Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Academy Invites 683 To Join Its Ranks

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), headed by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, has invited 683 industry professionals to join its ranks.

In response to this year’s #OscarsSoWhite fiasco, the Academy has sent an olive branch, of sorts.

Isaacs publicly announced the academy’s plan to double the number of women and members from diverse backgrounds by 2020.

On Wednesday, the academy took the first steps toward that goal.

Last year 322 were invited. This year’s 683 invitees more than doubles last year’s numbers. About 46 percent are female and 41 percent are people of color. Doubling the invitees will move overall female membership in the academy from 25 percent to 27 percent, and that of members of color from 8 percent to 11 percent.

Following is a list of invitees by category.

Morris Chestnut

Actors: Mahershala Ali, Anthony Anderson, Chadwick Boseman, John Boyega, Morris Chestnut, Loretta Devine, Carmen Ejogo, Idris Elba, Vivica A. Fox, Dennis Haysbert, Ice Cube, Michael B. Jordan, Regina King, Nia Long, Adepero Oduye, Nate Parker, Harold Perrineau, Anika Noni Rose, Tessa Thompson, Lorraine Toussaint, Glynn Turman, Gabrielle Union, Damon Wayans Jr. and Marlon Wayans.

Hair/Makeup: Pierce Austin, Camille Friend, Norma Hill-Patton, Beverly Jo Pryor

Documentarians: Haile Gerima, Laurens Grant, Thomas Allen Harris, Shola Lynch, Louis Massiah, Dawn Porter

Casting: Jacqueline “Jaki” Brown, Kim Taylor-Coleman

Ryan Coogler

Directors: Amma Asante, Souleymane Cissé, Ryan Coogler, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Albert Hughes, Euzhan Palcy, Dee Rees, George Tillman Jr., Melvin Van Peeples, Keenan Ivory Wayans

Executives: Courtney D. Armstrong, Nicole Brown, Pauline Fischer, DeVon Franklin, James F. Lopez.

Mary J. Blige

Music: Mary J. Blige, RZA, Marcus Miller, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson,

Art Department: Production designer Hannah E. Beachler, storyboard artists Warren Drummond and Michael Anthony Jackson

Producers: Debra Martin Chase, Paul E. Hall

Jacqueline L. "Jackie" Bazan

Publicists: Jacqueline L. “Jackie” Bazan, Cassandra Butcher, Terra Potts, Arnold Robinson

Short Films and Animation: Damon Russell

Writers: Ryan Coogler, Ice Cube, Keenan Ivory Wayans (all invited in multiple categories)

Members at Large: Yolanda T. Cochran, Cameron Mitchell

Bill Jones, Legendary Photographer, Dies At 83

Bill Jones

Bill Jones, the highly distinguish and published African American photographer has passed away at 83. According to Jones’ granddaughter, Latoya “Toy” Jones, he died on Sat., June 25, 2016 at 12 noon, while holding her hand after suffering from dementia since 2014.

Photojournalist Malcolm Ali was with the family during his passing. 

“He was a pioneer," said Malcolm Ali, who mentored under Bill Jones.  "Before cell phones, before digital, there was Bill with his camera. There will never be another one like him.”

Jones career expanded for more than 50 years. His countless images provided the public with a rare look into the lives of the country’s most notable and influential people that include, high profile entrepreneurs, entertainers, athletes, political figures and social activist such as Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Debbie Allen, Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Prince, Muhammad Ali, April Sutton, Queen Latifah, Raven Simone, Magic Johnson, President Barak Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks, to name a few.

Through his work, Jones became something of a celebrity himself. His work has been prominently featured in publications such as, Jet, Ebony, Essence, as well as national newspapers and network television shows such as VH1, MTV, BET and many others.

Jones is a solid part of African American history who has paved the way for other African American photographers to be invited to events/venues generally closed to them. His body of work and legacy became eternally embedded in American society when the board of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture overwhelmingly voted to include 79 of Jones’ historical images as part of their collection when it opens in late 2016.

Jones’ work is also archived to serve as an educational and resource reference at the United States Library of Congress as part of their Prints and Photographs Division.

Currently, the nature of Jones estate is very complex. In lieu of flowers, the family is in need of financial assistance to help with funeral expenses. Any donation would be greatly appreciated. Please send donations to c/o Latoya Jones, 20435 Califa Street, Woodland Hills, CA. 91367.  

Funeral services are pending and will be announced at a later date.

