Friday, January 31, 2014

Cast Is Set For 'Harmony,' A New Musical


Full casting is set for Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman’s “Harmony,” a new musical, opening March 12, 2014, at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre and playing through April 13. (Previews begin March 4). 
Directed by Tony Speciale, with music by Manilow and book and lyrics by Sussman, “Harmony” tells the true story of The Comedian Harmonists, an ensemble of six young men in pre-WWII Germany who rose from unemployed street musicians to become world-famous entertainers, selling millions of records, starring in over a dozen films, and selling out the most prestigious concert halls around the world.   Yet while The Comedian Harmonists’ sophisticated music, paired with hilarious comedy, made them the brightest of stars, the group’s mixture of Jews and non-Jews put them on a collision course with history.  “Harmony” is a co-production with the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta.
When Manilow and Sussman began working on Harmony,” Roman “Rabbi” Cykowski was the only surviving member of The Comedian Harmonists, and was able to talk with them about his life and experiences before passing away in 1998.  His memories, along with available historical information, provide the basis for the musical. 
The cast includes, in alphabetical order, Matt Bailey (first national tour of “Jersey Boys”), Will Blum (“The Book of Mormon” on Broadway), Hannah Corneau (“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “Fiddler on the Roof” in Chicago), Chris Dwan ( “The Old Boy” and “Peter & I” off-Broadway), Shayne Kennon (European tour of “Madagascar”), Leigh Ann Larkin (“A Little Night Music” and  “Gypsy” on Broadway), Will Taylor (“A Chorus Line” and “La Cage Aux Folles” on Broadway) and Douglas Williams (“Tigrane” at Opéra de Nice).
The ensemble for “Harmony” plays numerous roles, ranging from audience members and people on a train to recognized historical figures like Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein and Richard Strauss – all of whom the Comedian Harmonists knew.  Members of the ensemble include Liberty Cogen, Bryan Thomas Hunt, Greg Kamp, Chad Lindsey, Lindsay Moore, Brandon O’Dell, Patrick O’Neill, Charles Osborne, Kim Sava, Dave Schoonover and Lauren Elaine Taylor.
The “Harmony” creative team also includes choreographer JoAnn M. Hunter, music director John O’Neill, set and costume designer Tobin Ost, lighting designers Jeff Croiter (2012 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Play for “Peter and the Starcatcher) and Seth Jackson, sound designers John Shivers (2013 Tony Award for Best Sound Design for a Musical for “Kinky Boots”) and David Patridge, and projection designer Darrel Maloney.  Lora K. Powell is the production stage manager, Doug Walter is the orchestrator and casting is by Caleri Casting and Mark B. Simon, CSA.
Tickets for “Harmony” are available at, the CTG box office located at the Ahmanson Theatre, or by calling (213) 972-4400.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pan African Film Festival and AAFCA Set To Honor Former Film Industry Publicist Roz Stevenson


By Darlene Donloe

Former publicist Roz Stevenson doesn’t toot her own horn, but if she did she could talk about any number of high-profile Hollywood films that she worked on and helped to make a hit at the box office.

This week, the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) and the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) will recognize Stevenson’s groundbreaking role in the film industry by tooting her horn at the PAFF’s annual Night of Tribute.

The Night of Tribute is part of the pre-show festivities for AAFCA’s awards ceremony set to take place at 7 p.m., Fri., Jan. 31, at the Taglyan Complex, 1201 Vine Street in Hollywood.

PAFF and AAFCA are collaborating to honor world-renowned actors, filmmakers, community leaders and artists for their contributions in the film and entertainment industry.

Other honorees include: Jeff Clanagan of CodeBlack Enterprises (Pioneer Award), Charles Dutton  (Lifetime Achievement Award),  Tequan Richmond (Canada Lee Rising Star Award) and Emayatzy Corinealdi (Beah Richards Rising Award).
Presenters include: Ava DuVernay (award-winning director, “Middle of Nowhere,” “I Will”), Actor Isaiah Washington, Ayuko Babu (executive director, Pan African Film Festival,  Ja’Net Dubois (Emmy Award-winning actress (“Good Times”) and co-founder of the Pan African Film Festival), Soni Ede (publicist, Fox Home Entertainment) and journalist Sandra Varner (Talk2SV).
Stevenson and Clanagan will receive the festival’s Trailblazer and the Pioneer awards, respectively. The Night of Tribute honors world-renowned actors, filmmakers, community leaders and fine artists for their contributions on stage, television, film, the arts and the community.  

“These two individuals have not only excelled in their chosen professions, but they have been game changers in an ever-changing, fickle industry,” said Ayuko Babu, executive director of PAFF. “Both Roz and Jeff have been groundbreakers in Hollywood, knocking down barriers and serving as mentors for others following in their footsteps.”

