Saturday, May 31, 2014

MacFarlane's 'Million Ways' Is A Dirty Comedy

 By Darlene Donloe
 The West isn’t a safe place. It would seem there are a million ways to die out there.

From the guy that brought you Ted comes A Million Ways To Die In The West, a raunchy, naughty comedy that is a send up about rural life in the west circa Arizona 1882.

The film, now open nationwide, is produced, directed, co-written (Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) and stars Seth MacFarlane, who is no stranger to writing on the edge.   

The western spoof, a distant cousin to Blazing Saddles, is edgy, gross, crass, dirty, eye-opening, nasty, juvenile, but is also smart and really funny.

Seth MacFarlane, who hosted the 2013 Oscars®, plays Albert Stark, a hapless, cowering sheep farmer in the Old West who loses his girl (Amanda Seyfried) when he ducks out of a fight, only to be taught how to shoot by the wife (Charlize Theron) of an infamous gunfighter (Liam Neeson).

Stark hates the West. He hates everything about the West.
“We live in a terrible place and time,” says Stark. “Everything that’s not you wants to kill you.”

In the film, Stark tries to talk his way out of every situation and talk his way into every situation.  Although MacFarlane is no actor, he is surrounded by some heavyweights including Theron, Neeson, Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi and Neil Patrick Harris, who all help to buoy the film.

Theron, who looks out of place in the film, surprisingly has some comedic chops, Neeson plays a great bad guy and Harris is high-larious as a vain bad boy who dons a curling handlebar mustache.

Giovanni Ribisi plays, Edward, Stark’s best friend, who is a prim, virginal shoe repairman whose girlfriend, Ruth (Sarah Silverman), is a prostitute who services up to 15 clients a day. Ruth rather nonchalantly recaps her day’s work to Edward – complete with blow-by-blow descriptions (pun intended).  Ironically, Ruth insists that she and Edward not consummate their relationship until marriage because they are good Christians. (**blank stare**)

The script is choppy, but the film doesn’t try to fool anyone. It is what it is. There is even a section in the film when MacFarlane walks out of frame and then back into frame to explain a joke that could have gone over the head of some viewers.

There are some choice cameos in the film – with the very last one answering a question this reviewer had throughout the film. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the question without a spoiler alert.  Lets just say there is a huge omission in the film.

A Million Ways to Die in the West (Universal) is rated R (Violence/Strong Sexual Content/Profanity/Drug Content; Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian for scatological humor).  Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes.

The movie is directed by Seth MacFarlane; written by MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. It stars Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Liam Neeson.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), A Million Ways To Die In The West gets an O (OK).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trumpeter Rick Braun Asks 'Can You Feel It'

Chart-topping trumpeter returns July 8 with his first contemporary jazz album in five years; “Get Up and Dance” starts the party at radio

Sherman Oaks, Calif. (29 May 2014): It’s been five years since trumpeter-flugelhorn player Rick Braun released an album full of the funky R&B contemporary jazz grooves that made him one of the genre’s most consistent hitmakers over the past twenty years, but the award-winning musician, producer and songwriter returns to his signature sound July 8 with the release of his sixteenth album, “Can You Feel It,” which will be issued by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. A bona fide contender as the feel good anthem for the summer of 2014, Braun’s “Get Up And Dance,” a collaboration with tenor sax sensation Dave Koz, is already collecting radio playlist adds.  

After scratching a creative itch to croon jazz standards on his two most recent releases, “Sings with Strings” and the holiday-themed “Swingin’ in the Snow,” Braun had a very specific direction he wanted to pursue for “Can You Feel It” for which he wrote or co-wrote nine tunes along with helming the production.

“When I started working on this album, which was about a year in the making, there were two goals that I had in mind. I wanted it to be really organic and have a lot of my friends playing on it. Young players melding together with the old faithful,” explained Braun.

So he reached out to a bunch of his friends, colleagues and collaborators and dialed back the time machine twenty years ago to the era of his breakthrough disc, “Beat Street,” to help chart the course for “Can You Feel It.”  

“It’s a return to the sound and style of “Beat Street,” which essentially was a tribute to my years playing in War. I took out all of the sequencing with one exception and made the record like a garage band using great live players. It was a lot of fun making the record. It’s energetic and earthy. We hit it hard—kind of like Tower of Power—capturing the energetic, funky horn band sound. I wanted lots of horn section parts on the album.”

Braun added a new weapon to his arsenal: valve trombone. And he stacked the tracks with layers of horns section parts adding power, punch and potency. His friends were eager to join the festivities enabling Braun to toss the ball around the horn with Koz, Brian Culbertson, Philippe Saisse, Jeff Lorber, Euge Groove, Elliott Yamin and a retinue of ace players such as Frank “Third” Richardson, Nathaniel Kearney Jr., Randy Jacobs, Nate Phillips, Adam Hawley, Sergio Gonzalez, Brandon Fields, Tony Moore, Phil Davis, Ramon Islas and more. Bud Harner, who co-wrote the first single with Braun, helped shepherd the album as associate producer.   

