Friday, December 9, 2016

This 'Office Christmas Party' Is Out Of Control

By Darlene Donloe

Employees at a tech company called Zenotek know how to party!  Apparently it’s the season to not be only jolly, but to be drunk, raunchy, silly, raucous, loving, sexy and downright out of control.

In Office Christmas Party, out in theaters nationwide today, employees pull out all the stops in an effort to save their company.

The sister/brother owned business is doing Ok, but that’s not good enough for Carol, the ball-breaking female half, played hilariously by Jenifer Aniston.   Carol is the CEO of the company her now deceased father left her and her brother Clay, played brilliantly by T.J. Miller.  Carol is a by-the-book, no-nonsense, anal type of boss - while Clay is a fun loving, albeit dim-witted man with a good heart.

In an effort to tighten the company’s belt, Carol, who has threatened to shut down her brother’s division of the company, cancels the company Christmas party and cuts the staff’s bonuses, much to the chagrin of the employees.

Jason Bateman plays a recently divorced chief technical officer, who, along with his assistant Tracey (Olivia Munn), tries to save the company by bringing in a wealthy partner played by Emmy Award-winner Courtney B. Vance, who effectively shows his silly side.  Vance, who recently won an Emmy playing Johnnie Cochran, holds his own with his naturally comedic counterparts.

Rob Corddry plays a customer service representative, who always has something to bitch about. Karan Soni plays an employee who brags about having a model for a girlfriend.  None of his colleagues are buying it.

Vanessa Bayer is attracted to Fred, played by Randall Park, but he has some mommy issues she just can’t overlook.

Kate McKinnon plays Mary, a staunch Human Resources exec who tries to keep everyone in line.

Fortune Feimster nearly steals the movie playing a hilarious Uber driver who has Aniston’s character as a passenger.  Her “bit” on the name Carol is flat out side-splitting.

The actual Christmas party is lewd, crude, big, loud and wild. Anything you can think of and lots of things you can’t – is happening at this seasonal celebration.   I think this cast has clearly forgotten the reason for the season.

This movie is filled with funny people, which is probably why it’s so amusing. While there are some lulls in the film that include predictability and some real violence, overall there are several laugh out loud moments.  Thankfully the film doesn’t take itself seriously.

Director Josh Gordon has assembled a cast worthy of the comedic material. There is no weak link in the comedy chain.

One can only hope for an Office Christmas Party like this.

Office Christmas Party (Paramount/DreamWorks-Reliance), directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck, stars T.J. Miller, Jenifer Aniston, Courtney B. Vance, Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Sam Richardson, Jamie Chung, Jillian Bell and Rob Corddry.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (0h, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Office Christmas Party gets an O (oh, yeah).

Office Christmas Party is RATED R: for crude sexual content and language throughout, drug use and graphic nudity.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goodwin's 'Wrap This!' Nabs A Grammy Nod

The big band leader will celebrate the season and his 21st Grammy nomination by performing with his Big Phat Band at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood on Monday, December 12.

Gordon Goodwin, the most decorated big band leader in the 21st century, asked “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and on Tuesday, NARAS voters answered affirmatively by bestowing another Grammy nomination upon the four-time Grammy winner. The 21st Grammy nomination of his distinguished career, Goodwin, who also has three Emmy wins, received the nod in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category for his crafty work on the time-honored Christmas classic “Do You Hear What I Hear?” that features guest vocals from ten-time Grammy winners Take 6. The track appears on Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s “A Big Phat Christmas - Wrap This!” album, which was released on the Music of Content label.

To celebrate the holiday season, Goodwin will lead his 18-piece Big Phat Band into Hollywood for a festive-themed concert showcasing music from “A Big Phat Christmas – Wrap This!” at Catalina Bar & Grill on Monday, Dec. 12 at 8:30 p.m. On December 22, Goodwin will join trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval for a special appearance at Walt Disney Concert Hall where they will perform some of Goodwin’s arrangements from “A Big Phat Christmas: Wrap This!”    