Now retired, Stevenson served as the former president and CEO of Roz Stevenson Public Relations (RSPR) in Los Angeles.  She has more than 30 years of experience in the film industry.  RSPR specialized in motion picture publicity and promotions targeting the African-American market.  Founded in June 2000 with Universal Pictures as its main client, Stevenson’s agency made a positive impact on the studio’s motion picture releases.  In addition, she completed successful campaigns for other studios, including Sony Pictures, Screen Gems, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, New Line Cinemas, Fox Searchlight and HBO. 

Under her leadership, RSPR served on more than 100 film projects, including American Gangster, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Transformers, Talk to Me, Evan Almighty, Norbit, Are We Done, Yet?, Smokin’ Aces, Pursuit of Happyness, Inside Man, and Ray – just to name a few.  Prior to opening her own firm, Stevenson served as a senior publicist at Universal Pictures, responsible for national and local TV, radio publicity and African-American campaigns for all motion picture releases.  While at Universal, she worked on such award-winning films and box-office hits as Erin Brockovich, The Hurricane, The Best Man, The Mummy and Out of Sight.

I recently caught up with Stevenson to talk about her career and her legacy.

DD: You are being feted with the Trailblazer award.  Do you consider yourself a trailblazer?

RS:  I guess I am. I didn’t think about that.  I was just doing my job. I like mentoring upcoming publicists. I wasn’t thinking about that. I just know that when I started, the studios weren’t doing set visits for black press. I knew studios would take sci-fi press on sets, though.

DD: It seems like the studios don’t deem the black press as being important.

RS: That’s the mistake they make. You have to educate the studio and the filmmakers about sources other than Ebony Essence, BET and Jet. They didn’t know TV One is a network.  Broadcast critics didn’t know.  Public relations is about how you meet all aspects of the community. When I was doing PR, I went to all the Tastemakers.  We did all of the events with people who represent various facets of the black community. We recognized that it was important.  I was always thinking deeper and broader about our community.  We go backward sometimes.

DD: You are being honored by the Pan African Film Festival.  What did you think when you first found out about it?

RS: I’ve been retired for six years. I was like, really? People are still thinking about me.  It’s nice.

DD: When you started there was no internet.

RS: The internet changed the game. In 1980 there was no internet. Then My Space became big. They didn’t have Facebook and Twitter. It all came after I retired. If I went back in today, I wouldn’t know how to do the social media piece. People don’t read magazine and watch shows like they used to. It’s all about the internet. 

DD: Do you feel you made a difference in the PR/entertainment industry?  In what way?

RS: I think I made a difference in term of, when I asked Universal (Pictures) to let me go to each major black publication and outlet and ask them how we can better help them. The outlets said, ‘just take our call’. To think the black press felt I was there for them was important. They knew I said what I meant and I meant what I said. I wanted the press to feel comfortable that they could call me. When black stars would see me, they were proud. All they ever saw was white people.  I worked with Kim Basinger and at the end of the day she was like, ‘can you come work with us’. I took care of them. That is something that comes natural to me, maybe because I was a wife and mother.

DD: Why did you want to become a PR professional?

RS: It was something I fell into. I first started as an actress. I didn’t know about publicity. I went to MGM looking to be a production coordinator or manager. I ended up in the publicity department waiting to interview for a coordinator position. God put me in the right place.  I was a good writer. I organized parties.  It was a perfect job for me. I worked for 10 years in the biz before I fell into it.

DD: An actress?  Talk about that.

RS: I came from acting workshops. I was an extra. I was in Lady Sings The Blues, Room 222, Marcus Welby and Emergency. I had regular work. I thought I was going to be getting some speaking roles. I realized this wasn’t going to make it. I went into production on the show Good Times.  There was this  Minority Comedy Writing Program – for Norman Lear for all of his shows.  My next plan was to go to  a studio and become a production coordinator or manager. When I went to MGM that’s what I wanted to do.

DD: So, what was your next move?

RS: I went to UCLA to take a course in their PR Designation. It took me a year to finish it. Then I became an apprentice, then a junior publicist and then a senior publicist at MGM.  I voluntarily started doing black newspapers and Jet. When I learned what publicity and marketing was, I loved it. I used to work for the president of marketing at MGM. I told him, ‘you don’t know much about me, but I want to be a publicist’. I took the PR course and he made me one. I took the course in 1980 and became a publicist in 1982.

DD: What was the first movie that you did on your own?

RS: Breakin’ was the first movie I broke by myself.
Break dancing was the craze.  It came out number one at the box office. It was a phenomenon. I saw things from a different viewpoint.  I started being a go to person. They respected my opinions.

