Wednesday, June 27, 2012

August Wilson’s ‘JITNEY’ Takes Center Stage at Pasadena Playhouse With Veteran Cast Members


There is magic happening on the Pasadena Playhouse stage as an impressive cast, that includes showbiz vets, put their spin on August Wilson’s classic play, Jitney.

The show, directed by Ron OJ Parson, stars Charlie Robinson (Night Court), David McKnight (Desire Under the Elms), James A. Watson (National Pastime), Ellis E. Williams (Ovation Award winner Distant Fires), Gregg Daniel (Fences), Montae Russell (Detroit 187/ ER), Rolando Boyce (Topdog/Underdog), Larry Bates (Topdog/Underdog) and Kristy Johnson (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom).

Jitney is the first play Wilson wrote in his “Pittsburgh Cycle,” which chronicles the African-American experience in his childhood neighborhood, decade by decade, over the course of the 20th century.  Wilson’s other plays include: Gem of the Ocean (1900s), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (1910-1920), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (1920s), Seven Guitars (1940s), Fences (1950s), Two Trains Running (1960s), Radio Golf (1990s) and King Hedley II (1980s). Of the 10 plays in the cycle, Jitney is the seventh in the series and is the winner of the New York Drama Critic Circle Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award and the Olivier Award for Best New Play.


The show takes place in 1977 where an unlicensed gypsy cab service, run by Becker (Charles Robinson), is in business in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. It's a place where stories are told, relationships are developed and lives are changed.

I caught up with the cast of Jitney and Sheldon Epps, artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse, to discuss the show.

Q: Mr. Epps, what is the thought process behind bringing a show to the Pasadena Playhouse.

SE: Well, is it artistic? There are economic issues. I think about the appeal of the project. I just want excellent material. How does a play contrast with the other plays we’re doing?

SHELDON EPPS, Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

SE: The biggest challenge is financial. There is never enough money. The economics of running a theater has changed. You have to sell a lot of tickets. Sometimes we’re in a ‘hit’ mentality.

Q:  What are your thoughts about Jitney?

SE: I think Jitney is one of August Wilson’s most hopeful plays. The end is one of his most hopeful and optimistic. At the end a door opens and isn’t closing.

Q: Mr. Parson, what do you like about this show?

ROJP: This is one of my favorites. In all of his plays you find difficult things all the time. In this case we found things. It’s the language and the music, the rhythm.

LARRY BATES - seated (Youngblood), JAMES A. WATSON, JR. 
and ROLANDO BOYCE (Shealy) in 'JITNEY'

Q: Mr. Robinson, how did you go about developing your character, Becker and why did you want to play him?

CR: I get my father’s voice. He was a decent man. That’s why I wanted to play Becker. Her reminded me of my father. He’s a guy who tries to do everything right in life and still things fall apart to a degree.

Q; Your feeling about the play?

CR: I feel fortunate and blessed to play a character like this. People need to know about him.

Q: Mr. Watson, your feelings about the show?

JW: The camaraderie and fellowship and working on an August show has been enlightening.

Q: And, you, Mr. Russell?


MR: I both hear and feel the mission he was on. He’s the greatest playwright of our modern times.

ROJP: He’s always in the room.

Q: Your thoughts, Mr. McKnight? Your character is an alcoholic.


DM:  This is my first August Wilson play. I was doing scenes with Moses on Noah’s Ark.  My father was a jitney taxicab driver in Chicago. He was an alcoholic who died at the age of 36. I draw the voice of that. Those words he’s (Wilson) wrting are precious. He’s possibly a genius.

Q: You are the only woman in the crew. What is it like to be the only woman?


KJ: It’s fun. It’s an incredible group. This is an amazing experience for me. I went to Harvard undergrad. I got a job in mergers and acquisitions. I quickly learned that wasn’t for me. I felt I had no choice but to follow my artistic goals.

Q: Mr. Parson, talk about casting.

ROJP:  I came in from Chicago. I looked at each individual character. I saw 40-50 people in two days. I wanted to see how they fit together. I didn’t go into it with any preconceived idea.

Q: The music was slammin.

ROJP: We listened to thousands of songs. The pre-show music is from the 70s. The music is an important element.

Q: Mr. Williams, what does theater do for you?

EW:  It feeds my soul. With film you stop and go. We can’t cut. TV is a drive through. Theater defines the soul. He (Wilson) left us a body of work we can all identify with. Theater is in the moment. It’s spontaneous.


Q: Mr. Robinson, what does theater do for you that television and film don’t?

CR: Film is the medium for the director – they control it.  You have no control. Television is the writer’s medium. Theater is the actor’s medium. Once I walk on stage, I’m in control of what happens.

KJ:  One of the reasons I got into this business is to get people to feel something.

ROJP:  Theater is life. Film is art and television is furniture.

The rest of the Jitney creative team includes: Shaun Motley (scenic designer), Brian Lilenthal (lighting designer), Vincent Olivieri (sound designer) and Dana Woods (costume designer).

Jitney, Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Avenue, Pasadena; Tues-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 4 & 8 p.m. and Sun. 2 & 7 p.m.; $29-$100, rush tickets: $15; for information: 626.356.7529 or

Tuesday, June 26, 2012





LOS ANGELES, CA (June 26, 2012) – American Pop Anthology (Floyd Mutrux & 
Birgitte Mutrux), in association with Scott Prisand (Broadway’s Rock of Ages), 
announced today that they will present the new musical production BOY FROM NEW 
YORK CITY written and directed by Tony Award-nominee Floyd Mutrux (Broadway’s 
Million Dollar Quartet and Baby It’s You!) and choreographed by Birgitte Mutrux 
(Broadway’s Baby It’s You!).  Performances begin September 20, 2012 for an 
eight-week run at The Coast Playhouse (8325 Santa Monica Boulevard) in West 

BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY will star Vincent Spano (Rumble Fish) as George Goldner, 
Arielle Jacobs (Broadway’s In the Heights) as Reina, Geno Henderson (Broadway’s 
Baby It’s You!) Tommy Edwards/and others and Crystal Starr Knighton (Broadway’s 
Baby It’s You!) as LaVern Baker.  The new musical tells the story of the king 
and queen of New York rock ‘n’ roll from 1955-1965 – George Goldner (Vincent 
Spano), the most characteristic figure in the Golden Era of street corner do-wop 
and his great love affair with a Puerto Rican dancer named Reina (Arielle 
Jacobs), whom he met when she was a hat check girl at the Palladium.   The 
production will feature rock ‘n’ roll favorites like “Why Do Fools Fall in 
Love,” “Tears on My Pillow,” “Barbara Ann,” “Little Darlin,” “Save the Last 
Dance for Me,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “It’s All in the Game of Love” and 

“The most memorable quote that I ever heard about George Goldner came from his 
protégé Artie Ripp, who later produced Billy Joel’s first solo album.  Artie 
said, ‘George had the mind of Einstein and the ears of a teenager,” said Floyd 
Mutrux, writer/director of BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY and co-head of American Pop 
Anthology.  “George’s rock ‘n’ roll bio is exactly what Birgitte and I are 
looking for when creating musicals – people who have made the music that changed 
the culture of our country, these are the stories that American Pop Anthology 
will produce.”

Birgitte Mutrux, choreographer of BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY and co-head of American 
Pop Anthology added, “It feels wonderful to be back with our third show BOY FROM 
NEW YORK CITY.  There’s a very good reason why American Pop is based here in Los 
Angeles, it’s the perfect place to create – Million Dollar Quartet and Baby It’s 
You! also had their start here. To my mind, Los Angeles has a cheerful 
disposition, which allows for great collaboration.”

"Working with Floyd is like being on an amusement park ride – you're spinning on 
a 45 RPM record – you not only get the sounds of the era, you also get the 
history and the personalities of rock ‘n’ roll – and rock ‘n’ roll has never 
left the soul of America,” said BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY producer Scott Prisand.  
“American Pop Anthology is like the master conductor of that era and I'm 
thrilled to combine our worlds."

BOY FROM NEW YORK CITY is presented by American Pop Anthology in association 
with Scott Prisand.  The new musical is written and directed by Floyd Mutrux and 
choreographed by Birgitte Mutrux.  Joining the creative team is Joel Scott (Baby 
It’s You!) as Musical Director.  Bruce Bendell serves as Executive Producer.

Full casting and the design team along with ticket information will be announced 
at a later date.
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New York, NY – June 26, 2012 – BET Networks has just added more exciting talent to its list of presenters and performers for the BET AWARDS 12. Jamie Foxx, Quentin Tarantino, Tyler Perry and Laz Alonso will join previously announced presenters Kevin Hart, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Meagan Good and superstar host, Samuel L. Jackson.  Added to the already stellar line up of musical performers are BET’s SUNDAY BEST judge Yolanda Adams, Season 4 winner Amber Bullock, Season 2 winner Y’Anna Crawley and Season 2 1st runner-up Jessica Reedy. Previously announced top performers include D’Angelo, Usher, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Wale, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz, Big Sean, and G.O.O.D. Music, all performing live at The Shrine Auditorium on Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 8:00 pm*.
For the third year in a row, BET Music Matters artists will have the distinction of gracing the BET AWARDS stage.  BET’s Music Matters will again cast the spotlight on new talent who are on their way to being the next BET superstars.  Jennah Bell and Charles Perry will take the stage during BET AWARDS 12 to give the world a sneak peek of their talents.  Hailing from Oakland, CA, Jennah Bell is a singer, songwriter and musician whose sound consists of alternative, folk and soul. She recently completed the “Making Music Herstory” project and is living in New York City.  Brooklyn native Charles Perry was once described by Luther Vandross as “ferocious” and predicted a long-lasting solo career at the age of 16 years old. With the experience of performing by superstars like the late Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, Charles is now focused on his upcoming solo album.
Leading up to the Awards, BET Networks provided an opportunity for hopeful artists to display their talents on its Next Big Music Star Mobile Tour.  After traveling to 5 cities, where hundreds of aspiring artists auditioned to be the BET Awards Next Big Music Star, the videos have been viewed and the votes tallied. The BET Awards Next Big Music Star is Marquis "DMT The Rapper" Taylor of Atlanta, GA.  DMT The Rapper received a round-trip and exclusive access to BET AWARDS 12 and will appear at the 106 & PARK Pre-Show for his achievement. Writing since he was 12, DMT prides himself in rapping without the use of profanity.  See more of DMT The Rapper and the 3 runners up at 509
Tune in and watch BET AWARDS 12 on Sunday, July 1st live from The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles at 8:00 p.m*!
*All times are ET/PT.
About BET Networks
BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions:, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; CENTRIC, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the 25- to 54-year-old African-American audience; BET Digital Networks - BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop, attractive alternatives for cutting-edge entertainment tastes; BET Home Entertainment, a collection of BET-branded offerings for the home environment including DVDs and video-on-demand; BET Event Productions, a full-scale event management and production company with festivals and live events spanning the globe; BET operates in the United Kingdom and oversees the extension of BET network programming for global distribution.
About BET Awards
The BET AWARDS is one of the most watched award shows on cable television according to the Nielsen Company.  The BET AWARDS franchise remains as the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is BET's #1 telecast every year.  It recognizes the triumphs and successes of artists, entertainers, and athletes in 20 categories.  Samuel L. Jackson will be hosting the BET Awards 12. Chris Brown and Nicki Minaj will be the first performers on the show. The BET AWARDS 12 will premiere Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 8:00PM BST across BET's international platforms in the UK and Africa. The nominees for the BET AWARDS include Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Drake, Trey Songz, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Usher, J.Cole, Big Sean, Wale, Mindless Behavior, Common, Viola Davis, Idris Elba, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Serena Williams, Kobe, Bryant, Venus Williams and many more!
About BET Music Matters
BET's Music Matters initiative highlights the next BET music superstars as emerging new artists showcase their talents through exclusive live performances.
About The BET AWARDS Next Big Music Star Mobile Tour
“The BET AWARDS Next Big Music Star Mobile Tour” was an exciting, five-city tour that gave aspiring artists across the country a chance to have their moment in the spotlight.  Thousands came out to the tour but only a select few were invited into the state-of-the-art recording studio to demonstrate their musical talent and skill. Credible producers and artists were on-hand to coach and evaluate the lucky hopefuls who were selected to record. Video clips of the recording sessions from all five (5) cities were uploaded to the Tour’s Facebook page for fans to vote.
Stephen G. Hill, BET’s President of Music Programming and Specials, Lynne Harris Taylor, BET’s Vice President of Specials, will serve as Executive Producers for the BET AWARDS 12, along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment. Official sponsors of The BET AWARDS 12 include Cadillac®, Coca-Cola®, Ford®, State Farm® and Subway®.
# # #

Monday, June 25, 2012

Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen Star In ‘The Magic of Belle Isle’

Academy Award-winner Morgan Freeman is one of those critically acclaimed actors that every other actor longs to work with. That includes his latest co-star, Virginia Madsen, who appears alongside the veteran thespian in Magnolia Pictures’, The Magic of Belle Isle.

