Sunday, March 27, 2016

Six Honored At Los Angeles Women's Theatre Fest

By Darlene Donloe

The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF) celebrated its 23rd anniversary by kicking off a weekend of festivities Thursday night with an opening night, A Toast To Greatness, champagne gala and awards ceremony honoring six women for their career and life achievements.

The event, hosted by actors Starletta DuPois and Barry Shabaka Henley, and written and directed by Shanae Sharon, was held at The Electric Lodge in Venice. The theme of this year’s festival is Telling Our Truths.

Starletta DuPois

“This evening is important because it’s about women supporting other women,” said DuPois. “I like what the festival represents. It shows how women can grow and fly. Women need to understand each other and push each other up. This festival shows how much we love each other.”

Barry Shabaka Henley

“In a world run by men, it’s important to honor the accomplishments of women every chance we get,” said Henley.  “It’s an important tool passing on culture and history.  It’s a way of honoring our tradition and storytelling.”

Sandra Evers Manly

The night’s honorees included Sandra Evers Manly, who received the Integrity Award, presented to an artist or individual who has brought credibility and dignity to her work. Evers-Manly is a former president of the Beverly Hills Hollywood NAACP. She oversaw the NAACP Image Awards as well as the NAACP Theater Awards. She also supports the Ebony Repertory Theatre and the Los Angeles Mark Taper Theatre Education Program. Evers-Manly is the founding president of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC) which, for the past 22 years, has sponsored the African American Film Marketplace and S.E.Manly Short Film Showcase, “Sisters are Doin' It For Themselves” and “Real Black Men” Film Festivals as well as the Los Angeles Youth Diversity Film Festival. 

Other honorees included the following.

Eloise Laws

Eloise Laws was given the Eternity Award, given to an artist or individual whose lifetime achievements have made a lasting contribution to the world of theatre. Eloise Laws, known to her
fans simply as "El", is a Broadway actress, singer, and author with more than 30 years in the entertainment industry. She is critically acclaimed for her harmonious jazz, soul and R&B music.

Marja-Lewis Ryan

Marja-Lewis Ryan was given the Maverick Award, presented to an artist or individual whose work has set a high standard of individuality and self-styled creativity. Marja-Lewis Ryan (writer/director/producer) holds an Honors BFA in theatre from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where she studied at The Atlantic Theater Company. 2011:  She wrote, produced and starred in her play Dysnomia (Ovation nomination for Playwriting). 2014:  Ryan made her directorial debut with her play One in the Chamber (Winner: Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Writing, and for Best Actress Heidi Sulzman; Ovation nomination for Playwriting). 2015: Ryan directed and produced the L.A. Premiere of David Mamet’s The Anarchist starring Felicity Huffman and Rebecca Pidgeon.

Ana Maria Alvarez

Ana Maria Alvarez received the Rainbow Award, bestowed on an artist or individual for her diverse contributions in fostering non-traditional and multi-cultural theatre works. Alvarez, a Cuban-American choreographer, is known for her daring, multidimensional and boundary blurring choreography.

Dr. Chantal Rodriguez

Dr. Chantal Rodriguez also received the Rainbow Award. Rodriguez, Ph.D., is the programming director/literary manager for the Latino Theater Company, operators of the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC) in downtown L.A. Since 2009 she has produced many seasons of culturally diverse work at the LATC including Encuentro 2014, the largest Latino Theatre Festival in over 25 years.

Elizabeth Pena

Actress Elizabeth Pena was honored posthumously with the Infinity Award, memorializing exceptional achievements of a theatre artist.  She is the daughter of the founders of the Latin American Theatre Ensemble. She was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA). Although known for her work in television (Tough Cookies, Shannon’s Deal, I Married Dora, Resurrection Blvd.) and feature films (Jacob’s Ladder, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Lone Star, La Bamba), she also had extensive stage credits, mostly in New York. Her stage work included roles in Act One and Only, Antigone, Blood Wedding, Night of the Assassins, Italian-American Reconciliation, Bring on the Night, and more. Pena passed away in October 2014.

During the opening night gala, Ashley Gayle performed a dance interpretation called, Study on a Butterfly, while honoree, Eloise Laws, performed two songs.

As is its tradition, this year’s LAWTF will present a number of solo works showcasing the many voices of womanhood, while celebrating the theatre community. On tap is a roster of distinguished artists who will co-host four days and five programs through March 27.

On Friday, March 25, actor/playwright and director Joyce Guy and Lula Washington, founder and artistic director of the Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) performed a program titled Fathers and Daughters.