DD: So, eventually you were cut from MGM when it was sold to Ted Turner.

RS: I had six weeks to find a job. Two weeks before I was let go, a president at MGM called a president at Universal and I got the job there. I was like, ‘thank you, God.’

DD: Would you advise a young, black person to get in the PR industry?

RS: Oh, yeah! It’s just, what it is. You have to know how to get along with studios, white folks and black folks. Some get in there and want to only please white folks, but not black folks. They don’t try to get to know who the black media is.  I had a passion for it.

DD: Advice you’d give a young person just coming into the biz?  What should they know?

RS: A lot of them have to know when you come in with a Bachelor’s and Masters degree, it doesn’t mean anything. Make an impression. Do what you need to do. Get coffee, take notes. Have the right attitude. Be good at what they ask you to do before you start asking for promotions. You have to develop relationships. Know how to write. Figure out what works for you. Be able to get along with filmmakers, stars, your staff and the media, everybody. It’s exciting work.  Be able to multitask. Work on one film at a time. Make them believe you’re only working on their project.

DD:  Why did you open your own firm, Roz Stevenson Public Relations?

RS: I had it for 10 years. That was another one of those things. I didn’t see it coming. The vice president of special markets at Universal came to me after the Best Man and Hurricane campaigns.  She said I should do special markets. She said, ‘Tell me what we missed.’ I brought in my proposal. She said, ‘Why not open up your own and become our consultant?’ Then she said, ‘Universal will be your main client.’ It took six months. This was 1999.  I never saw that coming.

DD: In your 30 years in the biz, what was your most important lesson learned?

RS: I learned what my mother always said was true, ‘You do all you can and God will do the rest.’ I was 28 years in publicity, 38 in the industry. You can make it in the business but it’s a lot of work. It’s so fulfilling. I still see things on TV that I worked on that warms my heart.  It’s a wonderful life. It’s not a joy ride. The work is hard. This is a young person’s game. 

DD: What are you most proud of in your career?

RS: I think various campaigns, but, I think it’s Ray. Everything was perfect. Jamie (Foxx) wanted to do everything we wanted to do. When I first saw an uncut piece, I said Jamie Foxx is going to win an Oscar.  When we won best marketing campaign of the year from the Publicist Guild, it was for Ray. We won for Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List and The Help. Ray is still my favorite.  Also worked on American Gangster.
DD: Why did you retire?

RS: I was tired. I was 65 years old. My mother was sick. We had some family crisis. I wanted to be able to spend time with my mother, who passed away two years ago and my grandchildren and some other seniors in my family. I stay busy all the time. 

DD: Your feelings about the PAFF?

RS: I go every year. There are always movies that I want to see. I worked on the PAFF when I first started my business. It’s a wonderful part of our community. I love it. I love the artists. It’s a part of the King Holiday all the way through Black History Month.

DD: What do awards/honors mean to you?

RS: I think they’re nice. I never think about people honoring me.  I never expected it. I’m glad it’s PAFF. We have history.

The 22nd annual PAFF will be held on Feb. 6-17, at the new Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills 15 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles. PAFF is the grant recipient of the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. The festival thanks the generous support of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and RAVE Cinemas.  For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Passing Of Former Academy President Sherak

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy is deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved former president Tom Sherak.

Sherak joined the Executives Branch of the Academy in 1983. He served three terms on the Board of Governors, from August 2003 through July 2012, the last three as President.

He was most recently named Los Angeles film czar by Mayor Eric Garcetti to support local film production and serve as a liaison between state lawmakers and the entertainment industry.

Sherak’s remarkable five-decade career has seen him at the pinnacle of motion picture marketing, distribution and production at companies including Revolution Studios, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.

He was founder and chairman of the MS Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting the needs of the Multiple Sclerosis community.

His passion and tireless energy impacted the Academy in countless ways – especially his support of our new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Statement from Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President
“In the more than 30 years I’ve known Tom, his passionate support of and excitement about the motion picture business, the Academy, his family and friends never wavered. He was truly larger than life, and he will be missed.”

Statement from Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO
“He was my mentor and my friend.  I learned from him, I laughed with him, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time we shared together.  He had a huge influence on the direction of our Academy and on me personally.  I will miss laughing with him most of all.”

Oscars® Set To Celebrate 'The Wizard Of Oz'

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — The Oscars will honor the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz,” a best picture nominee in 1939, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. "We are delighted to celebrate the birthday of one of the most beloved movies of all time at this year’s Oscars,” said Zadan and Meron.