Freeman has appeared in blockbuster films like Million Dollar Baby (for which he won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), The Dark Knight, Unforgiven, The Bucket List, The Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy.
This summer he will appear in the highly anticipated, The Dark Knight Rises.

His latest turn on the screen is a small, family fare comedy-drama, directed by Rob Reiner. It also stars Madeline Carroll, Ash Christian, Kenan Thompson, Emma Fuhrmann, Fred Willard and Nicolette Pierini.

In the film Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a famous Western novelist whose struggle with alcoholism has sapped his passion for writing. He takes a lakeside cabin for the summer in picturesque Belle Isle, and befriends the family next door—an attractive single mom (Madsen) and her young daughters—who help him find inspiration again.

I caught up with the actors to discuss the film, set for a nationwide release July 6, 2012.


DD: Mr. Freeman, Rob Reiner said of you, “Morgan brings tremendous wisdom, strength and soul. What do you think about that?

MF: I think they finally got it right. (he laughs uproariously)

DD: Virginia, what did you think when you found out you’d be starring opposite Morgan Freeman?


VM: I said, ‘what’????  I was overjoyed.

DD: Mr. Freeman, what was your response when you found out your co-star was Virginia Madsen?

MF: I’ve seen a lot of Virginia’s work. She’s steadfast. She’s always right on the money, whatever it is.

DD: What did you think of the script?

MF: I found the whole script poetic. I like that whole thing.

DD: Was there anything challenging?

MF: Yes, Monday through Friday getting out of bed in the morning.  We had reasonable hours, daylight shooting and some night shooting.


VM:  We had very early calls, but it was a joyous family feeling on the set.  The location was like a character itself.  

DD: Mr. Reiner, why this movie and why now?

RR:  When I turned 60, I started recognizing the preciousness of life. You start wanting to enhance it. That’s why I did Bucket List.  When I saw this script I thought here’s a guy whose life is passing away. He can’t write anymore. I thought about that and how through the relationships. It’s something I think about. It’s A Wonderful Life is my favorite movie. It’s about the preciousness of life. Unless we’re all Shirley MacLaine, this may be all we’ve got.

DD: Why did you want Morgan Freeman in the role?


RR: Originally, I thought of George Clooney and Robert Downey. Originally, the Morgan character was 50.  Morgan is my favorite actor. We enjoy each other on the set.

DD: Why did you want Virginia Madsen?

RR: She was perfect for the role.

DD: Are you a better director because you’re also an actor?

RR: Yes. There’s a lot I take as an actor. I know this fear and nervousness. I try to create a place to relax. I wouldn’t ask the actors to do something I couldn’t do. If as a director you’re also an actor, most actors trust you. The best directors are those that have been actors.

DD: This movie could bomb if the chemistry between Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen didn’t work.

RR: I know. I was lucky.

DD: What do you do with your movies when the chemistry doesn’t work.

RR: Luckily, I haven’t had that problem.


DD: I was surprised about something that happened in the movie between Morgan and Virginia.

RR: I think I know what you mean. Because of that, I actually changed the ending of the movie.

DD: Lets talk about the production. How long to shoot? How much did it cost?

RR:  We shot for 25 days. It cost $5 million to make.

The Magic of Belle Isle, directed by Rob Reiner and shot entirely on location in Greenwood Lake, New York, stars Morgan Freeman, Virginia Madsen, Kenan Thompson, Madeline Carroll, Emma Fuhrmann, Nicolette Pierini, Fred Willard and Ash Christian.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Michael Dorn and Tessa Thompson Star in Shakespeare's "As You Like It"

The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles

“As You Like It”
by William Shakespeare

The Japanese Garden on the grounds of the
VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center Campus
18 Performances Only – July 10 to 29 (press opening July 14)

Directed by Kenn Sabberton 
Artistic Director Ben Donenberg
Cast features Tessa Thompson, Peter Cambor, Michael Dorn,
Diane Venora, John Lavelle, and Tony Abatemarco

The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (SCLA), under the artistic direction of Ben Donenberg, returns after 16 years to The Japanese Garden on the grounds of the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center Campus with a summer production of William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy “As You Like It,” directed by Royal Shakespeare Company artist Kenn Sabberton – July 10 to 29.  

The cast is led by Tessa Thompson as Rosalind; she is known for roles on “Veronica Mars,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes” and upcoming BBC America “Copper,” as well as Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” and Cordelia in “King Lear” here in Los Angeles.  Peter Cambor, who played Nate Getz on “NCIS: Los Angeles” plays Orlando; Michael Dorn, well known as the Klingon Lt. Commander Worf from “Star Trek,” plays both Duke Frederick and Duke Senior; Diane Venora, who played Hamlet for the New York Shakespeare Festival, as Jacques; John Lavelle, who played Ben in “The Graduate” on Broadway, as Touchstone; and veteran Los Angeles stage actor Tony Abatemarco as Adam and Corin.  The cast also features McKinley Belcher, Kendra Chell, Brian Joseph, Gabriella Rhodeen, Andrew Schwartz, and Lindsay Rae Taylor. 

Ben Donenberg, Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Center said, “We are returning to the VA grounds to present Shakespeare – this time at the Japanese Garden, one of the loveliest outdoor venues on the West Side.  Here we have a chance to enjoy one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, with a great company of wonderful Los Angeles Shakespearean actors, led by a 10-year veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, complete with live music – an important part of our productions – on a lovely mid-summer evening, with al fresco dining.  Additionally this allows us to continue working with Veterans, who will serve as valued members of our backstage and front of house team.  Two veterans will also be part of the performing company, and we are making complimentary tickets available to active military personnel and veterans.” 

