Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dwayne Johnson Stars In 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'



By Darlene Donloe

G.I. Joe Retaliation, the sequel to 2009’s The G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, doesn’t disappoint when it comes to lots of action, loud guns and plenty of bang, bang, shoot ‘em up.

This time, Jon M. Chu’s 3D action-packed feature, based on Hasbro’s G.I. Joe franchise, takes the elite squad, helmed by Channing Tatum (Duke) and Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock) to Pakistan, where, unfortunately, nearly a full squadron is annihilated in a brazen attack. Three members of the squad survive and must save the country, the White House and the government. 

It’s classic ‘good versus evil’ with the Joes at the helm.

To its credit the movie, originally scheduled for a 2012 release date, accurately reflects the franchise’s cartoon origins. However, the movie safely walks the line. In order to make an effective  impact, the film either needs to go all in with the cartoonish style or leave it alone altogether.  Anyone who grew up with the popular G.I. Joes will delight in the somewhat campy fun that surrounds the film.

This time around North Korea plays a nemesis in the film. No surprise there.

Part of the storyline includes COBRA, the bad guy organization, inserting an impostor POTUS (played by Jonathan Pryce) into the White House, who then calls for global disarmament. Unfortunately, this part of the storyline doesn’t really help move the film forward. In fact, it’s a bit campy even for this campy film.  

After the impersonating POTUS sends the G.I. Joes into Pakistan to remove some nukes, he actually attacks their base.  What he doesn’t know is that some of the elite fighters survived the attack and now live to fight another day. The four survivors include: Roadblock, Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki).

The Lady Jaye character is a welcomed surprise. She can kick butt with the best of them.

The fake POTUS isn’t the only bad guy. There is also Snake Eyes and Firefly.

There is an entertaining sequence involving Snake Eyes and some flying ninjas (ala Spider-Man) that goes on for too long, but does add value to the cinematography.  

Adding a bit of levity to the proceedings is action star Bruce Willis, who plays retired Joe founder Gen. Joe Colton.  Willis as an addition to any film - kicks it up a bit.

If you don’t want to think and just want to be entertained, this is a popcorn movie.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation, directed by Jon M. Chu, stars Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Catrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, RZA, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Elodie Yung, Bruce Willis, Walton Goggins.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t know), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), G.I. Joe: Retaliation, now in theaters nationwide, gets an O (OK).

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Drama 'Better Mus' Come' Is A Must See

Better Mus’ Come is a stylish drama about Ricky, a single father who is released from prison after months of speculation that he is a suspected political agitator.  The movie, set against a 1970s Jamaican backdrop, is also a

Ricky is a single father who is released from prison after months of speculation that he is a suspected political agitator. A gang leader who is now questioning the principles he used to believe in, Ricky is still haunted by the death of his wife who was a victim of gang warfare. He is the focus of the coming of age drama, Better Mus’ Come, which is set against a 1970s Jamaican backdrop.   

Sheldon Shepherd is “Ricky” and Nicole Sky Grey is "Kemala"
in Better Mus' Come

Enter, Kemala (Nicole Grey), a smart young lady who lives in a rival neighborhood. Unfortunately after they Kemala and Ricky meet another level of violence springs from their friendship. 

There are some rather harsh and brutal scenes in the movie, which only highlight the true realities of the times. The film documents the way petty rivalries spiral out of control to plunge a neighborhood into murderous gang wars.

A one-man band, first time feature filmmaker Storm Saulter also wrote, edited and directed the film, as well as handled the cinematography. He has amassed an impressive cast and a stunningly provocative and engaging movie.

Saulter, who is a bit of a political junkie, hits close to home with the film by documenting the Green Bay Massacre and the undeclared civil war that took place from the 1970’s into the early 80’s between street gangs who were recruited and armed by the political parties to fight for control of their communities.

Better Mus’ Come also stars Roger Guenveur Smith, Ricardo Orgill and Everaldo Creary.  

