Thursday, November 27, 2014

AFFRM and BLACKOUT Offer Film Series As An Alternative To Shopping On Black Friday

The African American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM) in partnership with BLACKOUT for Human Rights are asking everyone to refrain from shopping on Black Friday. The two organizations will present a Los Angeles film series at the Downtown Independent, 251 S. main Street, Los Angeles.  It’s free to the public.  The films in the series include: (3 p.m.) FRUITVALE STATION (2013 Sundance Grand Jury Winner), (5 p.m.) MIDDLE OF NOWHERE (2012 Sundance Best Director Winner) and (7 p.m.) 25 TO LIFE (2014 American Black Film Festival Grand Jury Winner).
Film screenings and community conversations are held in support of Ferguson protests as an alternative to Black Friday shopping. It will be moderated by award winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (SELMA).

Founded in 2011 by award winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay, AFFRM is a
distribution collective of black arts organizations dedicated to quality black
independent films. 

BLACKOUT is a nationwide network of high profile artists, activists and faith leaders, who stand against human rights violations perpetrated against U.S. citizens by public servants. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

'Annie' In Theaters Nationwide December 19

This winter, Academy Award nominated Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) returns to the big screen as America’s most adorable and inspiring orphan in the remake of the 1984 classic, Annie. In a performance that is sure to leave us all amazed, Annie sings and dances her way into our hearts just in time for the holiday season. Quvenzhane graced the stage last night on Dancing With the Stars Fall 2014 Season Finale and gave America a sneak peek of what to expect in theaters, singing and dancing to the film classic “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Catch the magic below! 

  ANNIE is in theaters December 19th!

'Luna Gale' Set To Open At Kirk Douglas Theatre

 L-R: Mary Beth Fisher, Richard Thieriot and Erik Hellman in the Goodman Theatre world premiere production of Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale.” Directed by Robert Falls, “Luna Gale” is presented by Center Theatre Group at the Kirk Douglas Theatre November 23 through December 21, 2014. Tickets are available by calling (213) 628-2772. Contact: 972-7376.  Photos by Craig Schwartz

The Goodman Theatre’s world premiere production of Rebecca Gilman’s “Luna Gale,” directed by Robert Falls, opens Tuesday, December 2 at 8 p.m. at the Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre.  The production continues through December 21, 2014.
            The cast, who originated their roles in Chicago, includes Jordan Baker, Reyna de Courcy, Melissa DuPrey, Mary Beth Fisher, Erik Hellman, Colin Sphar and Richard Thieriot.
            Gilman, whose “work reaches the heart and head with equal force,” according to Time magazine, explores with profound humanity the issues of faith, family and one child’s uncertain future.
            A veteran social worker, Caroline, thinks she has a typical case on her hands when she meets Peter and Karlie, two teenage drug addicts accused of neglecting their baby, Luna Gale. But when Caroline places their daughter in the care of Karlie’s very religious mother, she sparks a family conflict that exposes a shadowy past and forces her to make a risky decision with potentially life-altering consequences. 
            Set design for “Luna Gale” is by Todd Rosenthal, costumes by Kaye Voce, lighting by Robert Wierzel and original music and sound design by Richard Woodbury.  The production stage manager is Kirsten Parker.  

87th Oscars® Production Team Announced

LOS ANGELES, CA – Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron today announced 13 key members of the production team for the 87th Academy Awards®, which will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 22, 2015, on ABC. 
Director Hamish Hamilton returns to the show for the third time, after receiving an Emmy® nomination for his work on last year’s telecast.  He made his Oscar debut with the 82nd Academy Awards telecast in 2010.  Hamilton has directed many other celebrated live televised events, including the 2014 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Bruno Mars, the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Beyoncé, the 2013 “MTV Video Music Awards” and the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, for which he also received an Emmy nomination.  He shared a 2011 Peabody Award for the fifth annual “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” and a 2003 Grammy Award® nomination for the musical special “Robbie Williams – Live at the Albert.”