A popular and dynamic performer who draws material for his set lists from his vast catalogue of No. 1 chart hits, radio playlist staples and fan favorites, Braun is touring nationally in support of “Can You Feel It” as a member of Jazz Attack with fellow contemporary jazz titans Peter White and Groove. Sprinkled in his concert calendar are dates with BWB, the all-star trio made up of Braun and Grammy winners Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. The Allentown, Pennsylvania native entered the professional ranks by co-writing a Top 20 pop hit for REO Speedwagon (“Here With Me”) before becoming a first-call sideman touring and recording with Rod Stewart, Sade, Tina Turner, Natalie Cole and Tom Petty. Braun released his solo debut, “Intimate Secrets,” in 1992, but it was the success of “Beat Street” that forced the horn man to choose between continuing as a sideman and taking center stage as an artist. The decision came easily and Braun has never looked back on the path to stardom.

The songs featured on “Can You Feel It” include:

“Can You Feel It”
“Back To Back”
“Take Me To The River”
“Get Up And Dance”
“Another Kind Of Blue”
“The Dream”
“Dr. Funkenstein”

Universal Intensifies Multicultural Commitment

Fabian Castro Promoted to Senior Vice President of Division
Vice President Talitha Watkins’ Contract Extended 

Universal Pictures today announced an intensified commitment to its multicultural marketing division by promoting Fabian Castro to oversee the department and extending Talitha Watkins’ contract.  Both executives have contributed materially to some of the studio’s recent slate of hits by developing and implementing culturally relevant outreaches that have made Universal an industry leader in multicultural marketing.   
Castro, who most recently served as vice president of multicultural marketing, will be elevated to senior vice president and will supervise the work of the multicultural division and its contributions to the films of Universal Pictures.  Watkins, who serves as vice president of multicultural marketing, has been with the department since its inception.  Under Castro’s leadership, the department is expanding their team and will escalate their presence on current and upcoming marketing campaigns to oversee a broader range of ethnic and specialty demographic groups.  The announcement was made by Universal’s co-president of marketing Michael Moses, to whom Castro reports.
Universal created the multicultural marketing group in 2010, hiring Castro to focus on Latino outreach and Watkins to concentrate on African American audiences.  Castro and Watkins work directly with the publicity, field, promotions, media, digital, creative, research and partnership divisions to customize existing and develop new strategies, marketing and outreach efforts.
“Watching Fabian grow has been one of the most exciting success stories I’ve seen in my time at Universal,” said Moses.  “Unlocking the Hispanic marketplace is a priority for every studio, and we’re proud of the gains we’ve made with Fabian’s guidance.  He has led us to implement innovative, effective campaigns that cross every marketing discipline and communicate to this segment of the audience in an authentic way.  We’re excited to deepen our commitment to multicultural marketing with the right resources to help Universal continue outpacing the pack.”
Moses added, “Talitha is a real star who’s gotten to shine with her contributions to making some of our recent films very big hits.  She is the kind of savvy marketer you want on your team.  Talitha has opened new opportunities for us to build a strong, sustainable foundation with a loyal segment of moviegoers.  With Universal’s continued commitment to building diverse slates of films, we’re happy and count ourselves lucky to have Talitha as a key strategist.” 
Castro, who has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and numerous national and regional media as an authority on marketing films to Latinos, was recently  profiled on 2013’s The Hollywood Reporter’s Next Generation list as one of the top 35 executives, ages 35 and under.  Also in 2013, Castro was featured on Variety’s Hollywood’s New Leaders list, as well as The Hollywood Reporter’s Top Young Latino Decision Maker’s list.  Castro’s innovative strategies and culturally relevant tactics have helped drive considerable Hispanic attendance and interest in Universal films including Guillermo del Toro’s surprise horror hit Mama, which had 46% Hispanic attendance when it debuted at No. 1 at the box office; Fast & Furious 6, which enjoyed a 32% Hispanic attendance during its $120 million opening weekend; Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2, which last summer pulled in 28% of its $150 million opening from Hispanics.  
Since joining Universal, Watkins has worked on more than 50 titles including the multicultural blockbusters Fast Five and Fast & Furious 6.  Her industry-leading efforts helped turn The Best Man Holiday ($70.5 million domestic) and Ride Along into breakout hits.  Ride Along had the largest January opening ever in 2014 and dominated the box office holding the No. 1 position for the first three weeks in release.  Watkins was recently featured in Essence Magazine’s 2014 Hollywood Hot List.
Prior to his time at Universal, Castro served as director of brand development for Hearst’s Food Network Magazine and spent eight years working for various Time Warner publications, including People en Español as their director, strategic marketing & promotions and Entertainment Weekly as their director, entertainment partnerships.  He also served as the chair of Hola@Time Inc., the Hispanic Affinity Group for Time Inc.  Castro holds a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 
Watkins came to Universal from Telepictures Productions Inc. where she served as assistant general manager responsible for overseeing operations, sales and marketing for five female-focused digital properties in the Warner Bros. portfolio including,,, and  Watkins served in several marketing positions with SiTV, the Latino and multicultural network; Gemstar-TV Guide; Lifetime Entertainment Services; and A&E Television Networks.  Watkins holds a B.B.A. in Marketing from Temple University.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Naturi Naughton and Lela Loren On A 'Power' Trip

 By Darlene Donloe

Power can be an aphrodisiac. The people at Starz, Executive Producer Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and show creator Courtney Kemp Agboh (The Good Wife) are banking on just that. 