Rihanna's 'Sledgehammer' Music Video Released

Vevo Link
STAR TREK BEYOND is in theaters July 22, 2016
Star Trek Beyond, the highly anticipated next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with director Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious franchise) at the helm of this epic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her intrepid crew.  In Beyond, the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Rihanna's 'Sledgehammer' Video For 'Star Trek Beyond' Set To Debut In IMAX Theatres June 30

HOLLYWOOD, CA (June 29, 2016) – Paramount Pictures and IMAX® Corporation today announced that the video for Rihanna’s new single “Sledgehammer,” written for director Justin Lin’s highly anticipated film “STAR TREK BEYOND,” from Paramount, Skydance and Bad Robot, will debut exclusively in IMAX theatres on Thursday, June 30.

The single of “Sledgehammer” is available now for purchase, download and streaming on all DSP platforms.

“Sledgehammer” marks the first music video shot entirely with IMAX® cameras. Director Floria Sigismondi used the new ALEXA IMAX® camera, the same camera that was used to film the key battle sequence in “CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR.” The ALEXA IMAX 65mm camera is a next-generation revolutionary 2D digital camera developed through a partnership between ARRI and IMAX for use by today's leading filmmakers working in the IMAX® format. The camera, when combined with IMAX’s digital re-mastering process, delivers the highest level of digital image capture and playback resulting in stunning lifelike images with pristine clarity, incredibly fine detail, vivid colors and a higher dynamic range for superior contrast. The “Sledgehammer” video is produced by Maven.

Said Sigismondi: “I have been a fan of ‘STAR TREK’ since I was a little girl. I loved the idea that it explored new territory and the unknown. So being able to be the first director to shoot a music video entirely with IMAX cameras and use this revolutionary technology to explore a different type of new territory was a dream come true.”

Rihanna has taken the music, entertainment and fashion industry by storm. As an accomplished performer, she has sold 60 million albums and 215 million digital tracks worldwide, making her the top-selling digital artist of all time. She has released eight albums, achieved 14 number-one singles and won eight Grammy Awards. With more than 8.5 billion views and 21 Vevo certified videos, she is the most viewed female artist on Vevo/YouTube and is one of the biggest artists on Facebook with more than 81 million Likes. 

Rihanna is PUMA's global ambassador for Women’s Training and serves as the Creative Director of the brand, bringing her styling sensibilities and innovation to PUMA's collections. The first drop of the PUMA creeper collection sold out in three hours and continues to fly off the shelves with every release. In addition, she has successfully launched six fragrances, her limited capsule collection with Manolo Blahnik is in-stores now, and she has served as Contributing Creative Director and Punk & Poet brand ambassador for Stance since July 2015.

Floria Sigismondi is a world-renowned creator of film, music video, branded content, photographs, art and experience. With notable work in nearly every field of visual ephemera, Sigismondi’s directing ranges from iconic music videos for Justin Timberlake, David Bowie, Katy Perry, Pink and The White Stripes, to her feature film debut with “THE RUNAWAYS,” starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. When coupled with global brands, she has helmed lauded campaigns for the likes of Samsung, Thierry Mugler and Motorola, among others. When left to her singularly creative devices, Sigismondi’s photography, sculpture installations and paintings have left impressions all over the globe, from Germany to Italy to Sweden to the UK.

Sigismondi’s work is defined by enigmatic visual narratives, whether it be a short film for Sigur Ros or published monographs of her photography (“Redemption,” “Immune”). This approach has been praised with top honors at the MTV VMAs, World Luxury Awards, International Cristal Festival, and beyond.

“STAR TREK BEYOND,” the highly anticipated next installment in the globally popular Star Trek franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry and reintroduced by J.J. Abrams in 2009, returns with director Justin Lin (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise) at the helm of this epic voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise and her intrepid crew. In “Beyond,” the Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

From Paramount Pictures and Skydance, “STAR TREK BEYOND” is a Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark, Perfect Storm Entertainment production. The film stars John Cho, Simon Pegg, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoë Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin and Idris Elba. Directed by Justin Lin, the third film in the franchise series is produced by J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Lindsey Weber, and Justin Lin; and executive produced by Jeffrey Chernov, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, and Tommy Harper. Based upon “Star Trek” created by Gene Roddenberry, the screenplay is written by Simon Pegg & Doug Jung.

“STAR TREK BEYOND” opens in theatres beginning July 22, 2016.