The production features original music by Brian Joseph, who wrote original music for the Shakespeare Center’s 2010 production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” featuring Lyle Lovett and Helen Hunt.  The scenery is by Gary Wissmann, costumes by Holly Poe Durbin, and the lighting by Trevor Norton. 

The Japanese Garden on the grounds of the West Los Angeles VA is at 11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90073 (adjacent to the Brentwood Theatre).  Tickets for “As You Like It” are available online at   For information about the ticket program for active military and veterans, please call SCLA at 213-481-2273.

Director Kenn Sabberton has set the play in present day Los Angeles, where Shakespeare’s court is likened to the corridors of governmental and corporate power and financial influence, and where the events of the day have brought about a sorry and sour state of affairs, stemming from family strife and political maneuverings among the characters.

Since this is Shakespeare, after all, the characters repair to the forest. The Forest of Arden has become the local rural orange groves, adjacent farmland, and campgrounds where the characters gather to sing, dance, fall in love, and discuss what is truly important for their own health and the health of mankind – as many Angelinos who regularly enjoy the natural settings that are easily accessible to all who live here.  “In Shakespeare, as in life, there is a restorative power of nature and in creating music, dance and song, as a healing force,” said Sabberton.  “It is the transformative Shakespearean experience that an audience can enjoy – as audiences have for hundreds of years – under the moon and the stars.”

This production brings the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles back to the VA grounds for the first time since 1992.  The VA location speaks to many long-time themes of the Shakespeare Center – including presenting Shakespeare in a relevant way through settings that speak to present-day Angelenos, working with veterans, and using theatre as a tool for personal and community transformation.  

Kenn Sabberton, who directed the 2009 outdoor production of “As You Like It” on the plaza of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, has been an actor, director and teacher for over thirty years.  He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for ten years, working in London, Stratford-Upon-Avon and New York.  While there, Sabberton was heavily involved with the education department’s school programming, and directed shows for the RSC fringe for which he served as Artistic Director.

Sabberton went on to work in London at the Royal National Theatre, followed by the Aquila Theatre Company in New York and the NYU Center for Ancient Studies, where he was responsible for studying, lecturing and researching Shakespeare. During his time with Aquila Theatre Company and the NYU Center for Ancient Studies, Sabberton worked on many Shakespeare productions and was named an associate artist.

Most recently, he directed shows in London, which have toured around the United States and played off Broadway.  Currently, Sabberton is touring in a production of Bill Naughton’s Alfie, directed by Oliver Award winning director David Thacker.  Sabberton is a registered fight director and a registered foster carer, CRB certified to work with Young People.  He has taught in many drama schools and has run a number of summer acting schools for children with disabilities.

Veterans Summer Employment is supported by VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Capital Group, and the Pentagon Federal Credit Union.  “As You Like It” is made possible in part by The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.

About The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles

Since 1985, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles has been a cherished community resource committed to making Shakespeare accessible, relevant and enriching for students, educators, artists and audiences from all walks of life.

Ben Donenberg, one of the city’s greatest proponents of Shakespeare, started the Shakespeare Center with a free production of “Twelfth Night” in Pershing Square and since then has provided performances of Shakespeare, along with outreach programs such as Will Power to Youth, which provides hands-on artistic experience with paid job training and arts education for at-risk youth.  The program has been so successful that it has been replicated in communities around the country.

Well known for its L.A.-centric approach to Shakespeare, past Shakespeare Center production highlights include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” featuring jazz standards set in the 1920s along Central Avenue, a 1990s “Julius Caesar” on the steps of City Hall, “Twelfth Night” on Venice Beach, “As You Like It” featuring Peter Seeger’s music imagined in Yosemite National Park, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” featuring Beatles music in a suburban 1970s San Fernando Valley, as well as a contemporary “The Taming of Shrew” at a time-share, featuring music by contemporary Los Angeles composers.  Throughout its 26-year history, the Shakespeare Center has presented Shakespeare that reflects the landscape, history and people of Los Angeles, rendering interpretations that are artistically, financially, geographically, and physically accessible to all.

The center recently presented its 25th Anniversary production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre starring Helen Hunt, Tom Irwin, Lyle Lovett, Grace Gummer, Dakin Matthews, Stephen Root, David Ogden Stiers, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins; it also hosted the West Coast Premiere of “The Trial of Hamlet” having previously been presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago.

Now in its 19th year, Will Power to Youth (WPY) is the highly acclaimed youth development program at The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. WPY combines academics, human relations, job training and art to create a unique summer employment opportunity for youth aged 14-19.

WPY has also been nationally recognized by the National Endowment of the Arts, First Lady Laura Bush, and The U.S. Department of Justice for its effectiveness at addressing unemployment, youth violence and high-school dropout rates. In 2008, WPY was selected as one of ten arts programs for inclusion in the groundbreaking report The Qualities of Quality: Excellence in Arts Education and How to Achieve It released by Harvard’s Project Zero . In 2005, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles was selected by Bush as a destination point on her “Helping America’s Youth” tour. The tour highlighted model youth programs that made a significant difference in the lives of young people.  Subsequently, SCLA’s Will Power to Youth program was invited to participate in the White House Conference for Helping America’s Youth, as the Featured Lunchtime Presenter.

About Ben Donenberg

Ben Donenberg has performed as an actor on and off Broadway, in Central Park at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Delacorte Theater, on television and in film.  He annually directs “Simply Shakespeare,” a star-studded staged reading, hosted by Board Member Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, which benefits The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles.

In 2006, the United States Senate unanimously approved his Presidential appointment to a six-year term as a Member of the National Council on the Arts, overseeing the work of the National Endowment for the Arts.  Donenberg is also featured in the National Endowments’ award-winning inspirational documentary “Why Shakespeare?” which was distributed to more than 40,000 high schools throughout the country.