Power will premiere at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz. The show is an original crime drama set in two different worlds - the glamorous New York club scene and the brutal drug trade.

The show centers around James “Ghost” St. Patrick (Omari Hardwick) who has it all: a beautiful wife, a Manhattan penthouse, and the hottest, up-and-coming new nightclub in New York. His club, Truth, caters to the elite: the famous and infamous boldface names that run the city that never sleeps. As its success grows, so does Ghost’s plans to build an empire.

However, Truth is really a front for Ghost’s criminal underworld; a lucrative drug network, serving only the wealthy and powerful.

As Ghost is seduced by the prospect of a legitimate life, everything precious to him becomes unknowingly threatened.

Power stars Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton, Lela Loren,  Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, La La Anthony, Enrique Murciano, Greg Serano, Kathrine Narducci, Andy Bean, Luis Antonio Ramos, Sinqua Walls, Lucy Walters, Adam Huss, and Joseph Sikora.

Naughton plays Tasha St. Patrick, the crafty, loving, fierce, and drop-dead gorgeous wife of Ghost.  She has been at his side for years, throughout his rise in the drug game.  She’s his partner in raising three children and an empire while providing the home life and stability he wants.  And in return, she enjoys the lavish lifestyle she seeks and the illusion of normal domesticity.  But as Ghost pursues the club, Tasha begins to realize that her fantasy life may be in jeopardy, and she asserts control over her own family and future.

Loren plays Angela, a woman whose career and advancement are her priorities. She is living the life she believes she should want.  She grew up with Ghost in a rough neighborhood, and she managed to escape using her intellect, ambition, and determination, but she never truly left her childhood behind.  Just as she’s assigned the biggest task of her career and on the cusp of achieving everything she’s worked for, Angela has a chance encounter with Ghost – or as she knows him, “Jamie” – her past love.

I recently caught up with Naughton (Mad Men) and Loren (Gang Related) to talk about their roles in the series.

Naturi Naughton

DD: This isn’t a pretty story. Describe the movie in your own words?

NN: It’s something innovative, provocative, something that pushes the envelope, creating a diverse cast. It’s a compelling story with great stories.

LL: It’s brash, sophisticated and sexy. It explores the reality of choice and identity and truth and the shifting sands of what we think is power.

DD: Talk to me about how you became involved with this show.

NN: My journey was basic. I was just a normal actress seeking it out. My agent sent me a great script. I love this script. I will never forget how nervous I was. My phone rang in the audition. I never do that. I forget my lines in the scene. But it was one of the best auditions. It allowed me to be vulnerable. It made me right for Tasha.

LL: I came to the show through regular way.  It was interesting. I went through two rounds of testing.

DD: What do you like about the show?

LL: I like the complexity of the characters. It’s unclear if Angela is a hero or a villain. She plays dirty for the right reason and dirty for the wrong reason. I like her unraveling. She is completely put together. She becomes progressively messier. As an actress that is fun. There are a lot of choices she makes that are morally ambiguous.    

NN: What I like about the show is there are so many elements. It shoots in New York, the coolest, artsy city in the nation. Plus, we have an amazing team. The writer, producer, 50 Cent, our cast members.  Omari (Hardwick) is my husband – on the show, not in real life. We’ve got a great story. It will show people how challenging it is to live a double life. The two worlds at play are the most exciting parts to me. The life we want to have and the life we do have. That’s provocative.

Lela Loren

DD: Where will you be when the show premieres?

LL: At my neighbors. If this was my friend’s show I’d be really enthusiastic. It’s nerve wrecking when it’s you.

NN: I’ll be with my closest friends. I’ll have them come over to my house and we’ll watch together.

DD: Do you have a problem watching yourself?

NN: I like to watch myself. I’m my own worst critic. I like to watch myself before other people watch me. I like any opportunity to watch the work I did. I’m a perfectionist and crazy person. I’m into myself. I’m able to see what I need to work on. I go through my process.

LL: I’ll only do it to learn and grow.

DD: You are two female actresses who are working. Is it luck? If so, how are you so lucky?  Is there a secret to this?

LL: It’s luck getting roles. You audition so many times and don’t get it. We’re not in control. The exciting thing is that I feel like there are more roles for women. They are getting better.

NN: I agree. In short, I would say the climate is getting better. Don’t know if there is a secret. I’ve been favored and blessed. A lot of roles I thought I was going to get. Like Lil Kim. I wasn’t thinking I was going to get the part. One secret is that it has to be written for you. God has a plan for me. You have to have perseverance and patience. I try to look at it as a spiritual aspect. Sometimes I stress myself out.

LL: I never thought I was going to make a living as an actress. I fell in love with and didn’t want to, but it dragged me kicking and screaming. I’ve seen a lot of people do what they want to do, but were unhappy. I could handle poverty better than I could handle being dead on the inside.

DD: Naturi, did you think you’d be an actress?