Get “Sledgehammer” now:
“Sledgehammer” is written by Jesse Shatkin and Robyn Rihanna Fenty. Produced by Jesse Shatkin. Performed by Rihanna. Courtesy of Westbury Road Entertainment, LLC/Roc Nation. 

DreamWorks Set To Release 'Trolls' November 4

From the genius creators of SHREK, TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. TROLLS also stars Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Russell Brand, Icona Pop, Ron Funches and Kunal Nayaar. Together, the Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they’ve ever known. 
Watch the New TROLLS Trailer HERE:
TROLLS hits theaters everywhere on November 4, 2016!
Inline image 2
Release: November 4, 2016
Director: Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After)
Co-director: Walt Dohrn (Shrek Forever After)
Producer: Gina Shay (Shrek Forever After)
DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS is an irreverent comedy extravaganza with incredible music! From the genius creators of SHREK, TROLLS stars Anna Kendrick as Poppy, the optimistic leader of the Trolls, and her polar opposite, Branch, played by Justin Timberlake. Together, this unlikely pair of Trolls must embark on an adventure that takes them far beyond the only world they’ve ever known.
HASHTAG: #DreamWorksTrolls

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oldest Living Pullman Porter Passes At 106

Lee Wesley Gibson at his 100th birthday party in 2010, 
standing by a poster of him as a young Pullman Porter.

Lee Wesley Gibson, who had the distinguished honor of being the oldest living Pullman Porters in the United States, according to the National A. Phillip Randolph Museum in Chicago, passed away on Sat., June 24, 2016 at 106 years of age.  He died peacefully at home with his family by his side.  Funeral services will be held a People’s Independent Church, located at 5856 West Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA  90043 on Fri., July 1, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.  The interment will be at Inglewood Cemetery
Gibson was the second child born to West Gibson and Annie (Pugh) Gibson on May 21, 1910 in Keatchie, Louisiana.  He had one sister, Willie Mae White, who was a year and nine months older.  After his parents separated, his mother moved with her two children to Marshall, Texas.  He attended New Town Elementary School and Central High School.  On Sundays the family would travel by horse-drawn carriage to attend  church in the country.  He began to work as a teenager, working at Wiley College and Darco Corp., which made chemical cleaners for dry cleaning.  Later he began a career as a presser at Moon’s Cleaners, which he eventually bought. 
He married Beatrice A. Gibson in 1927 and they had three children born in Marshall, Texas; Lee Gibson, Jr. on May 18, 1929; Gwendolyn Gibson on September 26, 1931 and Barbara Gibson on August 18, 1933.  After the family moved to Los Angeles, California in 1935, the Gibson added another daughter to the family, Gloria Ann, who was born on August 30, 1944.   The couple was married for 76 years, when his beloved wife passed away in 2004. 
When the family first arrived in Los Angeles, they began to attend Olivet Baptist Church.  A deacon at the church referred Gibson to a job with Union Pacific Railroad in 1936.   He began as a Coach Porter and was later promoted to a Pullman Porter. Gibson loved working on the railroad because it allowed him to see the country, while affording a better life for him and his family.   He purchased a brand new family home in 1945 in South Central Los Angeles, in which he still lived until his passing.  He continued his career as a porter until retiring after 38 years in 1974.  
For 77 years (since 1939), the Gibson family has been devoted members of People’s Independent Church.  Over the years Gibson has faithfully served in numerous capacities; church treasurer, deacon, elder and an officer of the church credit union.
Gibson continued to live life to the fullest, even after retirement.  He served as a volunteer, who assisted travelers at Los Angeles International Airport.  Gibson also managed income tax preparation offices for H&R Block.  In addition, he was the District Director for AARP tax preparation assistance program for seniors.  Most recently Gibson was featured in a TV commercial for Dodge entitled “Wisdom,” which honored centenarians.  It first aired during the 2015 Super Bowl telecast.
When Gibson celebrated his milestone 100th birthday in 2010, over 100 family and friends came to celebrate at the Proud Bird, which was given by his three daughters.   For the past four years an annual birthday celebration was given at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles.  The 106th birthday celebration took place five-weeks ago.  Normally a man of few words, Gibson surprised guests when he took the microphone this year to express his sincere thanks and appreciation for his family and friends.  As always, Gibson was immaculately dressed wearing a designer suit and tie, a custom dress shirt with “106” embroidered on the cuffs. 
Over the years, Gibson has received a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, as well as resolutions from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, as well as, President of the Los Angeles City Council Herb Wesson, signed by all members of the council.  In 2011 he was the honored guest at the Union Pacific Railroads Black Employees Network’s Black History Month luncheon in Omaha, Nebraska.   He also served as Grand Marshal for the Watts Christmas Parade in 2010.  
Blessed with extraordinary good health, he took only a daily vitamin.  He was celebrated at the Department of Motor Vehicles when he passed the driving test at the age of 100.  He continued to drive until he was 102.  He enjoyed attending to church, spending time with family and friends, watching the Los Angeles Dodgers and attending social events.  He will be remembered for his longevity, positive spirit, love of God, devotion to family, wisdom and unconditional love for all mankind.
Lee Wesley Gibson will be missed by three daughters Gwendolyn Reed, Barbara Leverette and Gloria Gibson; six grandchildren; Renard (Carolyn) Polee, Michael Polee, David (Paula) Polee, Anita Polee, Alan (Jacqueline) Polee and Loratious Presley III.  Too numerous to list, he also had eighteen great-grandchildren twenty-two great-great-grandchildren, three great-great-great-grandchildren and a host of friends and admirers.  He was preceded in death by his parents, sister, wife Beatrice, son Lee Gibson, Jr., niece Lois Anderson and great-grandson Terrence Hill.