Production designer Derek McLane has been part of both Oscar shows that Zadan and Meron have produced.  He won a 2014 Emmy for his production design of the 86th Academy Awards, and earned a nomination in the same category the previous year.  McLane also has designed sets for numerous acclaimed Broadway and Off-Broadway shows; he has received four Tony Award® nominations and won the award in 2009 for his work on “33 Variations.”  McLane’s designs can currently be seen in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.”  His other Broadway credits include “The Heiress,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man,” “Follies,” “Anything Goes,” “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Grease” and “I Am My Own Wife.”  McLane’s television credits include “The Sound of Music Live!” which was executive produced by Zadan and Meron.

Choreographer Rob Ashford has worked on the last two Oscar telecasts as well as the 81st Academy Awards show, for which he won an Emmy.  He was recently nominated for a Directors Guild Award for his work on “The Sound of Music Live!”  Ashford has been nominated for eight Tony Awards® and won for Best Choreography in 2002 for “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”  His other Broadway choreography credits include “The Wedding Singer,” “Curtains,” “Cry-Baby,” “Evita” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”  He also has served as choreographer on such feature films as “A Million Ways to Die in the West” and “Cinderella,” due out next year.

Writer, producer and director Greg Berlanti joins the team as head writer for his first Oscars telecast.  Berlanti’s writing credits include the television series “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Everwood” and “Dawson’s Creek,” and the feature films “Wrath of the Titans” and “Green Lantern.”  Berlanti also has executive produced such series as “The Mysteries of Laura” and “Brothers & Sisters” as well as the miniseries “Political Animals,” for which he received an Emmy nomination.  His directing credits include the 2010 film “Life as We Know It.”

Zadan and Meron have brought in Michael Green, Seth Grahame-Smith and Andrew Kreisberg to complete the writing staff.  Green is a writer and producer whose writing credits include the feature film “Green Lantern” and the television series “Everwood” and “Heroes.”  Grahame-Smith is a writer and producer known for his work on the television series “The Hard Times of RJ Berger” and such films as “Dark Shadows” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”  Kreisberg, a longtime writer and producer, has written episodes of “The Simpsons,” “Boston Legal,” “Fringe,” “Arrow” and “The Flash.”

Music director Stephen Oremus makes his Oscar debut this year.  A music director and Tony Award-winning orchestrator, he has worked on Broadway shows including “Avenue Q,” “Wicked,” “All Shook Up,” “9 to 5,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Kinky Boots.”  The latter two shows, which are still running, earned him 2011 and 2013 Tony Awards for Best Orchestration.  Oremus also served as the orchestra conductor and music director for Rufus Wainwright’s Carnegie Hall and London Palladium tributes to Judy Garland in 2006 and 2007.  He did his first feature film work on 2011’s “Shame,” arranging and producing “New York, New York,” which was sung by actress Carey Mulligan.

Costume designer Julie Weiss returns to the show after working on the 85th and 86th Academy Awards.  Weiss has designed costumes for more than 40 feature films, and received Oscar nominations for her work on “12 Monkeys” and “Frida.”  Her other feature credits include “Steel Magnolias,” “Searching for Bobby Fischer” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “A Simple Plan,” “American Beauty,” “Auto Focus,” “Bobby,” “Blades of Glory” and “Hitchcock.”  Weiss earned Emmys for her work on the TV movie “The Dollmaker” and the miniseries “A Woman of Independent Means.”  Her Broadway credits include “The Elephant Man,” for which she earned a Tony nomination, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “Ann.”  In 2011 she received the Costume Designers Guild Career Achievement in Film and Television Award.

Talent producer Taryn Hurd joins the Oscar telecast team for the second consecutive year.  Hurd has served as talent producer on events including the FOX network’s “New Year’s Eve Live,” the Breeders’ Cup telecast, “Teen Choice 2013” and “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops.”  She also has served as talent producer on the FOX series “So You Think You Can Dance” and ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”  Previously, Hurd amassed numerous credits as talent executive on broadcasts such as “The ESPYS,” the “Billboard Music Awards” and the “Critics’ Choice Awards.”  She also was the talent producer for the Academy’s 6th Annual Governors Awards.