“The Wizard of Oz” received six Oscar nominations, winning two for Original Score and Song.
Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The telecast, produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

# # #

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners–Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Wendy Williams & AJ Calloway Tapped To Co-Host 15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration



Tickets Currently Available on, with Portion of Ticket Sales
Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
NEW YORK, NY – January 27, 2014 – Television Show Host Wendy Williams and EXTRA TV Correspondent AJ Calloway were announced today as co-hosts for the 15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. GRAMMY® Award-winning Motown Gospel Artist Tasha Cobbs has also been announced as a performer for the pre-show. Sponsored by American Family Insurance, the NFL Sanctioned concert brings faith, football and music together – all on one stage for a night full of performances by award-winning artists, church and faith leaders and special guests. Kicking off Super Bowl XLVIII weekend, the mega-event will be held at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday, January 31, 2014.
Named as one of the “35 Most Powerful People in Media” by The Hollywood Reporter, Wendy Williams is known to audiences as the host of her long-running and popular talk show “The Wendy Williams Show.” A best-selling author and media personality, Wendy brings years of experience captivating audiences with her distinctive and entertaining personality. AJ Calloway wears many hats: as an entrepreneur, television personality and correspondent of the popular syndicated entertainment news show “EXTRA.” AJ is well known for being at the center of all things entertainment - interviewing the most talked about celebrities, athletes and notables in the country.
Joining the exceptional line-up of performers for the 15th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will be GRAMMY® Award-winning and Motown Gospel artist Tasha Cobbs. Sponsored by American Family Insurance, two winners of the special “Your Dream is Out There” Gospel Sensations contest, won an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City to sing with Tasha Cobbs live at the pre-show for the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.
Previously announced as the headliner of the concert event, is legendary entertainer and GRAMMY® Award-winner Patti LaBelle. Other performances at this year’s concert include GRAMMY® Award-winning Gospel duo Mary Mary, GRAMMY® nominated Christian contemporary singer Natalie Grant, Dove Award-winning vocalist & actress Tamela Mann, GRAMMY® Award-winning Gospel artist and Pastor of Perfecting Faith Church in New York, Donnie McClurkin and the NFL Player’s Choir, which is exclusively composed of current and former players, being lead this year by Myron Butler, as well as Ray Chew (American Idol, BET Awards, Miss Universe 2013) who will be serving as this year’s musical director.
Since its inception in 1999, the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration has donated a portion of its proceeds and more than 5,500 tickets to local and national charities. This year’s benefactor is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Tickets to the concert are currently available for purchase on The show will air in national syndication over broadcast television stations in February 2014. Air dates and local listings to be announced in January.
Sponsoring this year’s green room, The Credit Suisse Green Room experience at the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration will be an oasis of relaxation and hospitality for guests. The room will feature lounging areas, refreshments and a Mediterranean-style cuisine, providing the ultimate VIP experience.
About The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration:
The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration was launched in Miami in 1999 during Super Bowl XXXIII weekend.  In 2002, the event became the first, and remains the only concert sanctioned by the National Football League (NFL). The show has drawn crowds in the thousands and has demonstrated growth year-after-year, selling out venues in major Super Bowl host cities including Dallas, Tampa, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston and Phoenix. For more information, visit:
About American Family Insurance:
Based in Madison, Wisconsin, American Family Insurance offers auto, homeowners, life, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states and is the nation’s third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 382nd on the Fortune 500 list. For more information visit:,,, and

The 56th Annual Grammy Awards Winners!!!

Beyonce and Jay Z opened the 56th annual Grammy Awards with a hotter than July rendition of their hit, Drunk In Love. The awards ceremony was held at the Staples Center last night in Los Angeles. The show had great performances from Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Chicago, Robin Thicke, Carole King and Sara Bareilles, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, Lorde, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and more.

A list of winners is below:
Record of the year
"Get Lucky" -- Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers -- WINNER
"Radioactive" -- Imagine Dragons
"Royals" -- Lorde
"Locked out of Heaven" -- Bruno Mars
"Blurred Lines" -- Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell

Album of the year
"The Blessed Unrest" -- Sara Bareilles
"Random Access Memories" -- Daft Punk -- WINNER
"Good Kid, M.A.A.D City" -- Kendrick Lamar
"The Heist" -- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
"Red" -- Taylor Swift

Song of the year
"Just Give Me a Reason" -- P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
"Locked Out of Heaven" -- Bruno Mars
"Roar" -- Katy Perry
"Royals" -- Lorde -- WINNER
"Same Love" -- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Best new artist
James Blake
Kendrick Lamar
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis -- WINNER
Kacey Musgraves
Ed Sheeran

Best pop solo performance
Sara Bareilles -- "Brave"
Lorde -- "Royals" -- WINNER
Bruno Mars -- "When I Was Your Man"
Katy Perry -- "Roar"
Justin Timberlake -- "Mirrors"