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don't bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable) O (OK) E (excellent), Better Mus' Come gets an O (OK)

Better Mus’ Come is now playing at Downtown Independent. For locations & showtimes visit

Friday, March 29, 2013

'The Place Beyond The Pines' Sizzles OnScreen

 By Darlene Donloe

The Place Beyond The Pines is one of the best movies of 2013. It’s a powerfully crafted drama that has a multi-layered storyline.  Chock full of detours and unlikely scenarios, it keeps the audience on its toes with an intensity that doesn’t let up.

First we get introduced to Luke (Academy Award nominee Ryan Gosling), a popular and legendary motorcycle rider, who upon learning he has a son, decides to rob banks in order to support the child and its mother, Romina (Eva Mendes).  He quickly becomes quite proficient at robbing.  But, he eventually gets greedy one too many times.


Enter policeman Avery, played by Golden Globe and Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper. Set on rising in the ranks, Avery is dogged when it comes to taking down Luke. Eventually the two men butt heads.  The consequences of Avery’s confrontation with Luke will reverberate into the next generation.


Fast-forward 15 years – and the male offspring of both Luke and Avery become the focal point of the film.  The boys Jason (Dane DeHaan) and AJ (Emory Cohen) become friends. Both have an edge. Both like drugs. Both are delinquents.
It now becomes a movie about fathers and sons and sons and sons.

With a fair amount of character development and character arc, Cianfrance’s film weaves together a satisfying fare that at times keeps the audience on the edge of its seat.


Admittedly, it takes a minute for the story to get started. The first third of the movie is a bit long, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining.

Director Derek Cianfrance’s epic drama gives its characters room to breathe.  There are several fine performances, especially that of Gosling and Mendes. Ray Liotta is he usually creepy self, while Bradley Cooper shows another side to his acting skills.


In describing his movie, Cianfrance said, “It’s about legacy – what we’re born with and what we pass on. It’s about the choices we make and how those choices echo throughout generations. It’s a classic tale of the sins of the father being visited upon the son.”

The Place Beyond The Pines is a winner!


The Place Beyond The Pines, directed by Derek Cianfrance, written by Cianfrance, Ben Coccio and Darius Marder, stars Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ray Liotta, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood and Ben Mendelsohn.


Running time: 2 hr., 20 min.  MPAA Rating: R (for language throughout, some violence, teen drug and alcohol use, and a sexual reference)

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), The Place Beyond The Pines gets an E (excellent).

Robbie Jones Heats Up The Screen In 'Temptation'


 By Darlene Donloe

Robbie Jones is sitting in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, looking like a clean cut boy next door.  It’s a stark contrast from his role in Tyler Perry’s latest film, Temptation, out nationwide today. In the film he plays Harley, a slick, successful internet executive who is used to getting whatever and whoever he wants. It’s a juicy role that Jones has sunk his teeth into with full abandon. 

Described as a romantic drama about forbidden desires, Temptation tells the story of a married, small town girl named Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), who gets caught up in an unhealthy relationship with a handsome billionaire (Jones) and begins to turn her back on her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Brice (Lance Gross).

Temptation (Lionsgate), written, produced and directed by Tyler Perry, also stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross, Vanessa Williams, Renee Taylor, Ella Joyce, Brandy Norwood and Kim Kardashian.

The handsome actor from Sacramento, Calif., who in recent years co-starred on both One Tree Hill and the short-lived Hellcats, also landed a recurring role on 90210. His credits also include Necessary Roughness (USA Network), Hawaii Five-O, Southland, Dark Blue, Hellcats and Rewind.  He has also played opposite Angela Bassett on ER and Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker in Hurricane Season. It was actually Hurricane Season that landed him the role in Temptation.  That’s where Tyler Perry first spotted Jones and thought he’d be perfect for the role of Harley. 