It’s been a prolific year for Goodwin, a busy film and television composer and orchestrater who released the Christmas album as well as “An Elusive Man,” the debut disc by his Little Phat Band, a slimmed-down 8-piece jazz ensemble. In addition to producing “An Elusive Man,” Goodwin penned eight original compositions and re-envisioned a pair of standards that spotlight his animated piano and chatty tenor sax trading boisterous barbs and banter with seven members of the Big Phat Band. The musicians relished the liberating freedom to improvise and explore other dimensions of jazz that are not possible to invoke in tightly-scripted big band settings. The versatile, critically-hailed collection swings through tracks of jazz, funk, be-bop, soul and Latin rhythms. 
Goodwin’s 2017 is already taking shape with the premiere of a new Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, which he composed for trumpet virtuoso James Morrison. The concerto will debut in Australia on April 30 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. A second orchestra piece, Fantasia for Soprano Sax and Orchestra, will premiere May 7 in Los Angeles. The soloist will be his Big and Little Phat Band colleague saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who will be accompanied by the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. A second performance is slated to take place in July in Prague with the Czech National Symphony.     

Goodwin, who is profiled in the winter issue of Jazziz magazine arriving on newsstands nationally this month, hosts “Phat Tracks with Gordon Goodwin,” which airs Saturdays from 12-2 p.m. PT on KJAZZ, America’s jazz and blues station. The Los Angeles-based artist will find out on February 12, 2017, if he’ll be adding a fifth Grammy statue to his trophy case. For more information, please visit

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron Star In 'Baywatch'

BAYWATCH, in theaters May 26, 2017, stars
Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron

“BAYWATCH” follows devoted lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (Johnson) as he butts heads with a brash new recruit (Efron). Together, they uncover a local criminal plot that threatens the future of the Bay.


'Fences' Cast At Morehouse For Special Screening

The cast recently spoke at a special screening of Fences for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

(l-r) Mykelti Williamson, Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson and Denzel Washington

FENCES opens in theaters on December 25, 2016.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2017 Grammy Award Nominations Announced