Best pop duo/group performance
Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers -- "Get Lucky" -- WINNER
P!nk featuring Nate Ruess -- "Just Give Me a Reason"
Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko -- "Stay"
Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell -- "Blurred Lines"
Justin Timberlake and Jay Z -- "Suit & Tie"

Best pop instrumental album
Herb Alpert -- "Steppin' Out" -- WINNER
Boney James -- "The Beat"
Earl Klugh -- "Handpicked"
Dave Koz, Gerald Albright, Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot -- "Summer Horns"
Jeff Lorber Fusion -- "Hacienda"

Best pop vocal album
Lana Del Rey -- "Paradise"
Lorde -- "Pure Heroine"
Bruno Mars -- "Unorthodox Jukebox" -- WINNER
Robin Thicke -- "Blurred Lines"
Justin Timberlake -- "The 20/20 Experience -- The Complete Experience"

Best dance recording
"Need U (100%)" -- Duke Dumont featuring A*M*E & MNEK
"Sweet Nothing" -- Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch
"Atmosphere" -- Kaskade
"The is What it Feels Like" -- Armin Van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie
"Clarity" -- Zedd featuring Foxes -- WINNER

Best dance/electronica album
"Random Access Memories" -- Daft Punk -- WINNER
"Settle" -- Disclosure
"18 Months" -- Calvin Harris
"Atmosphere" -- Kaskade
"A Color Map of the Sun" -- Pretty Lights

Best traditional pop vocal album
"Viva Duets" -- Tony Bennett and various artists
"To Be Loved" -- Michael Bublé -- WINNER
"The Standards" -- Gloria Estefan
"Cee Lo's Magic Moment" -- Cee Lo Green
"Now" -- Dionne Warwick

Best rock performance
Alabama Shakes -- "Always Alright"
David Bowie -- "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)"
Imagine Dragons -- "Radioactive" -- WINNER
Led Zeppelin -- "Kashmir"
Queens of the Stone Age -- "My God is the Sun"
Jack White -- "I'm Shakin' "

Best metal performances
Anthrax -- "T.N.T."
Black Sabbath -- "God is Dead?" -- WINNER
Dream Theater -- "The Enemy Inside"
Killswitch Engage -- "In Due Time"
Volbeat featuring King Diamond -- "Room 24"

Best rock song
"Ain't Messin' 'Round" -- Gary Clark Jr.
"Cut Me Some Slack" -- Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear -- WINNER
"Doom and Gloom" -- The Rolling Stones
"God Is Dead?" -- Black Sabbath
"Panic Station" -- Muse

Best rock album
Black Sabbath -- "13"
David Bowie -- "The Next Day"
Kings of Leon -- "Mechanical Bull"
Led Zeppelin -- "Celebration Day" -- WINNER
Queens of the Stone Age -- "... Like Clockwork"
Neil Young with Crazy Horse -- "Psychedelic Pill"

Best alternative music album
Neko Case -- "The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You"
The National -- "Trouble Will Find Me"
Nine Inch Nails -- "Hesitation Marks"
Tame Impala -- "Lonerism"
Vampire Weekend -- "Modern Vampires of the City" -- WINNER

Best R&B performance
Tamar Braxton -- "Love and War"
Anthony Hamilton -- "Best of Me"
Hiatus Kaiytoe featuring Q-Tip -- "Nakamarra"
Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar -- "How Many Drinks?"
Snarky Puppy with Lala Hathaway -- "Something" -- WINNER

Best traditional R&B performance
Gary Clark Jr. -- "Please Come Home" -- WINNER
Fantasia -- "Get It Right"
Maysa -- "Quiet Fire"
Gregory Porter -- "Hey Laura"
Ryan Shaw -- "Yesterday"

Best R&B song
"Best of Me" -- Anthony Hamilton
"Love and War" -- Tamar Braxton
"Only One" -- PJ Morton featuring Stevie Wonder
"Pusher Love Girl" -- Justin Timberlake -- WINNER
"Without Me" -- Fantasia featuring Kelly Rowland and Missy Elliott

Best urban contemporary album
Tamar Braxton -- "Love and War"
Fantasia -- "Side Effects of You"
Salaam Remi -- "One: In the Chamber"
Rihanna -- "Unapologetic" -- WINNER
Mack Wilds -- "New York: A Love Story"

Best R&B album
Faith Evans -- "R&B Divas"
Alicia Keys -- "Girl on Fire" -- WINNER
John Legend -- "Love in the Future"
Chrisette Michele -- "Better"
TGT -- "Three Kings"

Best rap performance
Drake -- "Started From the Bottom"
Eminem -- "Berserk"
Jay Z -- "Tom Ford"
Kendrick Lamar -- "Swimming Pools (Drank)"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz -- "Thrift Shop" -- WINNER