When he’s not acting, Jones plays in The Entertainment League (E League) alongside Ice Cube, Don Cheadle, Justin Timberlake and Jamie Foxx. He’s also a popular celebrity DJ called ‘DJ RJ.”

I caught up with Jones recently to talk about his latest role and his red-hot career.  As I enter the suite, he stands and extends a hand. I take the opportunity to, instead, initiate a hug.

DD: Tell me about the phone call you got from Tyler telling you he wanted you to read his script.

RJ: It was kind of interesting. My manager called me and said there is this part and that Tyler Perry wanted my phone number. He called me. He called and said, ‘Hey, I got this script I want you to check out. I’m a fan of your work. I’m interested in you playing this character.

DD: What was it about the character, Harley, that intrigued you?

RJ: I saw this guy had depth and a lot of different layers. That’s interesting as an actor.

DD:  What did you think when you read the script?  Was it always for Harley or were you ever considered for Brice?

RJ: It was always for Harley.  Ultimately my goal is to do something that touches people. When I find a script that has a great message, I’m interested.


DD: What about Harley did you identify with?

RJ: His basic need for love. He basically has some destructive and harmful ways of showing it. But everyone has the same need.

DD:  Who is Harley?  What do you like about Harley?  What don’t you like?

RJ:  What I love about Harley is his drive and the fact that he’s goal oriented. He’s a big time achiever. If he sets a goal he’s going to get. What I don’t like about him is that he has no concept of how to achieve these goals.

DD:  And, just who is he?

RJ: At his core he’s just really someone who has something to prove. He has a bit of a detachment disorder. He’s afraid of people leaving him.  His response to that has been to be good enough. 


DD: Harley doesn’t have a good track record with women. What do you look for in a woman?

RJ:  A woman who has a good sense of humor.  I really love a woman who is educated. I’d like to have a conversation. Someone who is well- traveled. Someone who loves the Lord like I love the Lord. That’s a big deal.  I like someone who is not too cool to get sweaty. I have a nice, long list.


DD:  Talk about working with Tyler Perry.

RJ: He works at a fast pace. Our pacing worked brilliantly together. His directing style was conducive to how I like to work.

DD: Your co-star is Jurnee Smollett-Bell.

RJ: Jurnee is brilliant. I say that with an exclamation point. She’s so giving and liberal and I would love to work with her again.  


DD:  You nemesis was Lance Gross.

RJ: He was fantastic even when he was beating me up. He has an amazing right hook (laughter).

DD: Why did you want to be an actor?

RJ:  Something about it spoke to me and it felt natural.  I like being an artist. It’s the ultimate way of expression. You get a chance to be someone and be someone else and give them a full life.

DD: When you started acting, what did you expect and what did you get?

RJ: I expected to learn a lot. That was the biggest thing. I wanted to learn as much as I could. Man, I got to work with Forest (Whitaker). I sat down with him and tried to work with him as much as I could. I continue to learn everyday. I’ve gotten tremendous experiences. I’ve gotten a chance to work with amazing people.  I’ve really grown.

DD: Weren’t you a super hot cheerleader who was in a love triangle in the show Hellcats?

RJ: (laughter) Uh, yeah.

DD: Hmmmm, maybe you have some issues.  I see a pattern emerging.

RJ: (laughter) It looks like that, huh?

DD: Ok, you have a crystal ball. What do you see five years from now and 10 years from now?

RJ: Five years from now I would like to have done quite a few more features and more successful television shows. I love both sides of the game. Ten years from now I’d like to be producing my own features and TV shows. I really have an interest in producing, but not directing.

Temptation is currently in theaters.

Las Cruces Convention Center Books Mike Epps

Las Cruces, New Mexico  - [March 29, 2013]       The Las Cruces Convention Center is thrilled to announce that comedian and actor Mike Epps will present “Mike Epps Live with special guest Tommy Black” on April 21, 2013.  