Also rejoining the production team are supervising producer Michael Seligman, co-producer Lee Lodge and lighting designer Robert Dickinson.  Seligman has more than 300 major television events to his credit and has earned 12 Emmy nominations, including 10 for his work on Oscar telecasts.  Seligman’s other producing credits include “The American Giving Awards,” “America Celebrates July 4th at Ford’s Theatre,” “Stand Up to Cancer” and “Return to the Titanic…Live!”

Lodge served as co-producer on last year’s Oscar telecast and screens producer on the previous five.  His credits also include co-executive producer on the “MTV Video Music Awards” in 2012, 2013 and 2014, creative producer on the “CMA Awards” since 2010, and screens producer on the “Billboard Music Awards” since 2011.

Winner of 18 Primetime Emmys, lighting designer Dickinson has worked on 25 Oscar broadcasts, including the 86th Academy Awards earlier this year.  His numerous other credits include the “Kennedy Center Honors,” “Grammy Awards,” “Emmy Awards,” “Tony Awards,” “American Music Awards,” Olympic ceremonies in Atlanta, Salt Lake and Athens, and the television broadcasts “The Sound of Music Live!” and “The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.”

The 87th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.  The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

# # #

87th Oscars Social Media Guide
Follow the Academy, Oscars producers and host Neil Patrick Harris for the latest updates throughout Oscar season.
Neil Patrick Harris:
Oscars Producers
Neil Meron:
Craig Zadan
Google +:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" On Fire

By Darlene Donloe

“Fire is catching. If we burn, you burn with us.” ---Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen is back in action in one the year’s most anticipated films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

The first Hunger Games film generated nearly $700 million at the worldwide box office. The second film in the franchise, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, was the #1 domestic film of 2013 and the 10th highest-grossing North American release of all time, grossing over $860 million around the world and bringing the combined global box office of the first two films to over $1.5 billion.

In the last Hunger Games installment, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) literally shattered the games forever.  In the latest film she is back in District 13.

Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation, which continues to hold her in high esteem.  Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) is Coin’s key strategist.

Part of the strategy is for Katniss to become to face of the revolution by making a series of PSAs. The sequences showing Katniss in the process of making the public service announcements bring some levity to the dark drama.

The story begins again as Katniss has just been rescued from the destruction of the Quarter Quell. She awakens in a shocking world she didn’t even know existed: the dark underground of a supposed annihilated District 13.  Unfortunately she soon learns that District 12 has been destroyed and that Peeta is being held, manipulated and brainwashed by President Snow in The Capitol.

This time around there are no actual games. There is still some action. There are moments of bang, bang, shoot ‘em up, but nothing the caliber of the first two installments.
That means this film has to rely on the story and the performances.  There are moments that drag, but the film is still full of energy. 

Strong performances buoy the film. The ending, of course, is designed to make the audience drool in anticipation.

Whether or not it was a good decision to split the final chapter in two will not be known until the next installment.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 gets an O (oh, yeah).

Running time: 123 minutes; Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.

The 2014 American Music Awards® Winners

The 2014 American Music Awards®, hosted by Pitbull, was broadcast tonight on ABC. 
Following is a list of winners.
Single of the Year
Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J – Dark Horse