He has served as a National Juror for the Coming Up Taller Awards, under the auspices of The President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities, a volunteer on the National Endowment for the Arts Theater Grant Panel and the Los Angeles County Performing Arts Commission’s Theater Grant Panel. Mr. Donenberg holds a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Southern California and is a graduate of The Juilliard School’s Drama Division.
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Calendar Listing for  “As You Like It”

Dates:         July 10 - 29
Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 8 pm
Gates Open at 6:30 for pre-show picnics   
Previews July 10 - 13
        Press opening Saturday, July 14 at 8 pm
Theatre:        The Japanese Garden on the grounds of the VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center campus
        11301 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles CA 90073 (adjacent to the Brentwood Theatre)
Prices:        Starting at $25; premium seating available
Tickets for active military, veterans, and their guests are free of charge (while supplies last; reservations required).  Please call SCLA at 213-481-2273.

Tickets:; 1-800-838-3006
More Info:   

Hollywood Black Film Festival Calls For Submissions For 2012 Festival

The Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) -- recognized as one of the leading black film festivals -- is currently accepting submissions for the 2012 festival, to be held October 25-28, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Regular submissions will be accepted from June 18 through August 6. The late deadline is August 17.

HBFF welcomes narrative features, shorts, student and documentary films for its competitive program. Animation films and music videos submitted are accepted for the non-competitive program only.  This year HBFF is pleased to announce a new category for Web Series.  Feature-length scripts are also accepted for the separate HBFF Storyteller Competition.
For FAQS about submitting your film or script, please visit:
All films submitted must have been completed after September 1, 2011. 

HBFF accepts film submissions from all filmmakers; however, to be eligible for the festival's competitive program, one of the film's creative principals, i.e. the writer, director or producer must be Black or of African heritage. All other films will be considered for our invitational program. Please notify the festival in your application if your submission does not meet the requirements for the competitive program and you wish to be considered for the invitational program. 

Narrative feature films should be at least 60 minutes in length; short films should be 30 minutes in length or less; and student films must have been completed while the filmmaker was enrolled as a full or part-time student in a college or university.  Web series content creators must submit at least 3 episodes, in ALL genres, less than 20 minutes in length each.  

Film and script entries are accepted exclusively through Withoutabox.  To submit your film and/or script, go to >>
For more information on HBFF visit the website at  Like HBFF on Facebook at  Follow HBFF on Twitter at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Description: CCTA1

LOS ANGELES  – The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), an offshoot of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, today announced the winners of the 2nd annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards.  The star-studded gala awards dinner to acknowledge and honor the best in television was held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel earlier this evening.

Homeland took home the prize for Best Drama Series while Community won in the Best Comedy Series category. Best Reality Series went to Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, while Best Reality Show-Competition went to The Voice. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was honored as Best Talk Show, Archer was honored as Best Animated Series, and Sherlock was honored as Best Movie/Miniseries. NBC was the most awarded network with five wins followed by ABC and AMC, which tied with three wins each.

Actors Bryan Cranston and Louis C.K. won Best Actor in a Drama Series for Breaking Bad and Best Actor in a Comedy Series for Louie, respectively. Claire Danes was honored as Best Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Homeland while Zooey Deschanel and Amy Poehler tied for Best Actress in a Comedy Series for their roles in New Girl and Parks and Recreation, respectively. Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series went to Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks for the second year in a row. Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito was named Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Julie Bowen took home the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy and Ty Burrell won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for their roles in Modern Family. Lucy Liu won Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series for Southland, and Paul Rudd won Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series for his role on Parks and Recreation.

Dancing with the Star’s Tom Bergeron and So You Think You Can Dance’s Cat Deeley tied for Best Reality Host. Benedict Cumberbatch was recognized as Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries for his work in Sherlock, while Julianne Moore was named Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries for her role in Game Change. In addition, The Following, The Mindy Project, Nashville, The Newsroom and Political Animals were honored as Most Exciting New Series.

Acting category nominees in attendance included: Gillian Anderson (Great Expectations), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Alison Brie (Community), Ty Burrell (Modern Family), Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys), Don Cheadle (House of Lies), Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance), Zooey Deschanel (New Girl), Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), Max Greenfield (New Girl), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Cheryl Hines (Suburgatory), Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Gillian Jacobs (Community), Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race), Regina King (Southland), Lucy Liu (Southland/Elementary), Justin Long (New Girl), Joel McHale (Community), Julianne Moore (Game Change), John Noble (Fringe), Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation), Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Carrie Preston (The Good Wife), Danny Pudi (Community), Ashley Rickards (Awkward), Emmy Rossum (Shameless), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy), Eden Sher (The Middle), Maggie Siff (Sons of Anarchy), RuPaul (RuPaul’s Drag U), Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Endings), Chloe Webb (Shameless) and Casey Wilson (Happy Endings).

Presenters included: Beth Behrs (Two Broke Girls), Chris Colfer (Glee), Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time), Emily Deschanel (Bones), Patrick Duffy (Dallas), Donald Faison (The Exes), Sharon Gless (Burn Notice), Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time), Josh Hopkins (Cougar Town), Stana Katic (Castle), Cloris Leachman (Raising Hope), Robert Patrick (True Blood), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story), Busy Philipps (Cougar Town), Hannah Simone (New Girl), Kate Walsh (Private Practice) and Shane West (Nikita).

Stars of the five shows acclaimed as Most Exciting New Series were also in attendance including: Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Hayden Panettiere (Nashville), Thomas Sadoski (The Newsroom) and Natalie Zea (The Following).

The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) also partnered with thalo Magazine to recognize Smash with the thalo’s Critics’ Choice Inspiration Award, which honors a television show for illuminating the fine arts in its subject matter and production methods, along with the individuals who infuse those productions with their artistic passions.

The Critics’ Choice Television Awards honored programs and performances that aired between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012, except for the Most Exciting New Series, which are shows premiering after June 1, 2012. Six new categories debuted this year including Best Movie or Mini-series, Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series, Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series, Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series, Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series and Best Animated Series. The full winners tally is included below.

The 2nd annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards were executive produced by Bob Bain for Bob Bain Productions.