NN:  I kind of had this dream since I was five or six that I would be a singer and an actress. I expected that I was going to be a star. I expected, well, I hoped I would be doing something that could change the way someone feels. I wanted, through singing and acting, to change the emotions of people, change their perspective.  I really did. I genuinely thought that. I listened to Whitney (Houston) and Aretha (Franklin). I watched people who did interviews very well. I watched Angela Bassett in What’s Love Got To Do With It. I was always planning to be here. It didn’t work out perfectly, but I genuinely believed this was something I was supposed to be doing. I feel blessed.

Critics' Choice Television Awards Noms Announced

FX Leads with 19 Nominations

The Big Bang Theory, Fargo, The Good Wife, Masters of Sex and
The Normal Heart Score the Most Nominations with Five Each

 LOS ANGELES (May 28, 2014) – The Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) today announced nominations for the 4th annual Critics' Choice Television Awards, which will be broadcast live on The CW from the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Thu., June 19, 2014 (8 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT) and hosted by actor/comedian Cedric the Entertainer.  Cedric is currently the star, co-creator and executive producer of the hit comedy series The Soul Man on TV Land as well as one of the stars of The Original Kings of Comedy.

FX leads the networks in nominations with 19, followed closely by HBO which garnered 18.  Topping the list of nominated series are The Big Bang Theory (CBS), Fargo (FX), The Good Wife (CBS), Masters of Sex (Showtime) and The Normal Heart (HBO) with five nominations each.  Other top-nominated series include The Americans (FX), Breaking Bad (AMC), Orange Is the New Black (Netflix) and Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS), which each received four nominations.  Walton Goggins and Allison Janney were both nominated for their performances in two different shows. Goggins earned a Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series nomination for Justified, while Janney earned a Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series nomination for Mom. The two will compete against each other in the Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series category for Sons of Anarchy and Masters of Sex, respectively.

"As television journalists, BTJA members live and breathe TV, and we're excited to share our top picks from an immensely rich and diverse year of programming," said BTJA President Joey Berlin.  "2014 has been a successful year for cable and broadcast as well as content on platforms such as Netflix, and we look forward to celebrating all of these amazing shows and performances on June 19."

Nominations for the 4th annual Critics' Choice Television Awards include:

  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Broad City (Comedy Central)
  • Louie (FX)
  • Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Veep (HBO)

  • Louis CK, Louie (FX)
  • Chris Messina, The Mindy Project (FOX)
  • Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  • Robin Williams, The Crazy Ones (CBS)

  • Ilana Glazer, Broad City (Comedy Central)
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey, The Goldbergs (ABC)
  • Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central)
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (NBC)
  • Emmy Rossum, Shameless (Showtime)

  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)
  • Keith David, Enlisted (FOX)
    Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)
  • Albert Tsai, Trophy Wife (ABC)
  • Christopher Evan Welch, Silicon Valley (HBO)
  • Jeremy Allen White, Shameless (Showtime)

  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)
  • Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

  • Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
  • Sarah Baker, Louie (FX)
  • James Earl Jones, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
  • Mimi Kennedy, Mom (CBS)
  • Andrew Rannells, Girls (HBO)
  • Lauren Weedman, Looking (HBO)

  • The Americans (FX)
  • Breaking Bad (AMC)
  • Game of Thrones (HBO)
  • The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Masters of Sex (Showtime)
  • True Detective (HBO)

  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)
  • Hugh Dancy, Hannibal (NBC)
  • Freddie Highmore, Bates Motel (A&E)
  • Matthew McConaughey, True Detective (HBO)
  • Matthew Rhys, The Americans (FX)
  • Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex (Showtime)

  • Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex (Showtime)
  • Vera Farmiga, Bates Motel (A&E)
  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black (BBC America)
  • Keri Russell, The Americans (FX)
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)

  • Josh Charles, The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Walton Goggins, Justified (FX)
  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)
  • Peter Sarsgaard, The Killing (AMC)
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan (Showtime)
  • Jeffrey Wright, Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

  • Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (AMC)
  • Annet Mahendru, The Americans (FX)
  • Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead (AMC)
  • Maggie Siff, Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  • Bellamy Young, Scandal (ABC)

  • Beau Bridges, Masters of Sex (Showtime)
  • Walton Goggins, Sons of Anarchy (FX)
  • Allison Janney, Masters of Sex (Showtime)
  • Joe Morton, Scandal (ABC)
  • Carrie Preston, The Good Wife (CBS)
  • Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones (HBO)

  • An Adventure in Space and Time (BBC America)
  • Burton and Taylor (BBC America)
  • Killing Kennedy (National Geographic Channel)
  • The Normal Heart (HBO)
  • Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)
  • The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)

  • American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
  • Bonnie & Clyde (A&E/History/Lifetime)
  • Dancing on the Edge (Starz)
  • Fargo (FX)
  • The Hollow Crown (PBS)
  • Luther (BBC America)

  • David Bradley, An Adventure in Space and Time (BBC America)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge (Starz)
  • Martin Freeman, Fargo (FX)
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart (HBO)
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo (FX)

  • Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor (BBC America)
  • Minnie Driver, Return to Zero (Lifetime)
  • Whoopi Goldberg, A Day Late and a Dollar Short (Lifetime)
  • Holliday Grainger, Bonnie & Clyde (A&E/History/Lifetime)
  • Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
  • Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)

  • Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart (HBO)
  • Warren Brown, Luther (BBC America)
  • Martin Freeman, Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)
  • Colin Hanks, Fargo (FX)
  • Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart (HBO)
  • Blair Underwood, The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)

  • Amanda Abbington, Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)
  • Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)
  • Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic (Lifetime)
  • Jessica Raine, An Adventure in Space and Time (BBC America)
  • Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart (HBO)
  • Allison Tolman, Fargo (FX)

  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (FOX/National Geographic Channel)
  • Deadliest Catch (Discovery)
  • Duck Dynasty (A&E)
  • Mythbusters (Discovery)
  • Top Gear (BBC America)
  • Undercover Boss (CBS)

  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
  • Project Runway (Lifetime)
  • Shark Tank (ABC)
  • Survivor (CBS)
  • Top Chef (Bravo)
  • The Voice (NBC)

  • Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars (ABC)
  • Carson Daly, The Voice (NBC)
  • Cat Deeley, So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)
  • Gordon Ramsay, MasterChef (FOX)
  • RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag Race (Logo)
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (FOX/National Geographic Channel)

  • Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show (Time Telepictures)
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
  • Conan (TBS)

  • Archer (FX)
  • Bob's Burgers (FOX)
  • The Simpsons (FOX)
  • Family Guy (FOX)
  • Phineas and Ferb (Disney XD)
  • Adventure Time (Cartoon Network)

The Critics' Choice Television Awards will honor programs and performances that aired between June 1, 2013 and May 31, 2014.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Film Independent Announces LAFF's 'Coffee Talks'


Film Independent & The Blackhouse Foundation Unveil
Diversity Speaks Panels
Inaugural Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award Given To
Lisa Cholodenko
LOS ANGELES (May 27, 2014) – Today the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and host partner L.A. LIVE, announced its annual Sunday ‘Coffee Talks’ programming for June 15.  The four talks will take place over the course of one day and feature Directors, Actors, Composers and Screenwriters, including Demian Bichir (The Heat, A Better Life), Alfred Molina (An Education, Spider-Man 2), Olivia Munn (The Newsroom, Magic Mike), Mark Isham (42, A River Runs Through It), John Ottman (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Usual Suspects), Aaron Zigman (The Other Woman, Sex and the City), Susannah Grant (The Soloist, Erin Brockovich), Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Seventh Son), Ed Solomon (Now You See Me, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure) and more. Scheduled for June 14 are the Diversity Speaks Panels, which bring together network executives, independent filmmakers, rising Internet sensations and aspiring artists to discuss an array of topics in an effort to further promote inclusivity in the industry. The inaugural Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award conferred to Festival Guest Director Lisa Cholodenko. For more information on general ticketing/programming, please visit

“Maria Bozzi and her team have once again done an amazing job bringing together some of the best crafts people in Los Angeles for our ‘Coffee Talks’ programming, “ said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director. “We are also thrilled to be embarking on a relationship with Jaeger-LeCoultre for the inaugural Glory to the Filmmaker Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival. They have shown outstanding taste in selecting Lisa Cholodenko as this year’s recipient. We look forward to a long collaboration for many years to come championing innovative filmmakers.”

Maria Raquel Bozzi, Senior Director of Education at Film Independent adds, “If you’ve ever wanted to eavesdrop on conversations between some of the most talented artists in our city, the ‘Coffee Talks’ are your chance.  Over the years, this signature program has gathered the brightest minds in our industry to talk freely with their peers about their craft, careers and everything in between."

On Sunday June 15 the Los Angeles Film Festival will hold its annual Sunday “Coffee Talks”. The Festival’s popular series returns with four sessions featuring some of today’s most interesting film figures discussing their craft with their peers in fun and freewheeling conversations:

            Sponsored by Directors Guild of America
            11:00 am – 12:00 pm
            Panelists TBA

            Sponsored by SAGindie
            1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
            Panelists include: Demian Bichir (The Heat, A Better Life), Alfred Molina (An Education, Spider-Man 2), Olivia Munn (The Newsroom, Magic Mike), other        panelists TBA.
            Sponsored by BMI
            3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Panelists include: Mark Isham (42, A River Runs Through It), John Ottman (X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Usual Suspects), Aaron Zigman (The Other Woman,Sex and the City). The panel is moderated by Doreen Ringer Ross (BMI)

            Sponsored by Writers Guild of America, West
            5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
            Panelists include: Max Borenstein (Godzilla, Seventh Son), Susannah Grant (The Soloist, Erin Brockovich), Ed Solomon (Now You See Me, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), other panelists TBA.
At the Diversity Speaks panels, taking place on June 14 at The Conga Room at L.A. LIVE, content creators of color who embody innovation will discuss how they manage to combine their passions for storytelling, entrepreneurship and their cultural identities into success stories.  Panels include A Singleton Perspective, a conversation with Oscar® nominated filmmaker/producer John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, Shaft, Four Brothers, 2 Fast 2 Furious) on his career and the state of film today. This event will be moderated by Elvis Mitchell, Curator, Film Independent at LACMA and Guest Curator of LA Muse. Cine-Sounds is a music video showcase that highlights innovative filmmakers and artists of color who are pushing the boundaries of storytelling through their collaborations. Panelists include Tyler The Creator and Luis Perez, with additional panelists to be announced. Rounding out the day’s programming is Leveling The Playing Field, a panel featuring a group of this year’s Festival Filmmakers and Film Independent Fellows sharing their experiences launching their films and careers with the support of Film Independent and other like-minded media arts organizations that offer resources for emerging filmmakers.  All of the Diversity Speaks panels are free and open to the public. Diversity Speaks is supported by Yvonne Huff and Jason Delane. 