'The Secret Life of Pets' In Theaters July 8



SYNOPSIS: Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

OWN Launches New Drama Series 'Greenleaf'

 L-R - Desiree Ross, Merle Dandridge, Kim Hawthorne, Zachary S. Williams, Kristin Erickson, Debra Joy Winans, Deji LaRay, Benjamin Patterson, GregAlan Williams, Lynn Whitfield, Tye White, Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, Terri Abney, and Anna Diop at OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network Los Angeles premiere of Greenleaf (Photo Credit: Getty Images Mark Davis)

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network hosted a private screening event at The Lot in West Hollywood to celebrate the premiere of Greenleaf the network’s highly anticipated new original drama series. The family megachurch series, which features Oprah’s first recurring scripted television role in two decades, takes viewers into the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis church where scandalous secrets and lies are as numerous as the faithful. After the screening, Oprah gave welcoming remarks and invited guests to join her at the Memphis BBQ reception that followed.

Greenleaf  launched its two-night premiere on Tues., June 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and Wed., June 22 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN The series will regularly air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT for the remainder of its 13-episode first season.

Attendees included Oprah Winfrey (Executive Producer and recurring role as Mavis McCready) along with Greenleaf cast members Merle Dandridge (Grace Greenleaf), Keith David (Bishop James Greenleaf), Lynn Whitfield (Lady Mae Greenleaf), Kim Hawthorne (Kerissa Greenleaf), Lamman Rucker (Jacob Greenleaf), Tye White (Kevin Satterlee), Deborah Joy Winans (Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee), Desiree Ross (Sophia Greenleaf), GregAlan Williams (“Mac McCready”), Benjamin Patterson (“Noah Kendall”), Kristin Erickson(“Alexa”), Anna Diop (“Isabel”), Terri Abney (“Faith Greenleaf”), Zachary S. Williams (“William”), Jason Dirden (“Bassie Skanks”), Deji LaRay (“David Nelson”), plus Craig Wright(Executive Producer/Creator), Clement Virgo (Executive Producer/Director), Erik Logan (President, OWN), Kevin Beggs (Chairman, Lionsgate Television), and Sandra Stern (President, Lionsgate Television Group).  Additional attendees include Niecy Nash (Scream Queens), David Oyelowo (Selma) and more.

The new original drama series Greenleaf from award-winning writer/producer Craig Wright (“Lost,” “Six Feet Under,” “Brothers and Sisters”) takes viewers into the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis megachurch, where scandalous secrets and lies are as numerous as the faithful.  Born of the church, the Greenleaf family love and care for each other, but beneath the surface lies a den of iniquity -- greed, adultery, sibling rivalry and conflicting values -- that threatens to tear apart the very core of their faith that holds them together.  “Greenleaf” stars Merle Dandridge (“The Night Shift”) as Grace “Gigi” Greenleaf; Keith David (“Community”) as Bishop James Greenleaf; Lynn Whitfield (“The Josephine Baker Story”) as Lady Mae Greenleaf; Kim Hawthorne (“Rake”) as Kerissa Greenleaf; Lamman Rucker (“Meet the Browns”) as Jacob Greenleaf; Tye White (“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) as Kevin Satterlee; Deborah Joy Winans (“Whitney”) as Charity Greenleaf-Satterlee; Desiree Ross (“Falling Skies”) as Sophia; and Oprah Winfrey (“Selma”) in a recurring role as Mavis McCready.  “Greenleaf” is produced for OWN by Lionsgate Television.  Executive producers are Oprah Winfrey, Craig Wright and Clement Virgo.