About BTJA
The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) is a partner organization to the Broadcast Film Critics Association. BTJA includes TV, radio and Internet journalists who cover television on a regular basis. For more information, visit:


Best Drama Series
Homeland – Showtime

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad – AMC

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes – Homeland – Showtime

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Giancarlo Esposito – Breaking Bad – AMC

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men – AMC

Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series
Lucy Liu – Southland – TNT

Best Reality Series
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – Travel Channel

Best Reality Series – Competition
The Voice – NBC

Best Reality Show Host - TIE
Tom Bergeron – Dancing with the Stars – ABC
Cat Deeley – So You Think You Can Dance – FOX

Best Talk Show
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – NBC

Best Comedy Series
Community – NBC

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Louis C.K. – Louie – FX

Best Actress in a Comedy Series - TIE
Zooey Deschanel – New Girl – FOX
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation – NBC

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell – Modern Family – ABC

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Julie Bowen – Modern Family – ABC

Best Guest Performer in a Comedy Series
Paul Rudd – Parks and Recreation – NBC

Best Animated Series
Archer – FX

Best Movie/Miniseries
Sherlock – Masterpiece on PBS

Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries
Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock – Masterpiece on PBS

Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries
Julianne Moore – Game Change – HBO

Most Exciting New Series
The Following (Fox/Warner Bros.)
The Mindy Project (Fox/Universal)
Nashville (ABC/Lionsgate)
The Newsroom (HBO)
Political Animals (USA/Warner Bros.)

NBC – 5
ABC – 3
AMC – 3
Fox – 2
FX – 2
PBS - 2
Showtime – 2
HBO - 1
TNT – 1
Travel Channel - 1

Breaking Bad – 2
Homeland – 2
Modern Family – 2
Parks and Recreation – 2
Sherlock – 2
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – 1
Archer – 1
Community – 1
Dancing with the Stars – 1
Game Change - 1
Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – 1
Louie – 1
Mad Men – 1
New Girl - 1
So You Think You Can Dance - 1
Southland – 1
The Voice – 1


Monday, June 18, 2012


Partners With Tribune Broadcasting Stations
To Anchor Fall 2013 Launch

CBS Television Stations and Local TV Bring Strip to 52% of the Country; Sold in All Top 10 Markets

LOS ANGELES – June 18, 2012 – CBS Television Distribution has signed actor/comedian Arsenio Hall to develop a syndicated late-night talk show for Fall 2013, it was announced today by John Nogawski, President of CTD.

With Tribune Broadcasting partnering in the production of the show, the new strip is set to launch on 17 Tribune stations, including in the three largest markets on WPIX, New York, at 11 p.m.; KTLA, Los Angeles, at 11 p.m.; and WGN, Chicago, at 10 p.m.  

The late-night show is sold in all top 10 markets and 17 of the top 20 markets. It is already sold in 52% of the country.

While Tribune is the anchor of the station launch group, also signing on are major market stations from the CBS Television Stations group including Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa and Pittsburgh, plus Local TV LLC stations including key markets Denver, Cleveland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Greensboro and Norfolk. 

Hall, who recently won the latest edition of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” is best known for hosting the Emmy Award-winning “The Arsenio Hall Show,” a late-night syndicated talk show produced by Paramount Domestic Television (now CTD), which ran from 1989 to 1994. The show’s place in pop culture history was cemented in June 1992 when then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton appeared on the show and played “Heartbreak Hotel” on the saxophone. 

“We’re excited to welcome Arsenio back to the family and partnering on his new, late-night syndicated talk show,” Nogawski said. “Arsenio had a substantial following with his previous late-night show, and that same 18-34 audience is now right in the middle of the late-night core audience of 35-54. Years ago, he transcended time periods and attracted a cross-over audience while bringing a fresh perspective to late night. That same need in
the market exists today as when we originally launched. We are looking forward to the same success with Arsenio's seasoned expertise and appeal in this genre.”

Added Nogawski, “We’re excited that Arsenio’s show is the first syndicated show set for Fall 2013. Partnering with such a strong group of stations as Tribune Broadcasting, as well as the sales to CBS and Local TV stations in key markets, will be integral to the show’s success.

“It's an amazing feeling to be going HOME to my old friends and colleagues and firing up our ‘Night Thing,’” commented Arsenio Hall. “Let's get busy ... AGAIN!”

“Tribune’s financial commitment to the production of the show reflects our belief that the growth of the broadcast business lies in investing in top-tier programming and content. Arsenio has a proven track record of success, and we are excited to partner with CBS Television Distribution on the production of Arsenio, with Tribune serving as the cornerstone of the station launch group,” said Nils Larsen, President and CEO, Tribune Broadcasting.

“As Tribune evolves, we will continue to add first-run, original programming. Arsenio will be exclusive to broadcast and is a natural fit for our stations’ Monday-Friday late-night time period,” said Sean Compton, President of Programming and Entertainment, Tribune Broadcasting.

The new show will be produced by CBS Television Distribution, in association with Arsenio Hall Communications Ltd. and Octagon Entertainment Productions. Arsenio Hall will be executive producer. John Ferriter will also be executive producer.

Hall began his career in stand-up comedy, and soon caught the eye of television executives who tapped him for guest appearances on shows such as “Solid Gold” and “The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson,” which led to his hosting Fox’s “The Late Show” in 1997.

In addition to his stand-up and hosting work, Hall established a career as an actor in movies such as “Coming to America” and TV shows such as the CBS dramedy “Martial Law.”

CBS Television Distribution is the preeminent company in television syndication. CTD produces or distributes 13 first-run series and holds the largest distributed television library at 70,000 hours strong. Among CTD’s critically-acclaimed programs are the #1 syndicated series Judge Judy; talk leader Dr. Phil; the #1 and #2 rated game shows  Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!; the Emmy Award-winning talk shows Rachael Ray  and The Doctors; the #1 newsmagazine Entertainment Tonight and its sister show The Insider; the #2 newsmagazine Inside Edition; court shows Judge Joe Brown and Swift Justice With Jackie Glass; reality dating show Excused; the upcoming talk show The Jeff Probst Show; and popular off-network product, including the CSI and Star Trek franchises, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, NCIS, Criminal Minds, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-0, Hot in Cleveland and Undercover Boss. In addition, CTD handles the domestic television distribution of CBS News, CBS Films and Showtime. CTD is a unit of CBS Corp.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bill Cosby To End Reign At Playboy Jazz Festival

Say it ain't so!!
After more than 30 years, legendary comedian and jazz aficionado Bill Cosby will give up the best seat in the house and relinquish his role as Master of Ceremonies for the renowned Playboy Jazz Festival held every year in June at the Hollywood Bowl. Cosby will again emcee the upcoming Festival set for Father’s Day weekend June 16th and 17th, but will pass on the microphone after this year’s show.