For the first time at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Jaeger-LeCoultre will pay tribute to the creative ingenuity of filmmakers by conferring the Jaeger-LeCoutlre Glory to the Filmmaker Award to a personality who has brought great innovation to contemporary cinema. This year’s recipient is filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko, the Festival’s Guest Director. At the Venice International Film Festival, the list of past recipients includes Takeshi Kitano (2007), Abbas Kiarostami (2008), Agnès Varda (2008), Sylvester Stallone (2009), Mani Ratnam (2010), Al Pacino (2011), Spike Lee (2012), followed in 2013 by Ettore Scola. This year marks the first time the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award has been given to a filmmaker at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Passes are currently on sale to Film Independent members and the general public. In addition to screenings and events, Festival passes provide access to a series of networking receptions and entry to the Festival Lounge, where Festival pass holders can interact with Festival filmmakers and professionals in the film community.  General admission tickets to individual films go on sale beginning today, May 20.  Contact the Ticket Office for passes, tickets and event information by calling 866.FILM.FEST (866.345.6337) or visit

For the ninth year, the Los Angeles Times will serve as the Festival’s Presenting Media Sponsor and will produce the Festival Guide, the comprehensive source for all movie info, screenings, locations and related special events. The Festival Guide will top the paper on Sunday, June 8 in Los Angeles and Orange County, and will be made available throughout downtown Los Angeles during the nine-day event.


·         Diversity Speaks Panels – June 14
·         “Coffee Talks” Directors/Actors/Screenwriters/Composers – June 15

Now in its 20th year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, showcases diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision in new American and international cinema, and provides the movie-loving public with one-of-a-kind events featuring critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The Festival’s signature programs include the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film at The GRAMMY Museum®, Celebrating Women Filmmakers, Master Classes, Spirit of Independence Award, LA Muse and more. 

Over 200 features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 40 countries, make up the main body of the Festival.  The Festival also screens short films created by high school students and a special section devoted to music videos. The Festival hosts juried cash awards for best narrative and documentary features, best narrative, documentary and animated short film, and a jury award for best performance in the narrative competition. Audience awards are presented to best documentary, narrative and international feature, short film and music video. The Los Angeles Film Festival is presented in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times. The Official Host Venue is Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14. Subaru is the Official Automotive Sponsor. Relativity is a Principal Sponsor. Platinum Sponsors include HBO, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Stella Artois Dolby Laboratories, Inc., Canon U.S.A., Inc. and EFILM. The University Sponsor is Loyola Marymount University's School of Film and Television. Renwood Winery is the Official Wine Provider. Tanqueray is the Official Gin Provider. The Los Angeles Athletic Club is the Official Host Hotel. WireImage is the Official Photography Agency and PR Newswire is the Official Breaking News Service of Film Independent. More information can be found at

Film Independent is a non-profit arts organization that champions independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision. Film Independent helps filmmakers make their movies, builds an audience for their projects and works to diversify the film industry. Film Independent’s Board of Directors, filmmakers, staff and constituents, is comprised of an inclusive community of individuals across ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race and sexual orientation. Anyone passionate about film can become a member, whether you are a filmmaker, industry professional or a film lover. Film Independent produces the Spirit Awards, the annual celebration honoring artist-driven films and recognizing the finest achievements of American independent filmmakers. Film Independent also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival, showcasing the best of American and international cinema and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series, a year-round, weekly program that offers unique cinematic experiences for the Los Angeles creative community and the general public.

With over 250 annual screenings and events, Film Independent provides access to a network of like-minded artists who are driving creativity in the film industry. Film Independent’s Artist Development program offers free Labs for selected writers, directors, producers and documentary filmmakers and presents year-round networking opportunities. Project Involve is Film Independent’s signature program dedicated to fostering the careers of talented filmmakers from communities traditionally underrepresented in the film industry. For more information or to become a member, visit

'The Sacrament' Takes Eerie Look Inside Cult

Gene Jones, AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg in THE SACRAMENT, 
a Magnet Release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

By Darlene Donloe

The Sacrament has the distinction of being one of the most disturbing films of the year.

Filmed as a straightforward documentary done using a guerrilla filmmaking technique, it’s eerie and frighteningly real.  Not quite sure if that’s good or bad, but, the fact that it was shot as a documentary lends authenticity to the project. Many times throughout the film, the filmmakers within the film look into the camera to plead their case.  Other times they hold the camera as they pan an audience or walk. The jumpiness and constant shaky camera affect left this reviewer nauseous, much like the 1999 groundbreaking, The Blair Witch Project.