Epps has generated quite a buzz among his peers and within the industry for being one of the funniest comedic actors emerging in the Hollywood spotlight. Mike is perhaps best known for his role as “Day-Day” opposite Ice Cube in both Next Friday and Friday After Next. He has also starred in films such as The Hangover, The Fighting Temptations, Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse. He is consistently releasing new projects including the most recent DVD Mike Epps Presents: Live From Club Nokia and new behind the scenes video blogs at

“We are extremely excited to be working with Stellar Media to bring Epps to Las Cruces,” stated Global Spectrum’s David Hicks, General Manager of the Las Cruces Convention Center. “Mike Epps has played many roles in film and brings from fresh entertainment to area.”

Mike Epps will perform one night only on April 21, 2013.  General Admission tickets are available at the Las Cruces Convention Center, Pic Quik’s, and online at  VIP Ticekts are only available online at Doors open at 6:30PM; show starts at 7:30PM.  General Admission $48, VIP $65 and $75, and VIP with meet and greet $160.

The LEED Gold Las Cruces Convention Center has a building footprint of 55,000 square feet with just over 30,000 square feet of meeting space. The facility features a 14,500 square foot exhibition hall, a 8,900 square foot ballroom, and 6 break-out rooms totaling over 2,800 square feet. The Las Cruces Convention Center Staff is dedicated to providing professional event management.

About Global Spectrum: ( manages the Las Cruces Convention Center, as well as more than 115 other public assembly facilities around the world. Nearly 20-million people attended more than 11,000 events in Global Spectrum venues last year. Based in Philadelphia, PA, Global Spectrum is part of Comcast-Spectacor, one of the world’s largest sports and entertainment companies. Comcast-Spectacor also owns the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, Ovations Food Services, a food and beverage services provider, New Era Tickets, a full-service ticketing and marketing product for public assembly facilities, Paciolan, the leading provider of venue establishment ticketing, fundraising and marketing technology solutions, Front Row Marketing Services, a commercial rights sales company, and Flyers Skate Zone, a series of community ice skating rinks.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

HBFF's 'Project Stargazer' NASA Partnership

The Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's recently announced partnership has spawned its first initiative, PROJECT STARGAZER: Developing Diverse Sci Fi Movies for the 21st Century. With a mission to encourage and support creative, multicultural works in the science fiction genre, PROJECT STARGAZER is a competition for screenwriters and filmmakers to create a sci-fi filmed entertainment project featuring NASA technology. It will provide writers and filmmakers from diverse communities with new resources to tell science fiction stories that capture science facts resulting from NASA science missions. The announcement was made by Tanya Kersey, Founder and Executive Director, HBFF.

The goal of PROJECT STARGAZER is to identify great science fiction story ideas and encourage emerging visionary screenwriting talent from diverse communities. The program seeks to identify strong and thoughtful stories that incorporate NASA science facts and technology; stories that force the viewer to question reality; that explore reality and our perception of it; and that challenge us with the mystery of the mind and the universe.

"We're looking for ideas and stories that can be developed into scripts, and ultimately films that captivate broad audiences as well as inspire future generations of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) enthusiasts," says Ms. Kersey. "We want to nurture and celebrate the next generation of diverse sci-fi storytellers."

"Projects may incorporate future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, paranormal abilities, infinity, immortality, what is human, time, space, consciousness, etc. It's up to you," added Tony Chamblee, Program Director, PROJECT STARGAZER. You can find out about NASA technology at:, or

Anyone from first-time screenwriters and filmmakers to seasoned professionals can submit their story idea to PROJECT STARGAZER. Applicants must integrate at least one NASA technology into their submission. Submissions must include a logline, synopsis, treatment and an artistic statement describing your creative vision for the project. Submissions must also clearly feature one or more NASA technologies. The main characters should reflect the multi-cultural panorama of the 21st century. A panel of industry and NASA judges will score each submission based on originality, story idea, characters, tone, visual style, marketability, and use of NASA technology. Ten (10) semi-finalist Stargazers will be selected.