Artist of the Year
One Direction

New Artist of the Year
5 Seconds of Summer

Dick Clark Award for Excellent
Taylor Swift

Favorite Male Artist – Pop/Rock
Sam Smith

Favorite Female Artist – Pop/Rock
Katy Perry

One Direction

Favorite Band, Duo or Group – Pop/Rock
One Direction

Favorite Album – Pop/Rock
One Direction – Midnight Memories

Favorite Male Artist – Country
Luke Bryan

Favorite Female Artist - Country
Carrie Underwood

Favorite Band, Duo or Group – Country
Florida Georgia Line

Favorite Album – Country
Brantley Gilbert – Just As I Am

Favorite Artist – Rap/Hip-Hop
Iggy Azalea

Favorite Album – Rap/Hip-Hop
Iggy Azalea – The New Classic

John Legend

Favorite Male Artist – Soul/R&B
John Legend

Favorite Female Artist – Soul/R&B

Favorite Album – Soul/R&B
Beyoncé – Beyoncé

Favorite Artist – Alternative Rock
Imagine Dragons

Favorite Artist – Adult Contemporary
Katy Perry

Favorite Artist – Latin
Enrique Iglesias

Favorite Artist – Contemporary Inspirational
Casting Crowns

Favorite Artist – Electronic Dance Music (EDM)
Calvin Harris

Top Soundtrack

'All Relative' Has Family-Relationship Flaws

By Darlene Donloe

What are the odds?  Really, what are the odds? J.C. Khoury’s second feature film, All Relative, has an interesting premise, but not one that many are likely to believe.

The drama/comedy is all about relationships and how some of them are fragile, some are doomed, some are meant to be and some should never happen.

What do you do when a relationship that shouldn’t happen – does happen?  Suffice it to say there is a lot of tension, angst and work to do. The phrase, “I’m sorry” is frequently bantered about.

All Relative, written and directed by J.C. Khoury, is both a dysfunctional family comedy and a romantic comedy that touches on all the themes of modern dating and what happens when family life and romantic life collide. The story is based on Khoury’s own experiences dating in New York City. 

Jonathan Sadowski and Connie Nielsen

The story is about love, honesty, trust and family and what it means to be hurt by the very people who are supposed to love and protect you.

Harry is getting over a breakup. While bowling, his friend, Jared (Al Thompson) encourages him to talk to a pretty girl in another lane. 

Sara Paxton and Jonathan Sadowski

Sparks immediately fly at the bowling alley when Harry (Jonathan Sadowski), a graduate student in New York City, meets Grace (Sara Paxton). However, Grace, admittedly, is seeing someone, so Harry is relegated to the end of the line. The same day he meets Grace, at a bar he meets Maren, a seductive 40-something woman who is vague about her marital status, but does reveal she’s a mom of three (Connie Nielsen). Dating hasn’t been on Harry’s radar for a while. He’s still getting over the pain of splitting with his former fiancee after she cheated on him. He, admittedly, hasn’t had sex in a year. However, Maren is a sexy woman and Harry is, after all, a man. The two have sex that night, but agree to keep their relationship casual. When Grace becomes free, Harry decides he wants a relationship with her. Maren isn’t happy and decides to end the sex. 

When Grace and Harry hit it off, she decides to take him home to meet her parents.  But when he's introduced to her parents, a shared secret turns his world into a living nightmare. Maren is Grace’s mother!!!!!  Huh?  What? What are the odds???  When Grace’s father asks Harry to join him in a game of golf the following morning, Harry is forced to stay for the weekend. He finds it to be more than he can stand. How will he ever survive the weekend?

The storyline is a bit hard to believe, especially when it’s revealed that Harry is studying architecture and Grace’s father happens to be a partner in the company Harry is supposed to interview with the following week. The notion of Harry having sex with both the mother and daughter surely must satisfy every man’s fantasy. Hmmm!

The film, directed by J.C. Khoury, stars Connie Nielsen, Sara Paxton, Jonathan Sadowski, David Aaron Baker and Al Thompson .

All Relative opened on VOD and theatrically in 10 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, and Detroit.

Running time: 85 minutes.

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

Jacob Latimore Is Keeping His Feet On The Ground

Jacob Latimore

By Darlene Donloe

Jacob Latimore is a triple threat. The 18-year-old heartthrob is a singer, actor and dancer who is making tidal waves in the industry.

Everything is going his way.

For the last three years he was nominated for BET’s YoungStars Awards.

His song, Heartbreak Heard Around The World, featuring T-Pain, premiered on Idolator on June 9.  Last October he was part of the High School Nation Tour, where he performed alongside Drake Bell, Bean and Dakota Bradley.