On Sat., March 26, a program titled Culturally Speaking, will feature Iona Morris (actor, director, writer, voice artist) and Adleane Hunter (director, producer).

Also on Saturday, the Identity Revealed program will feature Rosie Lee Hooks (founding member of the musical performance ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock) and award-winning vocalist and Broadway actor Eloise Laws.

“A festival like this empowers women,” said Laws. “This is a great way to meet and greet other people in the business. It’s about communicating. Something like this lets the community know what’s going on in the theater.”

Laws said it was “encouraging” to be honored.

“It’s nice to be honored by your peers,” said Laws. “It’s more meaningful when your peers like and honor your work.”

The festival concludes Sun., March 27, with Striving for Balance, performed by Ingrid Graham (dancer, choreographer) and performance artist Sky Palkowitz.

In its 23-year history, the LAWTF, the longest running annual solo festival for women in Los Angeles, has produced more than 500 multicultural and multidisciplinary solo performers from around the world.

The LAWTF, a non-profit, was founded by Executive Producer Adilah Barnes and Miriam Reed.

General admission tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Students, seniors and groups of 10 or more are $18. Children 12 and under, $10.

Reservations: (818) 760-0408. Online reservations are available at

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Nominees

The nominees for the 43rd Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were announced today.  The show takes place on Sunday, May 1.

Following is a list of nominees.

Outstanding Morning Program
CBS Sunday Morning
CBS This Morning
Good Morning America
Today Show

Outstanding Talk Show/Informative
The Chew
Dr. Oz
Larry King Now
The Doctors
The Kitchen

Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host
The Chew co-hosts
Dr. Mehmet Oz, The Dr. Oz Show
Larry King, Larry King Now

Peter Salgo, Second Opinion

Steve Harvey, Steve Harvey

Outstanding Talk Show/Entertainment
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
The Wendy Williams Show
The Talk
The Real
The View

Outstanding Entertainment Talk Show Host
Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan, Live! with Kelly and Michael

The Talk co-hosts
Wendy Williams, The Wendy Williams Show

The Real co-hosts
The View co-hosts

Outstanding Game Show
Let's Make a Deal
Monopoly Millionaire's Club
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
The Price Is Right

Outstanding Game Show Host
Craig Ferguson, Celebrity Name Game
Steve Harvey, Family Feud 
Brook Burns, The Chase
Billy Gardell, Monopoly Millionaires' Club

Wayne Brady, Let's Make a Deal

Outstanding Legal Program
Divorce Court
Hot Bench
Judge Judy
Lauren Lake's Paternity Court
The People's Court

Outstanding Culinary Program
America's Test Kitchen

Cook's Country

Giada in Italy

 Mexico One Plate at a Time

 Pati's Mexican Table

Patricia Heaton Parties

The Mind of a Chef (PBS)

My Grandmother's Ravioli (Cooking Channel)

Outstanding Drama Series
The Bold and the Beautiful
Days of Our Lives
General Hospital
The Young and the Restless 

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Tracey E. Bregman, The Young and the Restless
Kassie Depaiva, Days of Our Lives
Mary Beth Evans, Days of Our Lives
Finola Hughes, General Hospital
Maura West, General Hospital

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Tyler Christopher,  General Hospital
Anthony Geary, General Hospital
Justin Hartley, The Young and the Restless
Christian LeBlanc, The Young and the Restless
Kristoff St. John, The Young and the Restless

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

LauraLee Bell, The Young and the Restless
Jessica Collins, The Young and the Restless
Linsey Godfrey, The Bold and the Beautiful
Peggy McCay, Days of Our Lives
Melissa Reeves, Days of Our Lives

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Sean Blackmore, General Hospital
Steve Burton, The Young and the Restless
Bryton James, The Young and the Restless
Jacob Young, The Bold and the Beautiful
Dominic Zamprogna, General Hospital

Younger Actress in a Drama Series

Reign Edwards, The Bold and the Beautiful

Hunter King, The Young and the Restless

True O'Brien, Days of Our Lives

Ashlyn Pearce, The Bold and the Beautiful

Brooklyn Rae Silzer, General Hospital

Younger Actor in a Drama Series

Nicolas Becthel, General Hospital
Bryan Craig, General Hospital
Max Ehrich, The Young and the Restless
Pierson Fode, The Bold and the Beautiful
Tequan Richmond, General Hospital

Outstanding Digital Drama Series

The Bay The Series
East Los High



Shannon Bryant's "Light" Is Shining on Radio

SAN FRANCISCO (24 March 2016): Even before Shannon Bryant’s “Light” was released, CBC Radio Canada’s “Fresh Air” made the ten-song singer-songwriter session mixed by multiple GRAMMY® winner Joe Chiccarelli (Jason Mraz, Alanis Morissette, U2, Elton John, Frank Zappa) a “Top Pick” for February. Midwest Record hailed the intimate collection issued on the Belle Estrela Music label as “one of the best confessional singer/songwriter sets,” a sentiment echoed by Exclusive Magazine’s emphatic confirmation “Yep, this album of tracks completely written and produced by Shannon Bryant is just that damn good.”  