At HBFF 2013, the semi-finalist Stargazers will participate in an intensive workshop that includes individual one-on-one meetings and master classes with top industry writers, directors, producers and science/technology consultants to assist in the further development of the Stargazer projects. Each Stargazer will have the opportunity to pitch their projects to a panel of judges who will select three Stargazer finalists to participate in the 2014 PROJECT STARGAZER Lab. Finalists will be announced at the HBFF 2013 Closing Night Ceremony.

For complete details including submissions guidelines and entry dates for PROJECT STARGAZER,

To submit your story idea to PROJECT STARGAZER visit

The 13th Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival runs October 2-6, 2013 in Hollywood, CA. For more information: Like HBFF on Facebook at: Follow HBFF on Twitter at:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'The Game' Celebrates Season 6 Premiere in NY

Wendy Raquel Robinson, Debra Lee and Hosea Chanchez at Soho House NY   

(NEW YORK) - March 27, 2013 - The cast of BET's "The Game" toasted the sixth season and 100th episode of the hit series last night at the plush Soho House NY. Actors Wendy Raquel Robinson, Hosea Chanchez, Brandy Norwood, and Barry Floyd along with cast newcomers Lauren London and Jay Ellis were on hand to mix and mingle with close friends and BET execs, while tweeting live during the premiere broadcast. BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee welcomed the intimate gathering of guests, which included Jeanine Liburd (BET EVP, Communications and Public Affairs), Charlie Jordan Brookins (BET SVP, Original Programming), Kendrick Reid (BET SVP and Executive Creative Director), Eddie Hill (BET SVP, 360 Consumer Marketing), Connie Orlando (BET VP, Original Programming), Robi Reed (BET VP, Talent & Casting), Tika Sumpter, Naturi Naughton, Emil Wilbekin (ESSENCE), Bevy Smith and Toni Belafonte, the Ultimate "The Game" SuperFan, was also in attendance and celebrated the debut of her show "Sideline Wrap-Up" that night on
"The Game" airs Tuesdays at 10pm ET/PT on BET. Visit the show online at  
"Sideline Wrap-Up" posts Tuesdays at 11pm ET on   

               Brandy Norwood                                          Debra Lee and Lauren London                          Jay Ellis and Hosea Chanchez      

              Brandy, guest and Tika Sumpter                                                    Brandy autographs a commemorative poster  
     Barry Floyd and Wendy Raquel Robinson                   Naturi Naughton                         Charlie Jordan Brookins and Toni Belafonte   
               Guests tweeted their reactions all night.                                          Hosea, Wendy and Tika react to the new episode 

                   "The Game" Ultimate SuperFan Toni Belafonte                           Debra Lee thanks the cast for an exciting new season 

     Connie Orlando, Toni Belafonte, Robi Reed    Bevy Smith and Toni Belafonte                    Jay Ellis autographs the fan poster 
Fun times!

 Photos: James Pray

Monday, March 25, 2013

African First Ladies Unite To Improve The Health Of Women and Children

A coalition of African First Ladies, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for
Partnerships and the African Union Commission to the United States, will hold a summit in Los Angeles, California, April 2-4 with American business leaders and foreign assistance agencies to improve health care for women and children in Africa. 

Nearly 20 First Ladies from African nations are planning to gather for the health summit, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit US Doctors for Africa, with support from the Cameroon-based organization of African First Ladies, African Synergy, and the group of 54 nations comprising the African Union who are responsible for organizing the second in a series of African First Lady Health Summits dating back to 2009. The Los Angeles Intercontinental Hotel will
be the summit headquarters for the event. 

Ted Alemayhu, founder of US Doctors for Africa, praised the dedication of the African First Ladies to improve health care and infrastructure in support of Every Woman Every Child, an unprecedented global movement spearheaded by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. 