Best rap/sung collaboration
J. Cole featuring Miguel -- "Power Trip"
Jay Z featuring Beyoncé -- "Part II (On the Run)"
Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake -- "Holy Grail" -- WINNER
Kendrick Lamar featuring Mary J. Blige -- "Now or Never"
Wiz Khalifa featuring the Weeknd -- "Remember You"

Best rap song
"F***in' Problems" -- A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
"Holy Grail" -- Jay Z featuring Justin Timberlake
"New Slaves" -- Kanye West
"Started From the Bottom" -- Drake
"Thrift Shop" -- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis -- WINNER

Best rap album
Drake -- "Nothing Was the Same"
Jay Z -- "Magna Carta ... Holy Grail"
Kendrick Lamar -- "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis -- "The Heist" -- WINNER
Kanye West -- "Yeezus"

Best country solo performance
Lee Brice -- "I Drive Your Truck"
Hunter Hayes -- "I Want Crazy"
Miranda Lambert -- "Mama's Broken Heart"
Darius Rucker -- "Wagon Wheel" -- WINNER
Blake Shelton -- "Mine Would Be You"

Best country duo/group performance
The Civil Wars -- "From This Valley" -- WINNER
Kelly Clarkson featuring Vince Gill -- "Don't Rush"
Little Big Town -- "Your Side of the Bed"
Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban -- "Highway Don't Care"
Kenny Rogers With Dolly Parton -- "You Can't Make Old Friends"

Best country song
"Begin Again" -- Taylor Swift
"I Drive Your Truck" -- Lee Brice
"Mama's Broken Heart" -- Miranda Lambert
"Merry Go 'Round" -- Kacey Musgraves -- WINNER
"Mine Would Be You" -- Blake Shelton

Best country album
Jason Aldean -- "Night Train"
Tim McGraw -- "Two Lanes of Freedom"
Kacey Musgraves -- "Same Trailer Different Park" -- WINNER
Blake Shelton -- "Based on a True Story"
Taylor Swift -- "Red"

Best Latin pop album
Frankie J -- "Faith, Hope y Amor"
Ricardo Montaner -- "Viajero Frecuente"
Draco Rosa -- "Vida" -- WINNER
Aleks Syntek -- "Syntek"
Tommy Torres -- "12 Historias"

Best Latin rock, urban or alternative album
Café Tacvba -- "El Objeto Antes Llamado Disco"
El Tri -- "Ojo Por Ojo"
Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas -- "Chances"
La Santa Cecilia -- "Treinta Dias" -- WINNER
Los Amigos Invisibles -- "Repeat After Me"

Producer of the year, nonclassical
Rob Cavallo
Dr. Luke
Ariel Rechtshaid
Jeff Tweedy
Pharrell Williams -- WINNER

Best compilation soundtrack for visual media
"Django Unchained"
"The Great Gatsby" (deluxe edition)
"Les Miserables" (deluxe edition
"Muscle Shoals"
"Sound City: Real to Reel" -- WINNER

Best score soundtrack for visual media
"The Great Gatsby"
"Life of Pi"
"Skyfall" -- WINNER
"Zero Dark Thirty"

Best song written for visual media
Coldplay -- "Atlas" -- "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
Jessie J -- "Silver Lining" -- "Silver Linings Playbook"
Adele -- "Skyfall" -- "Skyfall" -- WINNER
Colbie Caillat featuring Gavin DeGraw -- "We Both Know" -- "Safe Haven"
Lana Del Rey -- "Young and Beautiful" -- "The Great Gatsby" (deluxe edition)
Regina Spektor -- "You've Got Time" -- "Orange is the New Black"

Best music video
Captial Cities -- "Safe and Sound"
Jay Z -- "Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton -- "Can't Hold Us"
Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z -- "Suit & Tie" -- WINNER
Jack White -- "I'm Shakin'"

Best music film
Coldplay -- "Live 2012"
Green Day -- "¡Cuatro!"
Ben Harper With Charlie Musselwhite -- "I'm in I'm Out and I'm Gone: The Making of Get Up!"
Paul McCartney -- "Live Kisses" -- WINNER
Mumford & Sons -- "The Road to Red Rocks"

Best improvised jazz solo

WINNER "Orbits" — Wayne Shorter, soloist
"Don't Run" — Terence Blanchard, soloist
"Song for Maura" — Paquito D'Rivera, soloist
"Song Without Words #4: Duet" — Fred Hersch, soloist
"Stadium Jazz" — Donny McCaslin, soloist

Best jazz vocal album
WINNER: Liquid Spirit — Gregory Porter
"The World According to Andy Bey" — Andy Bey
"Attachments" — Lorraine Feather
"WomanChild" — Cécile McLorin Salvant

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Christopher Plummer Has 'A Word Or Two'

By Darlene Donloe

Christopher Plummer, the Tony Award and Academy Award winner, is holding a master class on the Ahmanson Theatre stage.