This film is not as scary as The Blair Witch Project, but it leaves the viewer uncomfortable and wondering just what they can expect in the next frame.  You simply can’t take your eyes off of the screen.

Religious fanaticism, insecurity, familial love, finding the truth, and trying to find one’s purpose in life are what give this film its edge. It seems everyone is looking for purpose. When someone finds it in someone who, themselves, are subject to questionable practices, the film shows how quickly things can go from bad to worse. 

Amy Seimetz in THE SACRAMENT, a Magnet Release. 
Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing. 

The Sacrament, which opens June 6, could be placed in the horror film genre as it follows two journalists as they set out to document their friend's journey to find his missing sister. The friend finally tracks down his sister at a place called "Eden Parish," a self-sustained utopia. At the center of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as "Father" (Gene Jones).  As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise has some problems.  It’s not what it seems. What began as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a race to escape with their lives.

This simple story becomes a compelling story.  Labeling it a horror film does the film an injustice. It's also a very unpredictable and pertinent cautionary tale.

The story, of course, is inspired by the true story of Jim Jones, his followers and Jonestown.

James Warren "Jim" Jones was an American religious leader, communist and community organizer. But, he was best known for being the founder and the leader of the Peoples Temple and even better known for the mass suicide in November 1978 of 909 of the Temple’s members in Jonestown, Guyana, and the murder of five individuals at a nearby airstrip, including Congressman Leo Ryan.

More than 300 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of them by cyanide poisoning.

AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg in THE SACRAMENT, a Magnet Release. 
Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

A number of children also die in The Sacrament. This is a hard film to watch for various reasons, all of which can’t be divulged without providing a spoiler alert.

Ti West, director of THE SACRAMENT, a Magnet Release. 
Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing. 

Director Ti West said his goal, “was to create an elevated genre film that examines the last days in the life of a religious cult. It is rare to find films like these that are more than just cheap thrills aimed at the lowest common denominator. It was important to me not to portray these characters as mindless, psychotic cult members, but as relatable real people who, for many reasons, chose an alternative, and controversial path for their lives. I hope to have created a film that is both scary and socially relevant, one that provokes an audience to think deeply about its content.”

Goal achieved!!
There are good performances in this film. All of the actors provide a sense of realism. Gene Jones (No Country For Old Men, Boardwalk Empire) is exceptional as ‘Father.’

The Sacrament is written and directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil) and stars Amy Seimetz, AJ Bowen, Gene Jones, Joe Swanberg and Kentucker Audley.

The Sacrament, (Magnolia) is 1 hr. 40 min.  It's Rated R: for disturbing violent content including bloody images, language and brief drug use.

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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Otis Williams Talks About The Temptations

 The Temptations
(l-r) Ron Tyson, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon, 
Otis Williams (right, foreground) and Bruce Williamson

By Darlene Donloe

In 1961, when Otis Williams was just beginning his career as one of Motown’s tempting Temptations, he says he had ‘no idea’ that the group would last very long. All they wanted to do was ‘make money, have hits and have the girls like us.’

Fast-forward, 53 years later and Williams, one of the founding members of the group, is still keeping the music, tradition and legacy of The Temptations alive.  He’s still making money, singing the hits, doing the Temptation walk and wearing those classic suits. And, of course the girls still like them. The group has new fans and old fans. Williams still enjoys the music and never tires of being on stage.

"Our challenge," says Williams, "is to live in the present while respecting the past. Our past is filled with riches only a fool would discard. At the same time, we thrive on competition. As a Motowner, I grew up in the most competitive musical atmosphere imaginable. But we also understand that for a group with history, no matter how glorious that history might be, reinvention is the name of the game.  When I tell people we are God's group, I don't mean it arrogantly. It's just that we have been tested time and time again and keep coming back. We have suffered the deaths of so many legendary singers ... Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin.  Others like Dennis Edwards, Richard Street, Ali-Ollie Woodson and Theo Peoples have left, and yet our unity is tighter, our sound brighter and our popularity greater. Someone has watched over this group. Someone has protected our integrity. Someone has said...just go on singing and it'll get better."

The original Temptations 
(l-r) Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin and David Ruffin

The Temptations’ discography is vast. It includes hits like: My Girl, Since I Lost My Baby, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, Way You Do the Things You Do, Get Ready, I Wish It Would Rain, Cloud Nine, Runaway Child, Running Wild; I Can’t Get Next To You, Psychedelic Shack, Ball of Confusion, Just My Imagination, Superstar, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Treat Her Like A Lady, Stay, Lady and more.

Today Williams, 72, is the father of one, the grandfather of three and recently moved into a new home in Los Angeles.

He says he likes being a grandfather because, ‘I can play with them and then give them back.  Then I can chill.’

I caught up with the legendary singer to talk about The Temptations’ upcoming one night only show, Sat., June 7, at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center. It will be the final performance in the Center’s inaugural season.

DD:  The Temps will be performing at the Arcadia Performing Arts Center ( for one night only!  What can fans expect?

OW: They can expect The Temps to be The Temps. They should know we will do as many of our songs as we can. We will be the traditional Temps. We’ll sing, Just My Imagination, My Girl, Treat Her Like a Lady. We’ll be in Temptation form. It’ll take about 75 minutes to do that.