“I applaud your vision, fortitude, and tireless efforts to improve access to quality healthcare for women and children,” Alemayhu said. “We look forward to welcoming you, building stronger partnerships, and mobilizing more resources to reach your objectives.”

Forty-three African first ladies have been invited to the summit, and participation so far is anticipated by at least 15 nations: Angola, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Swaziland; including the First Lady of Haiti who is also expected to attend. 

US Representative Karen Bass, of California's 37th District, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, will welcome the group to Los Angeles. Additionally, prominent women leaders will gather for a special breakfast entitled `Ladies First: Healthy Country, Healthy Citizens' hosted by Marcia L. Dyson's `Women's Global Initiative' and featuring actresses and advocates Tichina Arnold and Tatyana Ali on day two of the conference. The closing gala awards address will be given by Desiree Rogers, Chief
Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing, a lifestyle company inspired by the African-American experience and the home of Ebony and Jet magazines, and Fashion Fair cosmetics. 

Corporate sponsors include Unither Virology and Procter & Gamble. Nonprofit sponsors include Santa Monica-based emergency response group International Medical Corps and Jhpiego, a health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University.

The reigning Miss USA, Nana Meriwether, will also join the summit to use the influence of her title to raise awareness about health care in Africa. Having roots in South Africa, Meriwether co-founded The Meriwether Foundation, which supports four African nations with HIV/AIDS programs.  

More details and information about the summit and registration can be found at Follow us on Twitter @1stLadiesAfrica and `Like' our Facebook Page First Ladies of Africa Health Summit for up-to-date information prior to the summit.  

For further inquiries, please reach summit producers Sid Balman at +1-202-368-4545,; or Joy DiBenedetto at +1-404-558-0858, 

Bennett Takes It To The 'End Of The Rainbow'


By Darlene Donloe

There are very few plays that leave an indelible mark and stay with me even into the next day.

End of the Rainbow, a musical drama by Peter Quilter about the life of Judy Garland in the months leading up to her death in 1969 at age 47, is one of those plays.

It’s powerful, engaging, tragic, entertaining, vibrant and sad. But, most of all, it’s a must-see!!

The show, directed by Terry Johnson, is currently playing at the Ahmanson Theatre through Apr. 21. This, after a Sydney premiere in 2005, a London stretch and a Broadway production, which opened in 2012.

Tracie Bennett plays Garland. Tracie Bennett is extraordinary! Tracie Bennett is brilliant! Tracie Bennett totally inhabits the persona of Judy Garland – and that’s no small feat.

Playing Garland looks exhausting. So, it stands to reason that actually being Judy Garland must have taken on behemoth proportions.

The play takes place in a London Hotel suite where she is staying while mounting one of her many comeback performances. It also takes place at the nightclub, Talk Of The Town.

To its credit, the show doesn’t play like it’s an imitation of Garland. Bennett’s performance, instead, goes deeper than that. It’s a full, consuming portrayal of the legendary artist, who starred in the ever popular “Wizard of Oz”, was the wife of director Vincent Minnelli and had two children Lorna Luft and Liza Minnelli.

Bennett’s voice, gait and quirky movements, even how she strikes a pose and holds a cigarette, are spot-on!

Fans and non-fans will both find this musical interesting and eye-opening. It’s like being a voyeur – eavesdropping on private conversations and private moments that an audience shouldn’t be privy to.   It’s sometimes better not to know much about the personal life of an idol.  Not everything is pretty.  Garland’s life was anything but pretty.  The behind the curtains look at her life revealed a woman who was surprisingly weak and lacked self-confidence, even though she was loved by throngs of admirers. She doubted herself on many levels – even the ability to be loved and to be worthy of love.  But, most of all, it was about the addictions to alcohol and pills that would eventually be her downfall. She needed them to get up and needed them to come down. She didn’t feel she was at her best on stage unless she was accompanied by said alcohol and pills.
Included in this story is her manager, fiancĂ© and last husband (her fifth), Mickey Deans, played by Erik Heger and her trusty pianist on the current run Anthony, played by Michael Cumpsty.  Miles Anderson joins the fray as both a BBC interviewer and a porter/AMS.  Cumpsty is sensational in his role and Heger is sufficiently sleazy in his role. Anderson holds the course.
Deans and Anthony whether they like it or not, have signed up to watch over the falling star – literally!  Deans actually enlisted, but Anthony is somehow recruited to do more than play the piano. 