The 2017 Grammy Award nominations were recently released. The show, to air on CBS, is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 12, 2016. The show, hosted by James Corden, will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. 
Beyoncé received nine nods, while Drake, Kanye West and Rihanna each nabbed eight nominations. 
Below is a complete list of nominations.
Record of the Year
“Hello” — Adele
“Formation” — Beyoncé
“7 Years” — Lukas Graham
“Work” — Rihanna, featuring Drake
“Stressed Out” — Twenty One Pilots
Album of the Year
“25” — Adele
“Lemonade” — Beyoncé
“Purpose” — Justin Bieber
“Views” — Drake
“A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” — Sturgill Simpson
Song of the Year
“Formation” — Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles & Michael L. Williams II, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Hello” — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
“I Took A Pill In Ibiza” — Mike Posner, songwriter (Mike Posner)
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)
“7 Years” — Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard & Morten Ristorp, songwriters (Lukas Graham)
Best New Artist
Kelsea Ballerini
The Chainsmokers
Chance The Rapper
Maren Morris
Anderson .Paak
Best Pop Solo Performance
“Hello” — Adele
“Hold Up” — Beyoncé
“Love Yourself” — Justin Bieber
“Piece By Piece (Idol Version)” — Kelly Clarkson
“Dangerous Woman” — Ariana Grande
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
“Cinema” — Andrea Bocelli
“Fallen Angels” — Bob Dylan
“Stages Live”— Josh Groban
“Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” — Willie Nelson
“Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” — Barbra Streisand
Best Rock Song
“Blackstar” — David Bowie, songwriter (David Bowie)
“Burn The Witch” — Radiohead, songwriters (Radiohead)
“Hardwired” — James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich, songwriters (Metallica)
“Heathens” — Tyler Joseph, songwriter (Twenty One Pilots)
“My Name Is Human” — Rich Meyer, Ryan Meyer & Johnny Stevens, songwriters (Highly Suspect)
Best Rock Album
“California” — Blink-182
“Tell Me I’m Pretty” — Cage the Elephant
“Magma” — Gojira
“Death of a Bachelor” — Panic! at the Disco
“Weezer” — Weezer
Best Alternative Music Album
“22, A Million” — Bon Iver
“Blackstar” — David Bowie
“The Hope Six Demolition Project” — PJ Harvey
“Post Pop Depression” — Iggy Pop
“A Moon Shaped Pool” — Radiohead
Best Urban Contemporary Album
“Lemonade” — Beyoncé
“Ology” — Gallant
“We Are King” — KING
“Malibu” — Anderson .Paak
“Anti” — Rihanna
Best R&B Album
“In My Mind” — BJ The Chicago Kid
“Lalah Hathaway Live” — Lalah Hathaway
“Velvet Portraits” — Terrace Martin
“Healing Season” — Mint Condition
“Smoove Jones” — Mya
Best Rap Performance
“No Problem” — Chance The Rapper Featuring Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz
“Panda” — Desiigner
“Pop Style” — Drake featuring The Throne
“All The Way Up” — Fat Joe & Remy Ma featuring French Montana & Infared
“That Part” — Schoolboy Q Featuring Kanye West
Best Rap/Sung Performance
“Freedom” — Beyoncé Featuring Kendrick Lamar”
“Hotline Bling” — Drake
“Broccoli” — D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty
“Ultralight Beam” — Kanye West Featuring Chance The Rapper, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin & The-Dream
“Famous” — Kanye West Featuring Rihanna
Best Rap Album
“Coloring Book” — Chance The Rapper
“And the Anonymous Nobody” — De La Soul
“Major Key” — DJ Khaled
“Views” — Drake
“Blank Face LP” — Schoolboy Q
“The Life of Pablo” — Kanye West
Best Country Solo Performance
“Love Can Go To Hell” — Brandy Clark
“Vice” — Miranda Lambert
“My Church” — Maren Morris
“Church Bells” — Carrie Underwood
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” — Keith Urban
Best Country Album
“Big Day in a Small Town” — Brandy Clark
“Full Circle” — Loretta Lynn
“Hero” — Maren Morris
“A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” — Sturgill Simpson
“Ripcord” — Keith Urban
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
“Book of Intuition” — Kenny Barron Trio
“Dr. Um” — Peter Erskine
“Sunday Night at the Vanguard” — The Fred Hersch Trio
“Nearness” — Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau
“Country for Old Men” — John Scofield
Best American Roots Performance
“Ain’t No Man” — The Avett Brothers
“Mother’s Children Have a Hard Time” — Blind Boys Of Alabama
“Factory Girl” — Rhiannon Giddens
“House of Mercy” — Sarah Jarosz
“Wreck You” — Lori McKenna
Best World Music Album
“Destiny” — Celtic Woman
“Walking in the Footsteps of Our Fathers” — Ladysmith Black Mambazo
“Sing Me Home” — Yo-Yo Ma & The Silk Road Ensemble
“Land of Gold” — Anoushka Shankar
“Dois Amigos, Um Século De Música: Multishow Live” — Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil
Best Spoken Word Album 
“The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo” — Amy Schumer
“In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox” — Carol Burnett
“M Train” — Patti Smith
“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” (John Doe With Tom Desavia) — (Various Artists)
“Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink” — Elvis Costello
Best Comedy Album
“... America … Great …” — David Cross
“American Myth” — Margaret Cho
“Boyish Girl Interrupted” — Tig Notaro
“Live at the Apollo” — Amy Schumer
“Talking for Clapping” — Patton Oswalt
Best Song Written for Visual Media
“Can’t Stop The Feeling!” — Max Martin, Shellback & Justin Timberlake, songwriters (Justin Timberlake, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Zooey Deschanel, Walt Dohrn, Ron Funches, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse & Kunal Nayyar), Track from: “Trolls”
“Heathens” — Tyler Joseph, songwriter (Twenty One Pilots), Track from: “Suicide Squad”
“Just Like Fire” — Oscar Holter, Max Martin, P!nk & Shellback, songwriters (P!nk), Track from: “Alice Through the Looking Glass”
“Purple Lamborghini” — Shamann Cooke, Sonny Moore & William Roberts, songwriters (Skrillex & Rick Ross), Track from: “Suicide Squad”
“Try Everything” — Mikkel S. Eriksen, Sia Furler & Tor Erik Hermansen, songwriters (Shakira), Track from: “Zootopia”
“The Veil” — Peter Gabriel, songwriter (Peter Gabriel), Track from: “Snowden”
Best Musical Theater Album
“Bright Star”
“The Color Purple”
“Fiddler on the Roof”
“Kinky Boots”
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical
Benny Blanco
Greg Kurstin
Max Martin
Ricky Reed
Best Music Video
“Formation” — Beyoncé
“River” — Leon Bridges
“Up & Up” — Coldplay
“Gosh” — Jamie XX
“Upside Down & Inside Out” — OK Go