Iceland's Jack Magnet Is All For 'Global Warning'

 There is nothing in the ten new songs that make up Jack Magnet’s Woodward Avenue Records’ debut, “Global Warming,” released Friday, that will inflame naysayers who deny climate change or its impact on the environment. It’s not that kind of album. Iceland’s popular musical export is on an entirely different mission: to reset minds using instrumental tunes to bring back love, peace and understanding to the world. Reteaming with his collaborator and friend of more than four decades, two-time Grammy®-winning producer Paul Brown, the keyboardist also known as Jakob Magnusson reenters the U.S. marketplace with the first radio single, “Still Boppin’ Along,” a jazz-funk strut.             

“’Global Warming’ is all about spreading the positive, showing empathy and warming up to one another, regardless of place of origin, faith, color of skin or political views. This album is not about climate changes and environmental threats. It is about old and new friends coming together to ignite warm human emotions, seeking to counterbalance all the negativity, the conflicts and threats we´re witnessing in so many places around the globe,” Magnet explained. 

Magnet’s message of harmony is ingrained in the DNA of the nine new compositions he wrote with Brown after the two reconnected at a 2012 jazz festival held in the world’s northernmost capital of Reykjavik where the famed Fender Rhodes keyboardist is based. The pair has roots dating back over forty years when as teenagers, Magnet - then Magnusson - moved into the Brown family home in the suburbs of Los Angeles. “Still Boppin’ Along,” which gets a boost from contemporary jazz hornmen Rick Braun and Elan Trotman on trumpet and saxophone, was originally penned decades ago during the duo’s pre-fame days yet it is thematically suited to the tone of “Global Warming.” Brown, who plays guitar throughout the session, lends an American vibe to Magnet’s Euro-leaning pop-jazz-blues-rock predilections. Magnet and Brown’s “Global Warming” set list is heavily influenced by music from the Mojo Triangle – New Orleans, Nashville and Memphis. 

As Magnet describes it, “The music is inspired by the early European composers who developed the harmony and styles that later became the foundation of the musical language developed around New Orleans at the turn of the 20th Century when jazz was born. From VivaldiChopin and Mendelson to Duke EllingtonMiles Davis and Joseph Zawinul.” 
Magnet’s impassioned and lyrical keyboards emote vibrant and joyous melodies, paint poetic and ethereal reflections, and stir emotions with storming sermons. Brown’s sister, Kathy Brown-Babylon, gets in on the act with vocal embellishments on “From The Other Side,” an aptly-titled song that she wrote with her late husband, Elton John’s longtime bassist Guy Babylon. Paul Brown was a bandmate of Magnet’s in a British blues-rock group long ago fronted by Long John Baldry for which Magnet served as a replacement for the original keyboardist, Reg Dwight, who became Elton John. Also performing on the cut is the late drummer Ricky Lawson.                     

Magnet has cultivated a diverse recording catalogue that boasts jazz notables Stanley ClarkeFreddie HubbardTom Scott and Richard Elliot as well as pop superstars Elton John and Phil Collins. A colorful and charismatic multimedia talent in his native Iceland, he starred in and produced the country’s biggest film in box office history, “Með allt á hreinu (On Top),” and currently serves as a celebrity judge on television’s “Iceland’s Got Talent.” For more information, please visit

“Global Warming” contains the following songs:

“Still Boppin’ Along”
“Funk It Up”
“A Simple Love”
“Strut Yo Stuff”
From The Other Side”
“Compared To Who?”
“Bourbon Street Boogie”

When The Bough Breaks In Theaters September 9

John and Laura Taylor (Morris Chestnut and Regina Hall) are a young, professional couple who desperately want a baby. After exhausting all other options, they finally hire Anna (Jaz Sinclair), the perfect woman to be their surrogate but as she gets further along in her pregnancy, so too does her psychotic and dangerous fixation on the husband. The couple becomes caught up in Anna’s deadly game and must fight to regain control of their future before it’s too late.

Directed By: Jon Cassar

Written By: Jack Olsen 

Produced By: Bob Shaye & Michael Lynne

Executive Producer: Morris Chestnut, Dylan Selletrs, Glenn S. Gainor

The film stars Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Romany Malco, Michael K. Williams with Theo Rossi and introducing Jaz Sinclair