Anthony, who is openly gay, doesn’t trust or like Deans. Deans isn’t too crazy about Anthony. But, they both have a common goal of keeping Garland on her feet and in shape to fulfill her performance contract.
Along the way, there are several musical performances at the Talk of the Town. When
Bennett opens her mouth to sing – it’s magical.  She bolts out a number of Garland hits, including ‘Come Rain or Come Shine,’ ‘Man That Got Away’ and, finally, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’

Actually, when she speaks, she’s equally enchanting talking about her famous friends, how she bemoans looking like her mother, how she was forced to take pills in order to perform, her previous husbands and her stint with MGM.  Every one of the aforementioned gets ripped. It’s clear that Judy Garland was a hot mess. But, in her defense, she didn’t become that completely on her own.

At one point in the show Garland says of her audience, “I gave them everything. There’s nothing left.”

William Dudley’s set design and costume design are more than effective. Apparently, he replicated Garland’s actual costumes. Kudos to Dudley whose set changes from the hotel suite to the nightclub to the radio station happens with relative ease.  The band is tight and on target.

End of the Rainbow, by Peter Quilter, directed brilliantly by Terry Johnson and starring Bennett, Heger, Anderson and Cumpsty, is an exquisite production.
On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t know), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), End of the Rainbow gets an E (excellent).

End of the Rainbow, Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center; Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.; Sun. 1 and 6:30 p.m.; no performance on Mondays; through April 21; added 2 p.m. performance on Thur., April 4 and 18; no 6:30 p.m. performance on Sun., March 24, Apr. 7 and 21; Tickets: $20-$110; 213 972-4400 or

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fey and Rudd Go Back To College in 'Admission'



Tina Fey ( 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live) is widely known as one of the best and funniest comedic actresses of her generation.

Paul Rudd (This is 40)  has made a career out of being ‘that guy’ in several romantic comedies.

Teamed up these two should deliver a helluva funny movie.

Hmmmm!  While there are a few chuckles in their latest movie, Admission, out nationwide March 22, it falls short in the funny bone department.

Admission (Focus Features), a Paul Weitz Film, is about the surprising detours people encounter on the road to happiness.

Fey play Portia Nathan, a Princeton University admissions office whose life is a hot mess.


First, out of the blue, her boyfriend leaves her for another woman. She has a ball buster for a mother, played with hilarity and flair by Lily Tomlin.

When Clarence (Wallace Shawn) the Dean of Admissions, announces that he’s retiring, she has to compete with an office rival named Corinne (Gloria Reuben) for the job.


Then, after meeting John Pressman (Rudd), a former classmate and idealistic teacher at New Quest, Nathan is thrown for a loop and her job is put in jeopardy after Pressman delivers some life-changing information.  Pressman invited Nathan to New Quest, specifically, to meet a young man named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), who he thinks is special and has the goods to be a success at Princeton.


After Nathan finds out some life-changing information about Jeremiah, Nathan finds herself in a quandary.

To be fair, the movie isn't bad, it's just not as funny as it should be with a cast that includes Fey, Rudd and Tomlin, who, for her part, does deliver the goods.

Unfortunately, the movie never really finds its groove. It starts to drag toward the middle and never corrects itself.  While they are adequate in their performances, Fey and Rudd were handcuffed by a script that doesn’t find its focus.

On the Donloe Scale: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Admission, Rated PG-13, gets an L (likeable).