No Business Like Show Business In LA LA Land

By Darlene Donloe

Director and Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle’s latest film, LA LA Land, is a throwback to Hollywood’s Golden Age, a bygone era when the musical was king.

Chock full of witty little ditties sung by stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, LA LA Land’s flavor is taken straight from the classics.

It’s a bit campy, but if you’re a fan of that genre, it’s a satisfying journey through LA LA Land.

There aren’t a lot of musicals rocking the screen these days, although using music and dance as an integral part of a movie’s narrative used to be the way to an audience’s heart. Back in the 40s when the movie musicals popularity peaked – they were grand spectacles complete with elaborate sets, vibrant costumes, great cinematography, solid dance numbers and, of course, great music. 

Chazelle takes a page from that era and makes it all his own. In some ways it’s a scary proposition considering that the traditional movie musical has been banished into obscurity. Young people aren’t exactly familiar with that genre and

The story is simple, but it’s not simple. It’s a story as old as time. It’s literally about two people trying to make it in show business. Well, duh!  But, there’s more, much more. Before we delve into that, here’s the story.

There is Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress who, in between auditions, is a barista on a studio lot.  But she has dreams of stardom, which includes starring in her own one-woman theatrical production. Then there is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a staunch jazz pianist who works various gigs around town to make ends meet.  He doesn’t want to play anything but jazz – even when his job requires him to play something else. Both Mia and Sebastian find out early on in their careers that life isn’t fair and breaking into show business is even more unfair.

Eventually Mia and Sebastian meet. In fact, they literally bump into each other. It’s not exactly fireworks in the beginning, but, of course, the two warm up to each other.   Each supports the other’s dream until a rift shakes up the relationship and an opportunity arises that challenges their love.

In the meantime, there is plenty of music and dance numbers ala Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to move the story along.

La La Land looks at the realities of making the hard decision of whether to pursue one’s career dreams or pursuing one’s personal relationship. What to do? Both are important. Which one will Mia and Sebastian choose?

Chazelle, who is paying homage to the movie musical, has fashioned a sweet, nostalgic film with eye-popping visuals that is all at once a love story, a fantasy and a look at determination in its rawest form.

And, in the end, Chazelle reinforces, once again, that there’s no business like show business.

LA LA Land (Lionsgate), written and directed by Damien Chazelle, stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, J.K. Simons, Rosemarie DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe, Tom Everett Scott and Josh Pence.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), LA LA Land gets an O (oh, yeah).

LA LA Land is Rated PG-13 for some language; Running Time: 128 minutes.