 One the finest and most respected actors on the planet, Plummer is baring his soul as he shares his lifetime love of literature.

It’s poignant, hilarious, touching, intimate and stately for the audience and probably incredibly lethargic for the legendary actor.

A Word Or Two, a one-man show, is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys) and written, arranged and performed by Plummer who draws his audience in with his incredible wit, timing and colorful way around a story.

“This brief interlude of mine could be described as a personal stroll through literature that has stirred my imagination since you, ad that I cannot let go,” says Plummer. “The poetry and prose I have chosen is both silly and sad, sacred and profane. They range from Winnie the Pooh to the Old Testament, from Nash and Leacock to Shaw and Wilde from Auden and Frost to Shakespeare and Jonson. They are intended to illuminate along the way the several phases of my particular moon.”

 Plummer, who confesses to being “hooked on the intoxication of words,” spent much of his time growing up in Montreal reading Ben Jonson, George Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling, A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Lord Byron, Dylan Thomas, W.H. Auden and Stephen Leacock, and others.  His personal take on these literary giants forms a journey from childhood to old age. 

For 80 minutes the 84-year-old Plummer effortlessly saunters around the stage offering up tidbits about moments of his life that directly correlate with what he was reading at the time.

Plummer’s love for books is obvious. He breathes them. He hugs them. He respects them. But, most of all, he reads them and appreciates the art form.

Plummer loves books. That’s very clear. He’s been having an affair with books for decades. They took him places, they taught him things, they kept him company when there was no one else around.   He suffered from what he calls “crippling shyness.” He remembers the first time he came in contact with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.  He was hooked.

Plummer is nothing short of brilliant.  McAnuff’s direction is tight. Robert Brill’s set actually sets the tone with its inclusion of a plume of books rising to the heavens, a desk and chair.

Plummer would have been just as effective with a bare stage. He shines. His sparkling persona and engaging delivery make A Word or Two a must see!

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (Oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), A Word or Two gets an E (excellent).

A Word or Two, Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Ave., LA; 8 p.m. Tues-Thu., 3 p.m. Sat and Feb. 9, 1 p.m. Feb. 2. Ends Feb. 9; $20-$90; 213 972-4400 and  Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission.

'Gimme Shelter', A Moving Journey Of Survival

By Darlene Donloe

Gimme Shelter is a movie based on inspiring true events that will leave the audience drenched in emotions.

Uneasy to watch, hard to fathom, it’s a look inside the courageous story of Agnes “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) and her incredible path to motherhood as a pregnant, homeless teen.

To say this girl has had a hard way to go would be an understatement. Not only is she forced to flee her drugged out, abusive mother (Rosario Dawson), earlier in her life she was turned away by her Wall Street father played by Brendan Fraser. 

The movie opens with Apple shearing off her long hair and convincing herself that she was not afraid to make her escape.

Determined to have a better life for herself and her unborn child, Apple sets out on a journey of survival that is disturbing.

She eventually makes her way to the New Jersey home of the father she never met. Mistaken for someone trying to break in, Apple is arrested, but is quickly let go when her father comes home and recognizes her.

Her father’s wife (Stephanie Szostak), is none to happy to have Apple intrude on their peaceful, happy, suburban existence.  

Apple, feeling unwelcomed, once again hits the streets. She soon learns the streets are not her friend.

Over the years, Apple held on to the one thing she had from her father, a letter explaining why he wasn’t in her life, but how he still loved her.

After she ends up in the hospital after getting away from a thuggish pimp by crashing his car, she meets a man (James Earl Jones) who has an interest in helping her turn her life around. But, Apple is skeptical and untrusting. With trepidation she cracks the door to her world and allows her to lead her to salvation. He gets her support in a suburban shelter for homeless teenagers.

Still unsteady and unsure, Apple decides to give it a shot. Eventually her confidence grows and she embraces her new possibilities.

Her initial distrust and hostility for the world starts to decrease. She eventually starts to bond with the other teenage mothers.

Hudgens transforms herself. She goes deep inside a character that is uncomfortable, complicated and complex.  She’s unrecognizable and gives way to some emotions that, even as an actress, have to be difficult.

Dawson (Sin City, Trance) is equally mesmerizing. She too goes deep into her character who has hit the bottom, but continues to dig. Throwing caution to the wind, both of the actresses bring their A-game.

This is a powerful story told by powerful actresses unafraid to bare their souls.