DD: How do you prepare for a show?

OW: We just go and do it. It’s second nature. We are mentally and physically ready and prepared.  We have to dance every night. We go out with the mindset of giving our fans the best show we can give.

DD: Do The Temps have a ritual before going on stage?

OW: Yes, we pray to God for letting us come together. We bow our heads with everyone and pray.

DD: How has a Temps show changed over the years?

OW: The one ting that is constant is change. But we don’t stray too far from what we’re known for. You’ll never see us come out with our pants down and showing our underwear, or grabbing our crouches or cussing. We’ll stay classy. We were taught that.

The Temptations
(l-r) Bruce Williamson (sitting), Terry Weeks (sitting),
 Otis Williams, Ron Tyson and Joe Herndon

DD: Has your audience changed over the years?

OW:  they have grown up with The Temps. Our audiences are as young as five and as old as 80 or 90.

DD: Does it seem like 53 years?

OW: Yes! When I stop and think back, it is what it is.  It doesn’t seem like yesterday. I thank God for letting us change and be around 54 years later. We had no idea we would be doing this. We just wanted to make money, have hits and have the girls like us. We made it a vocation instead of an avocation.

DD: When I say Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin what comes to your mind?

OW: The greatest lineup ever! I’m walking around in my home. I have a wall with all of the original Temps. Those were some great guys.

DD: You are the lone remaining original Temp. How does that affect you?

OW: I take it all in positive stride. I don’t think about it. The other four are no longer here. I’m sad they are no longer here. I talk to the man upstairs quite often. Why am I still here? I learned something about myself. I wasn’t a saint. I saw a lot of craziness. I’ve had self-discipline. I have to govern myself. Health is first. I try to take care of myself.

DD: We’re all familiar with Ron Tyson. Talk about the new guys, Terry Weeks, Joe Herndon and Bruce Williamson.

OW: They are just fantastic performers. They are carrying on the legacy. They all knew what they had to do. Ron Tyson has been in the group for 30 years. They are all showmen and performers in their own right.

DD: When looking for someone to join the group, what do you look for?

OW: I don’t look for talent first. You can have all the talent in the world. I look for head and heart. If you are an asshole, you will negate that talent. This is a business. I’m looking to see whether you can take direction. Can you be on time?  Talent comes second.

DD: In the press release you say, "Today we have three of the greatest leads in the proud history of the group."    Describe your own voice.

OW: Mine is versatile. I can sing baritone, first tenor and lead.  Some say I’m the glue that holds it all together. I used to sing second tenor.

DD: What is your favorite Temptations song of all time?

OW: It has to be My Girl. I believe most men from the womb to the tomb would like to say, ‘hey, that’s my girl.’ That’s universal.  

DD: What is your all time best memory of being a Temp?

OW: Breaking records at the Copa Cabana, playing the Apollo Theater, doing Ed Sullivan 13 times, having our own special, the mini-series, five Grammys, going to the White House. I can’t single one out.

DD: How many presidents has the group met?

OW: Presidents Obama, Clinton, Nixon and George W. Bush.

DD: Are you comfortable with the word ‘legends’ as it refers to The Temps?

OW: Yes I am because that’s what we are. Whether we intended that or not, we are. It’s not the worst thing to be called.

DD: What is it about The Temps that keeps fans wanting more?

OW: It was arts development. We went to school to be in show business. It’s the way we present ourselves.
That’s entertainment – that’s what I want them to think.

DD:  How many shows do The Temps do in a year?

OW: We stay pretty busy. We just got back from Europe.

DD: I know it’s been a number of years, but describe the first time you heard a Temps song on the radio.

OW: We still lived in Detroit. Motown was becoming very popular. It was a joyous feeling.  You never tire of it. I screamed. The little girl in us came out.

DD: You’ve got to settle something. For years people have been debating whether in the song, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, the line ‘All he left us was’ what? Is it ‘alone’ as in by ourselves or is it ‘a loan’ as in debt?

OW: It’s ‘alone’ as in by yourself.

DD:  Your thoughts on today’s music?

OW: I’m not impressed with today’s music.  The FCC really relaxed their laws. They are cussing all over. Bitch bring my money. When we started, we couldn’t say, damn.
The music back in the day had great melodies. The lyrics were non-offensive, you didn’t mind your kids listening to it. Where is the melody today and the lyrics are atrocious. 

DD: Who do you like?

OW: I like John Legend and Bruno Mars. There are a few.

DD: Who do you regularly listen to?

OW: When I’m in my truck, I listen to CDs. I don’t really turn on the radio.  We have become a decadent society. Damn morality. There is nothing sacred anymore.

D: The Temps know how to dress. Since the 60s, the group has been sharp as a tack. Have you kept any of them?  Where are they?

OW:  I don’t keep those. They are in storage. Some are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
DD: Any thoughts about retirement?

OW: I’m going to ride the horse bald.

The Temptations, Arcadia Performing Arts Center, 188 Campus Drive at North Santa Anita Avenue, Arcadia CA 91007. Tickets: $59.50 - $99.50 For information: 626-821-1781;