As airplay for the “Light” album grows in March at commercial, NPR and college radio stations, the topical title track confronting guns and domestic violence will air throughout April on Women of Substance Radio’s “Music with a Conscience” as well as be programmed on an episode of the Women of Substance’s podcast, an award-winning iTunes topper that highlights new independent music releases.   

Gracefully plying her expressive soprano voice, Bryant’s studies in philosophy inform her highly-personal lyrics on this, her third album. The London, Ontario native and longtime San Francisco resident communicates with candor and revealing slice-of-life poetry. For instance, “Fresh Air” host Mark Rheaume singled out “Milk & Honey” for a spotlight segment, a song memorializing Bryant’s late mother with a series of fond remembrances. On “Light,” contemplative ruminations about love, relationships, spiritual direction and empowering affirmations of self-worth and discovery are paired with alluring melodies – beautiful, pristine notes and harmonies that breathe life and color into Bryant’s stories. The acoustic accompaniment organically underscores her messages with several tracks benefitting from sparser instrumentation. Live strings throughout the proceedings add depth and lushness while ratcheting the emotion. 

Bryant will perform music from “Light” at the Shelton Theater in San Francisco on May 15. For more information, please visit

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hart and Johnson Star In 'Central Intelligence'

After he reunites with an old pal through Facebook, a mild-mannered accountant is lured into the world of international espionage.

Nyong'o Stars In 'Junglebook,' Opens April 15


Kenyan beauty Lupita Nyong’o, plays Raksha in Disney's upcoming film, The Jungle Book. Check out the clip below.

SYNOPSIS: Raised by a family of wolves since birth, Mowgli (Neel Sethi) must leave the only home he's ever known when the fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) unleashes his mighty roar. Guided by a stern panther (Ben Kingsley) and a free-spirited bear (Bill Murray), the young boy meets an array of jungle animals, including a slithery python (Scarlett Johansson) and a smooth-talking ape. Along the way, Mowgli learns valuable life lessons as his epic journey of self-discovery leads to fun and adventure.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

ICT's caryn desai To Get Local Hero Award

The African American History & Culture Foundation has recognized International City Theatre artistic director/producer caryn desai [sic] as one of its 2016 Community Heroes.

The award, which was announced just days after desai accepted the Los Angeles Drama Critic Circle Award for ‘Best Season’ at the circle’s annual ceremony, honors desai’s excellence in leadership and service that stands out as a stellar example to youth in the community.

“I have had the opportunity to participate in some of your great programs,” wrote AAHCF CEO Chandra Salaam in a letter. “Thanks for your senior outreach which provides access for low-income senior citizens. However, AAHCF seeks to honor you for your phenomenal youth outreach programs, including ICT’s mainstage productions, Performing Arts Classroom Teaching program, Student to Stage program, internship opportunities and the Summer Youth Conservatory.”

“This is especially rewarding because it is for the work we do in the community, not only for our theater productions,” desai said.

The African American History & Culture Foundation’s mission is to enhance the lives of urban youth, their families and communities by providing ongoing historical, educational and recreational services to meet their diverse needs.

The awards ceremony is set to take place on June 25 on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Hit Series 'Underground' Is Shattering Records

Full-length trailer:    

Los Angeles, March 14, 2016 – On the heels of rave reviews, the premiere of WGN America's critically acclaimed hit series "Underground" shattered records as the most-watched program in nearly 18 years on the network, since the Cubs vs. Cardinals game on 9/8/1998 where Mark McGwire famously hit his 62nd home run beating Roger Maris’s single season record.  In Live + 3 delivery, “Underground” amassed 3.5 million Total Viewers (+43% vs. 2.5 million) and 1.5 Adults 25-54 (+51% vs. 983,000), last Wednesday night (premiere and three encores) to become the highest rated original scripted program ever in the network’s history.  When adding digital platforms and encores, "Underground" continued its winning streak, outpacing all originals on the network with 4.9 million Total Viewers on premiere night and 5.7 million Total Viewers across the week.  The 10 p.m. airing drew 2.3 million Total Viewers (+60% vs. 1,421,000) and 985,000 Adults 25-54 (+68% vs. 585,000), outperforming the network’s prime average season-to-date by +948% in the demo.  