Almost as closely associated with the Festival as founder Hugh Hefner, Cosby has been introducing the ‘Who’s Who’ of the jazz world onstage since the first Playboy Jazz Festival in Los Angeles was held at the Hollywood Bowl in 1979 as a 25th Anniversary celebration for Playboy Magazine. Since that initial gathering, Cosby has helped expose nearly three quarters of a million people to well more than 500 hours of jazz.

Commenting on his 30-plus year reign, Cosby stated, “I salute all those who met at the Hollywood Bowl in June every year for two very special weekend days of jazz.”
Indeed, his signature welcome to the audience as the turntable spins the first artists onto the Playboy stage, has become a signal that one of the greatest weekends in jazz is once again underway. During the course of the Festival’s 34-year history, Cosby’s familiar voice could be heard echoing throughout the Bowl, introducing such legendary jazz giants as Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, Grover Washington, Jr., Etta James, Dianne Reeves, as well as such acclaimed artists as Joni Mitchell, Weather Report, Al Jarreau, Tony Bennett, Jamie Cullum, Bobby McFerrin, Kenny G., and countless others.

“Our good friend Bill Cosby has been a stalwart contributor and huge fan of jazz and this festival in particular, over the past 31 plus years.  Not only has he hosted the event with great panache, knowledge and enthusiasm, he has also put together some of the finest groups that have  performed at the Festival. His presence brought a very special excitement to both fans and artists. We have been incredibly fortunate over the years to have had a star of his caliber be so dedicated and willing to give so generously of his time and support year-after-year. He will always be part of the Festival family”, stated Dick Rosenzweig, President Emeritus of the Playboy Jazz Festival.

In 1995 Cosby decided to form his own group, The Cos of Good Music, featuring a handpicked band of stellar musicians. The lineup varied from year-to-year, often presenting up-and-coming young artists along with featuring several other well-known musicians who became regulars.  Cosby often conducted the group onstage, sometimes sitting in on the drums, enjoying himself and entertaining fans in the process. Fans looked forward to the group’s annual appearance and The Cos of Good Music became a highly anticipated staple of the show over the past 16 years.

“Bill Cosby has been a dear friend since the 1960s and it’s been a real pleasure for me, personally, to have him play such an integral part in what makes this festival so special,” said Hugh Hefner. “His great comedic talent and his passion for jazz, exemplified by his own band, the ‘Cos of Good Music,’ have made his contributions to the continued success of this event  immeasurable.”

“Playboy Jazz fans will surely miss his familiar and charismatic presence in his customary seat on stage right, enjoying the music, often sitting in with a cowbell or shaker or just waving a white hankie to start a New Orleans second line or a long, winding conga line” added Darlene Chan, the Festival’s longtime producer.
Over 35,000 jazz fans from all over typically pack the Hollywood Bowl for the special two-day affair which annually kicks off the summer jazz season in Los Angeles. For tickets and further information go to



June 14, 2012 - Burbank, CA - "Learn Me Right" - an original song featuring British-born singer and songwriter Birdy, will be featured on the upcoming soundtrack to the animated Disney*Pixar film Brave, which will be released by Walt Disney Records on June 19th. The track was written, arranged, and produced by Grammy-nominated British folk-rock group Mumford & Sons.

"We liked the idea of having a girl like Birdy sing," says the group's leader Marcus Mumford. It's been quite liberating." Adds Birdy: "I love it because it tells a story. Although it has a lot of emotion, it's also very upbeat and you want to dance to it, which is why it works so well." The song can be heard during the epilogue to the film, which hits theaters on June 22nd.

In addition to "Learn Me Right," Birdy's original song "Just A Game" is featured on The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond, produced by T Bone Burnett. "Just A Game" will be included on the Blu-Ray edition of The Hunger Games, which will be released on August 18th.

Also in August, Birdy will return to the U.S. for three special shows, including an appearance at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco on August 12th. She will also perform at the Roxy in Los Angeles on August 13th and at Joe's Pub in New York City on August 15th.

In March, Birdy released her self-titled debut album, a soulful, sophisticated collection that includes a cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," which peaked at No. 17 on the UK singles Chart after BBC's Radio 1 added it to its playlist. Birdy shot to No. 13 in the U.K. upon its release in November 2011 and achieved gold certification there, while climbing to No. 1 in both Holland and Belgium. Her videos, including those for second UK single "Shelter" and KCRW fave "1901," have racked up a collective 66 million views on YouTube, while the official "Skinny Love" video has earned more than 25 million views alone.

Watch the video for "Skinny Love" here: 

For more, please visit:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

June is Black Music Month and what better time to celebrate its rich history.

For centuries, Black musicians, singers, writers and producers have made incredible contributions to the music industry.

This is the month set aside to pay homage to all those individuals who, through their music, have made us smile, laugh, cry, dance, tap our feet, clap our hands and swivel our hips.

I caught up with some celebrities and asked them, “Who is your favorite female R&B singer of all time?”


GABRIELLE UNION (Think Like A Man) - Patti Labelle, Whitney, Diana Ross

RUSSELL HORNSBY (Grimm) – Anita Baker


CHAD COLEMAN – Aretha Franklin.  It’s her instrument. It’s a huge instrument and an incredible voice.

HAROLD PERRINEAU (Seeking Justice/Lost) - Whitney Houston

CESILI WILLIAMS (The Color Purple) - Without question, Rachelle Farrell

LATOYA LONDON (American Idol/The Color Purple) – Whitney Houston. She was my Idol.

FLAME (gospel singer) – Mary J Blige, Whitney Houston


MARIO VAN PEEBLES (We The Party) – Etta James

MANDELA VAN PEEBLES (We The Party) – Aaliyah, Cassie and Alicia Keys

JERRY FERRARA (Entourage) - Whitney, Mary J there is something comforting about Mary.


PATRICE FISHER - Whitney Houston because she came out of  nowhere with the voice of an angel.  