Jacob Latimore, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker 
in Black Nativity (courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

 His movie credits include Vanishing on 7th Street and Maze Runner, which hit theaters last September. He also appeared in Ride Along with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and in the holiday film, Black Nativity with Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson with whom he collaborated on Hush Child (Get You Through This Silent Night), which appeared on the film’s soundtrack.

 Jacob Latimore (second from the right) in The Maze Runner

If you missed his performance in The Maze Runner, which grossed $225 million worldwide, don’t worry, the DVD and Blu-ray (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) are set for a December 15 release. The film is a survival thriller based on the best-selling novel.  Black Nativity was released on Blu-ray and DVD last October.

I recently caught up with the extremely busy Wisconsin native to talk about how he keeps his feet on the ground while dealing with showbiz.

DD:  The holiday season is upon us, why should anyone watch or buy Black Nativity?

JL: I think it’s a relatable family situation. My character, Langston, is living with a single mom who is falling on hard times. But he doesn’t know who his family is. He doesn’t understand what went on. He wants to have that relationship with the family. The film shows family togetherness and faith. Be thankful for what you have.

DD: Thanksgiving is coming fast. Any plans for the holidays?

JL: I will be with my family in Milwaukee. It’s going to be fun. We sing. There are four singers. We also play Monopoly.

Jennifer Hudson and Jacob Latimore in Black Nativity 
(courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment)

DD: The Black Nativity DVD is coming out soon. Talk about working with Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett and Jenifer Hudson.

JL: They are incredible. Being in their presence and seeing how focused they are was inspiring. I had to hold my responsibility of the film. I had to step my game up and be on point.
DD: Did you learn anything from any of them?

JL: I learned about focus.

DD: The Maze Runner did well at the box office. How did you approach that role? The Maze Runner starred Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf,” The Internship), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (“Game of Thrones”), Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), and Kaya Scodelario (“Skins”).

JL:  I auditioned for another role, but by the time I auditioned everyone was cast. Once I saw the movement behind the book and film, I wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t care what I was playing. I was happy to be a part of it.

DD: You have booked several commercials and voiceovers, done movies and you are a recording artist.  You’re moving fast. What is your plan for your career?

JL: My plan, I see myself like a Justin Timberlake or Will Smith. I want to balance out my music that I’ve been doing since I was nine. My own film company and record label.

Jacob Latimore and Thandie Newton in Vanishing on 7th Street
DD: How did you prepare for your first lead role in early 2011 with the feature film, Vanishing on 7th Street, starring Hayden Christensen and Thandie Newton?

JL: I definitely pray. I like to be natural. I read the script a lot. I have the character on my mind al the time. I try to put myself in the situation.

DD: Were you any good?
JL: I’m my worst critic. I was bad. I’m not too hard on myself. It makes me cringe to watch me.  Sometimes I shock myself.

DD: Are you going to study acting?

JL: I just jumped into. But I’m looking forward to doing that. I want to train.  I’ve had quick acting coaches.

DD:  Have you seriously studied acting?

JL: It’s a really cool experience. You challenge yourself to be in someone’s shoes. You get to feel different emotions. Get out of your comfort zone.

DD: What does music do for you?

JL: What would we do without music? It helps us explain things. It makes you feel good.

DD: Your father is a singer with the Latimore Brothers. Music is in your blood.  What did you learn from your father?

JL: Growing up, he helped me on the road. He makes sure I don’t over sing. A lot of my family helps me with that. They make sure I’m on top of what I need to get on top of.

DD:  What did you expect when you got into showbiz and what did you get?

JL: I think sometimes being a young artist you think it’s easier than what it is. You have to keep pushing yourself. There will be a lot of nos. Sometimes they won’t believe in your vision. Some people say things you don’t like. R Kelly gave me some advice. He said to stay humble. I’m a faithful guy.

DD: What do you think when people compare you to Chris Brown and Usher?

JL:  That’s incredible. I look up to those guys. Michael Jackson and Timberlake are the best. I still want people to know who Jacob Latimore is.