"We couldn't be happier with the outstanding performance of 'Underground,' but the overwhelmingly positive response of the audience to this story about the unsung American heroes of the Underground Railroad is even more gratifying," said Matt Cherniss, president and general manager, WGN America and Tribune Studios.  "The talented creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, along with the producers and an amazing cast and crew, have created something truly special."

The commercial-free premiere of “Underground” aired Wednesday, March 9 at 10 p.m., and ranks an impressive #6 in Total Viewers among all scripted cable series premieres this broadcast season and #8 among Adults 25-54.

Lauded for its vivid and thrilling portrayal of the revolutionaries of the Underground Railroad, "Underground’s” 3.5 million Total Viewers on the night improved on the premiere nights of the network’s popular originals “Outsiders” by +25% (vs. 2.8 million) and “Salem” by +9% (vs. 3.2 million).

From creators and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive producer and Academy Award®-winner John Legend, the 10-episode, hour-long program tells the unflinching story of a group of courageous men and women who band together for the fight of their lives – for their families, their future and their freedom.  In all-new episode of "Underground," "War Chest," airing WEDNESDAY, March 16 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT), a plantation dance becomes the perfect distraction for a heist while John and Elizabeth step into a strange new world.

“Underground” has fast amassed a passionate fan base, and trended on Twitter in its premiere night as the second highest trending topic of the night, only after the Democratic debate.  The series was recently honored at the White House with a screening and panel discussion as part of the Office of Public Engagement's Black History Month program.  Additionally, "Underground" has been screened at a number of revered institutions, universities and events, including National Civil Rights Museum, 2016 Sundance Film Festival, NAACP, Schomburg Center, DuSable Museum of African American History, Howard University, New York Comic-Con, and more.

The cast of “Underground” includes Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“True Blood,” “Friday Night Lights”), Aldis Hodge (“Straight Outta Compton”), Christopher Meloni (“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”), Alano Miller (“Jane The Virgin”), ‎Jessica de Gouw (“Arrow,” “Dracula”), Marc Blucas (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), ‎Adina Porter (“The 100”), Mykelti Williamson (“Justified,” “24”), ‎Amirah Vann (“Girls,” “And So It Goes”), Johnny Ray Gill (“Rectify”), Chris Chalk (“Gotham”), Reed Diamond (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Theodus Crane (“The Walking Dead”), James Lafferty(“One Tree Hill”), Renwick Scott (“Treme”) and Jussie Smollett (“Empire”). 

Hailing from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Studios, “Underground” is created by Misha Green ("Sons Of Anarchy," "Heroes") and Joe Pokaski (“Daredevil,” "Heroes,") who executive produce alongside Academy Award-winner Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind," "I Am Legend") of Weed Road Pictures; and Joby Harold ("King Arthur," "Edge of Tomorrow") and Tory Tunnell ("King Arthur," "Holy Rollers") of Safehouse Pictures.  Visionary artist and producer John Legend, an Academy Award, Golden Globe® and multi-Grammy Award winner, and his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius executive produce.  Additionally, Get Lifted oversees all elements of the show’s music.  Anthony Hemingway (“The Wire,” “Treme”) directs and serves as executive producer for the first four episodes.  

WGN America and Tribune Studios 
WGN America, the flagship entertainment network of Tribune Media Company (NYSE: TRCO) is nationally distributed in nearly 80 million homes via cable, satellite and telco, with high-quality entertainment programming including the breakout hit series “Outsiders” and “Salem," and the upcoming scripted drama  “Underground.”  The network also brings its audience a strong slate of popular first-run syndicated series and blockbuster movies.  Through Tribune Studios, the creative development arm of Tribune Media, original content is produced for WGN America and Tribune local stations nationwide.  Follow the network on Twitter @wgnamerica.  For additional information, please visit

About Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry’s leading content providers, producing and distributing programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition to managing one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature films, television shows and formats, SPT is home to a thriving US production business and operates 18 wholly-owned or joint venture production companies in 11 countries around the world. SPT’s worldwide networks portfolio includes 150 channel feeds, which are available in 178 countries reaching more than 1.3 billion cumulative households worldwide. Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment Company.

Follow the series @UndergroundWGN -- #BreakFree