Darlene Donloe is a seasoned entertainment and travel journalist whose work has appeared in People, Ebony, Essence, Black Meetings & Tourism, LA Watts Times, Los Angeles Sentinel, EMMY, The Hollywood Reporter, Rhythm & Business, Billboard, Grammy, CYH, and more.

CORI Hosts Health Seminar On CANCER & THE FAMILY

Target: African Americans and Latinos

Los Angeles – Statistics show a healthy family is a happy family.

Ways to obtain and maintain good health and well-being within the family is the subject of, A Family Health Day: Focus Cancer, a workshop hosted by the California Oncology Research Institute (CORI) in partnership with The Global Wellness Project (GWP), set to take place at 9 a.m.-12 noon, Sat., June 23, in Fellowship Hall at First Church of God Center of Hope, 9550 Crenshaw Blvd. in Los Angeles.

The workshop is the fourth in a series of CORI programs designed and developed by Dr. Ronald Hurst, co-founder and director of clinical research of CORI, to address the various cancers that disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos (including colon, breast, prostate and general oncology). It will include on-site mammogram screenings at no cost to participants. It is free and open to the public.

“June is Men's Health Month and we've asked women to bring a man they love to the workshop,” said Angela de Joseph, GWP executive director. “The workshop will not only address cancers that disproportionately affect the African American community, we will also have a special presentation for Black men on prostate and colon cancer. One out of every five African Americans is uninsured which is one of the primary factors leading to late cancer diagnosis.”

Workshop speakers include Dr. Hurst and CORI co-founder Dr. Anton Bilchik, who will both lead the panel discussion; as well as Dr. Jenny Ru and Dr. Dana Scott.

Dr. Scott, a urologist who has been doing community outreach for years, applauds the work of Dr. Hurst and Dr. Bilchik, who have developed several health-based community workshops.

“These kinds of workshops are needed for our community,” said Scott, who graduated from Drew UCLA Medical School in 2005.  “I chose urology because cancer was disproportionately affecting my community.”

Scott agrees that once a person is diagnosed, the support system that is in place is also affected.

“It’s interesting,” said Scott. “A cancer diagnosis affects everyone in the family not just the person being diagnosed. If it’s a man, it affects the woman taking care of him, his children, his friends and his extended family.”

Scott said there are three things a family should know about cancer prevention.

“Diet, exercise and regular screenings are the three things everyone needs to think about on a regular basis,” said Scott. “Black men should monitor their diets, watch their cholesterol and exercise. They should be getting their annual physicals and following up. They should also talk to their families  about whatever illnesses they have so the younger generation can know what to look out for.”

In terms of diet, Scott advises everyone to pay attention to the areas they shop in at the super markets.

“My suggestion is to shop the perimeter of the store,” said Scott.  “If you remember that and practice that, you’ll be sure to get the nutrients you need from fruit, vegetables, meats, dairy and eggs. Stay away from the middle of the store where there is  processed food.”

Scott, whose practice focuses on prostate cancer, said getting the right information out to the community is critical.  

She disagrees with a recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) study that dismisses the need for men to have prostate exams once they turn 40.

The study intimates that screenings for prostate cancer has more risks than benefits.

“I think it’s important for Black men to have a prostate exam at 40 despite what the U.S. Task Force recently put out,” said Scott. “We don’t know enough to say we should stop checking at age 40. Unfortunately, when it comes to Blacks and cancer – we are considered to be a high risk factor. Just being Black you’re at risk. So, how can we go from being at risk to not needing to be screened at all?”

Dr. Hurst wants to point out that knowledge is power.

“We need to get ahead of cancer,” said Dr. Hurst. “We need to openly talk about ways to live with a diagnosis of cancer.  My goal is to reach out to the community the best way I can, which is why I helped to develop this program.”

Dr. Hurst, F.A.C.S., who is also partnered with the United States Military Cancer Institute, emphasized that getting the word out about cancer and how if affects African Americans and Latinos is crucial.

“The African American community should know not to be afraid,” said Hurst. “Everyone should know not to be afraid. Fear becomes our greatest obstacle. Men don’t talk about it or get checked because we think we’re invincible. As doctors, in our best state we provide reactionary medicine. We need to get ahead of cancer. We’ve got to get to the people before they get cancer.”

Dr. Bilchik agrees.

 “One of the reasons I started CORI is because I realized that we were presenting our cancer research around the world hoping to improve standards for cancer care, however this information was not getting to the people that needed it the most - underserved people particularly in the inner city,” said Bilchik, co-founder and medical director for CORI.”

Dr. Bilchik, who has been honored by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Surgeons, added that there are disparities with nearly every cancer.

“The outcomes in African Americans is worse for breast cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic and stomach cancer to name but a few,” said Bilchik, who was recently listed as one of “Americas Top Surgeons” for 10 years in a row. “This is likely due to socioeconomic differences and lack of access to health care.”

Statistics show that minorities experience higher rates of illness and death from not only various cancers, but also health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, hepatitis B and obesity.

“Educating people about prevention is so important,” said Dr. Jenny Ru, an internist, hematologist and oncologist. “Prevention is the most important thing you can do. We have to make the public aware of that. When it’s detected early, it is treatable. You can survive. It’s about saving lives. Healthy lifestyles need to be emphasized.”

Dr. Bilchik, a Professor of Oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said CORI is committed to ending the health disparities in the minority population.

“Some of the ways we’re going to  accomplish this is by engaging the community and teaching prevention and early detection,” said Bilchik, Ph.D., F.A.C.S. Chief of Medicine at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center. “It’s also about providing psychosocial support to patients and families dealing with cancer and providing educational material that can be easy to understand.”

“We agree that a healthy family is a happy family,” said de Joseph. “That is why the Global Wellness Project (GWP) is pleased to partner with CORI to bring life saving cancer education to our community. “We are committed to bringing the highest quality of health education and free screenings into the African American and Latino communities.”

GWP has partnered with CORI to produce a series of dynamic cancer awareness workshops to faith-based organizations throughout the Southern California region.

CORI, a non-profit, is committed to curing cancer through innovative research, early detection, novel treatments, and education through community outreach efforts.

For information contact CORI at or 310.883.0096.