 DD: You had a good year.  How do you keep your feet on the ground?

JL:  It’s important to keep family members around. When I was younger I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. It keeps me humble. It’s important to keep people around who have always been around.

DD: 10 years from now where do you want to be?

JL: Winning Grammies, Oscars, Emmys, directing films and writing scripts. I want to do the executive type of things.

DD:  What’s next for you?

JL:  I’m in the studio right now. I’m constantly working. I’ll be putting out music in a few months. Right now I’m living in the studio.

BLACK NATIVITY DVD and BLU-RAY  is currently in stores. Running time: 143 minutes; Rated: PG

THE MAZE RUNNER DVD and BLU-RAY   is in stores Dec. 16, 2014.  Running time: 113 minutes; Rated: PG-13

 *The Maze Runner photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oscar® Race For Live Action Shorts Heats Up

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 87th Academy Awards®.  One hundred forty-one pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

“Aya,” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, directors (Chasis Films)

“Baghdad Messi,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Kobe Van Steenberghe, producer (a team productions)

“Boogaloo and Graham,” Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, writer (Out of Orbit)

“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” Hu Wei, director, and Julien Féret, producer (AMA Productions)

“Carry On,” Yatao Li, director (Rochester Institute of Technology)

“My Father’s Truck,” Maurício Osaki, director (Lupi Filmes)

“Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, director, and Stefan Eichenberger, producer (Zurich University of Arts)

“The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby, director, and James Lucas, writer (RSA Films)

“SLR,” Stephen Fingleton, director, and Matthew James Wilkinson, producer (Stigma Films)

“Summer Vacation (Chofesh Gadol),” Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, directors (GREENproductions)

The Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in Los Angeles.

Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist.  Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, London, New York and San Francisco in December.

The 87th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The Oscars® will be held on Sunday, February 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.  The Oscar presentation 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 — the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; 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.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Calloway Wins 2014 NAACP Theatre Award

Photo Credit: Photo By Foxx

(LOS ANGELES, CA) -- A one-woman dramatization of personal letters written by author Zora Neale Hurston that incorporates excerpts from her impressive body of work to tell a most intriguing life story is not the simplest of parts to play, which is why Vanessa Bell Calloway earned Best Lead Female - Equity honors for her role in the stage play "Letters From Zora: In Her How Words" at the NAACP Theatre Awards presented at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA, Monday night.  
Exploring Hurston's controversial views on integration, segregation and social justice, showcasing a life that was filled with artistic triumphs as well as abject poverty and self-doubt, Calloway plays the role of Zora in this provocative multimedia production directed by Anita Dashiell-Sparks and written by novelist Gabrielle Pina, also nominated in the Best Writing category for her work on "Letters From Zora."

"A great actor doesn't simply act, she embodies the soul and spirit of the person they're portraying.  Vanessa Bell Calloway becomes Zora Neal Hurston so much so that audiences forgot that they were watching a performance.  Truly brilliant," said actress Lela Rochon Fuqua of Calloway's one-woman show.  
Calloway (above) as Hurston in "Letters From Zora" 
(Photo Courtesy DSD Publicity)

Motown Singer Jimmy Ruffin Dead At 78

Jimmy Ruffin

"Jimmy Ruffin was a phenomenal singer.  He was truly underrated because we were also fortunate to have his brother, David, as the lead singer of the Temptations, who got so much acclaim.  Jimmy, as a solo artist, had "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted," one of the greatest songs put out by Motown and also one of my personal favorites.   He was a wonderful human being, quiet and unassuming, who touched many lives with his music, not just here in the states, but overseas, as well.  
Jimmy Ruffin will always be a part of the Motown legacy, and I extend my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans."
Berry Gordy, Founder
November 19, 2014

Essence® Winner Greta Prince Signs With SRT

Jackson, MS - SRT ENTERTAINMENT recently announced the signing of ESSENCE R&B Star winner Greta Prince and the release of her new single, “Forever.” (Available Online Today)

Written and produced by “who’s got next” producer/songwriter Daniel Bryant, “Forever” is filled with a pulsating and driving bass line characteristic of the southern R&B/Hip Hop familiar to Greta’s hometown of Atlanta, GA and reminiscent of 80’s Hip Hop live beat boxing.