To prepare for the role, Hudgens (High School Musical) lived for weeks in pregnancy shelters, interacting with the young homeless mothers who also appear in the film, completely altering her appearance.

Gimme Shelter (Roadside Attractions and Day 28 Films), written and directed by Ronald Krauss, stars Vanessa Hudgens, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, Stephanie Szostak, Emily Meade, Ann Dowd and Brendan Fraser.

On the DONLOE SCALE, D (don’t bother), O (oh, no) N (needs works), L (likeable) O (OK) and E (excellent), Gimme Shelter gets an O (OK).

Friday, January 24, 2014

R&B Legends Set For Arizona Jazz Festival


Parade of Grammy winners and R&B legends set to join a stellar jazz slate March 7-9, including Ne-Yo, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, The Isley Brothers and Gladys Knight

With thousands of old school and new school R&B and contemporary jazz fans from across the U.S. flocking to Phoenix twice a year for the Arizona Jazz Festival, promoter will present a captivating crop of Grammy winners, hall of fame legends and current chart-toppers at the spring edition taking place March 7-9, 2014 at the luxurious Arizona Grand Resort & Spa. Tickets are available now as three-day or single-day concerts through the Arizona Jazz Festival website ( or by calling 602.244.8444 with prices ranging from $50-$750.

Grammy winner Ne-Yo serves as opening night headliner in what promises to be an elaborately choreographed production showcasing R&B-pop hits from the singer-songwriter-producer accompanied by a splashy army of dancers and backing musicians. Opening the evening, eight-time Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Ledisi offers a smooth blend of sophisticated soul brushed with elements of jazz.

The Saturday schedule gets underway with a pair of soul-jazz saxophonists, Marion Meadows and Paul Taylor, performing as a dynamic duo. Hitmen Euge Groove, Peter White and Rick Braun unite as Jazz Attack for an energetic set from the instrumental fan favorites. In advance of a national concert trek, a unified collective of R&B vocalists and contemporary jazz musicians will debut as the Hypnotic Groove Tour. Crooner Jeffrey Osborne, Grammy winner Faith Evans, Grammy nominee Maysa, singer-songwriter Rahsaan Patterson, neo soul trombonist Jeff Bradshaw and saxmen Eric Darius, Michael Lington and Dominic Amato will mix and match in a variety of intriguing combos. Next, Motown legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Smokey Robinson will cruise through a collection of his sparkling-eyed classics. Considered the Godmother of Soul, Grammy winner Patti LaBelle will unleash her force of nature voice into the desert night to close the bill.

Opening the final day is Michelle Williams, a Grammy winner as a member of Destiny’s Child who has also achieved award-winning solo success as a gospel and R&B vocalist and on Broadway as an actress. Leela James, a gritty-voiced new school singer heavily influenced by iconic old school vocalists, will belt out a soul-stirring set of R&B, hip hop and blues joints. An international trio composed of Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown, South African singer-songwriter-guitarist Jonathan Butler and Swiss-born pianist Alex Bugnon infuse global sounds into a multicultural mosaic of jazz, R&B and pop. The Empress of Soul, seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight brings an air of class to the festival along with decades of crossover hits. Grammy-nominated chart-topper Dave Koz & Friends Summer Horns with Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot and Gerald Albright conjure fun memories as the all-star sax quartet rips through horn-powered hits from the ‘70s and ‘80s packed with funk, R&B and jazz. In the festival’s closing spot, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and 2014 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winners Ronald Isley and Ernie Isley aka The Isley Brothers bring a wide-ranging songbook of soul, R&B, funk, rock and street corner doo-wop hits that dates back to 1959.                    

A host of the festival’s artists will participate in the All-Star Jam after the Saturday program concludes and some will perform at The Sunday Brunch with seating beginning for the buffet and inspirational concert at 9 AM. Separate tickets are required for these events and are available for $25 and $39.50 respectively.

Taking place in March and October, the Arizona Jazz Festival is a music and lifestyle experience held at a plush first-class resort attracting a diverse adult audience from all over the nation. Attendees often make a vacation out of it by immersing themselves in the music while taking advantage of the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa’s extensive offerings such as the all-suite hotel’s 18-hole golf course, water park, athletic club, full-service spa and salon, and six on-site restaurants. Ticket and hotel packages are available at        

About BTW

Phoenix, Arizona-based is one of the premier concert producers in the Southwest. Among the star-studded jazz and R&B concerts and multiday music and lifestyle festivals that the company promotes at first-class resorts are the Arizona Jazz Festival (, San Diego Jazz Festival ( and the Las Vegas Jazz Festival (’s sister company for at sea events,, will launch the maiden voyage of the Maxwell + The 7 Seas Cruise ( in 2015.