played by Joe Morton.

Alexander is best known for her role on such show as CSI: Miami, Treme  and Newsradio.  She has also appeared in such films as Menace II Society, Sugar Hill  and Poetic Justice.  You may also remember her as an Ikette in What’s Love Got to Do with It.

Alexander will be introduced on this week’s episode which airs at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

What are your thoughts about Khandi Alexander playing Olivia Pope’s mother?

Photo Credits: newsgab.com and abc.go.com