“I wanted to sing about love, relationships, and finding your lifelong partner in a healthy, positive way”, Greta says of her new release.
“I commend ESSENCE® for creating this R&B Star platform which is very vital to the perpetuation of R&B music and the development of new stars for future generations," said D.A. Johnson, president of SRT ENTERTAINMENT.

“Forever” is the first single from Greta Prince’s forthcoming self-titled EP slated for release in 2015.

SRT ENTERTAINMENT is a premiere multi-media entertainment company and content provider. It’s comprised of record labels, distribution, syndicated radio shows, television shows, feature films, marketing & consulting, booking & artist management, public relations, concert & event promotions, music festivals, internet web portal, fashion, literature, and women hair products. With over 25 years of entertainment business leadership experience, creativity and innovation, SRT Entertainment is poised to become a leader in new media. “One Company… A World Of Entertainment.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

'Selma' Execs Participate In Q&A In San Francisco

Director/Executive Producer Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey

David Oyelowo, Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey

The upcoming film Selma had a special screening yesterday at the historic Castro Theatre in San Francisco followed by a Q&A where Director/Executive Producer, Ava DuVernay, Producers Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, and Actor David Oyelowo (who plays Martin Luther King) participated. Selma, from Paramount Pictures, Pathé, and Harpo Films, is in select theaters on Christmas Day and opens wide on January 9th, 2015.   

David Oyelowo and Oprah Winfrey

Selma Opens In Select Theaters December 25, 2014
In All Theaters January 9, 2015

Selma is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition.  The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement.  Director Ava DuVernay’s Selma tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

Starring David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alessandro Nivola, Giovanni Ribisi Common, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, with Tim Roth and Oprah Winfrey as “Annie Lee Cooper.”
Directed by Ava DuVernay
Written by Paul Webb
Produced by Christian Colson, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Oprah Winfrey
Executive Producers Cameron McCracken, Nik Bower,
                                  Diarmuid McKeown, Ava DuVernay, Paul Garnes, Nan Morales

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Love Story At Center Of 'Beyond The Lights'

By Darlene Donloe

Stardom is a fickle lover. It adores you one minute and kicks you to the curb the next. You’re the flavor of the month and then it won’t even take your calls.

The perils of stardom, the ability to trust in yourself and, of course, love, are the core of the new film, Beyond the Lights.

It’s the story of Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a music superstar who has allowed her mother (Minnie Driver) and the pressures of the business to push her to the edge. Feeling invisible, she makes a fateful decision, but is brought back from the brink by Kaz Nicol, a young cop and aspiring politician (Nate Parker) who “sees” her.

One things leads to another and a tender relationship develops. But not everyone is happy for the couple. Kaz’s father, played by Danny Glover, would prefer that his son concentrate on his bid for office.  Noni’s mother wants her to concentrate on being the biggest entertainer in the world.

It all makes for an intriguing story helmed by director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Secret Life of Bees, Love and Basketball).

Mbatha-Raw is believable as the fragile, rebellious superstar. She delivers some respectable concert performances. 

Parker always turns in a worthy performance. This time he’s enlisted to show strength, vulnerability, passion and patience.  He succeeds in producing all four.

This is one of Driver’s best performances ever. She nearly steals the film with a stunning and noteworthy performance as a driven stage mom.

Beyond the Lights is a simple story, but with an intriguing foundation. Its seedy underbelly is engaging.


Beyond the Lights, written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Colson “MGK” Baker and Danny Glover.  The film is produced by Stephanie Allain, Ryan Kavanaugh, Amar’e Stoudemire and Reggie Rock Bythewood. It’s executive produced by Tucker Tooley, Matt Alvarez, Robbie Brenner, Ron Burkle and Jason Colbeck.

Beyond the Lights, in theaters Nov. 14, is Rated PG-13.

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