Monday, August 29, 2016

Uncle Darrow's Hosts Baton Rouge Fundraiser

(l-r) Anthony BegoniaDirector Entertainment Salvation Army, Kashif,
singer/songwriter/producer, Joshua Ledet, singer, American Idol finalist, 
Ro Brooks (Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots), 
Norwood J. Clark, CEO/President of Uncle Darrow’s Inc. & ReUnite America and Lt. Col Kyle Smith.


(Carson, CA)  -- People from all over the Los Angeles area, along with celebrities came to Darrow’s New Orleans Grill to support ReUnite America and The Salvation Army’s “Baton Rouge Flood Relief Fundraiser”.  Over a thousand dollars was put in The Salvation Army’s kettle and money is still being donated in the GoFundMe and The Salvation Army’s website.  The day was filled with enjoying the taste of good food, drink and music in the Louisiana tradition! 

Norwood J. Clark, CEO/President of Uncle Darrow’s Inc., a first generation family business, based in Los Angeles has always been heavily drawn to his Louisiana roots, has a plan for Los Angeles to do something about this natural disaster to help over 40,000 victims left homeless from the devastating flood.  

Darrow’s New Orleans Grill has partnered with The Salvation Army and Grammy Award Winner, singer/songwriter and producer Kashif's Team I Care Foundation to spearhead this Herculean effort.   They are planning a Bayou Aid Concert as one of the fundraisers.  Currently Kashif and friends have committed to the concert.

As they coordinate the concert event, the need is immediate to get funds to the Salvation Army so they can provide assistance to the area.    

About Baton Rouge & 5 Parish Floods 2016
Called the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Hurricane Sandy, the current statistics say that a staggering 6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rainwater poured onto the earth over a five parish area in Baton Rouge in only one week causing some $30 million dollars in property damage and to date, the loss of 13 lives. Striking quickly, ferociously and somewhat unexpectedly, one part of Livingston Parish took on more than 31 inches of rainwater in 15 hours.

As ReUnite America did after Hurricane Katrina, they are mobilizing and galvanizing the abilities of those who can make a heart-felt donation to help and assist their neighbors, friends and relatives in Louisiana during their time of tremendous need.  Currently, it is estimated that some 40,000 people have been temporarily or permanently displaced.  At least 7,000 are still living in temporary shelters provided by the Salvation Army.   Many of the survivors have lost everything they had.

About ReUnite America
Based on the clarion call to be responsible humanitarians and citizens who care for all humanity, "ReUnite America" was founded in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  As their grass roots mission, ReUnite America was established to marshal resources needed to bring hope, comfort and stability to those who are adversely impacted by natural disasters. 

You can still join the movement by making a donation in the following ways:

http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods

From your mobile device, text STORM to 51555 and you’ll be taken to a link to donate

Donate By Phone:  1-800-SALARMY(1-800-725-2769)

Photo credit: Donna Dymally Photography

Coming Of Age 'Kicks' Is Justin's Tipping Point



By Darlene Donloe

When he was 16-years-old, not only did Justin Tipping get “the shit” beat out of him, he had his white on white on white Jordan’s jacked.

Fast forward and Tipping is the director and co-writer of Kicks, an inner city, coming-of-age, story about Brandon (Jahking Guillory) who, after saving for his first pair of Jordan’s, gets them jacked by a ruthless street gang lead by a brutal thug named Flaco (Kofi Siriboe).

In a dangerous move, Brandon, 15, accompanied by his two best friends, Rico and Albert (Christopher Meyer and Christopher Jordan Wallace respectively) attempts to reclaim his Kicks.

This is Tipping’s feature film debut. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing. In fact, just the opposite. The Oakland, CA native has already won a Student Academy Award (NANI) and the Lexus Short Film competition.

Kicks opens in theaters Sept. 9, 2016.

Justin Tipping

I recently caught up with Tipping at The London in West Hollywood, to discuss the film.

DD: This movie was inspired by a short story you wrote after a similar event took place.  Tell me about it.

JT: Yes, I was 16 and I was actually in a part of town I wasn’t supposed to be in. I wanted to see a movie. I talk to friends now and they say, “Yeah, I got jumped there too.” There was a theater, and an arcade there. Other people I knew got jumped there, too. I was parked in the back and walking toward the theater when it happened. I saw about 10 kids approaching me. The first thing I heard was “Oh, he got the white on white on white.” I knew what was up and I had nowhere to go. I got a classic stomp out and beat down. It was everything you think would happen. You black out and you’re on the ground. It’s a weird experience.

DD:  Wow!  So this is what inspired you to write this story?

JT: What really inspired me was the fallout of that and the kid the next day saying, “You got fucked up” and laughing about it. They knew I got the shit kicked out of me. My older bother looked at me and said, ‘You’re ok, you’re a man now. I was proud and deeply saddened at the same time. In retrospect, it’s so sad. I don’t understand why masculinity is associated with violence. I wanted to explore why that is. There is this social construct that we as a society have built.  We tell men it’s not ok to cry. We tell them violence is the answer. All of it contributes to this circle of violence. I was part of that too. As a kid I was trying to figure out how to be cool and stand up for yourself. That mixture now results in kids dying over shoes, Ipods, Ipads and jewelry. It’s sad. Society has told us what to say and feel.  The kids in Kicks were born into that. This is how the world works. Be dominant or dominate.

DD: For you personally, what does it mean to be a man?

JT: You define yourself as a man in how you treat women. I want to be as authentic to the world as possible. The kid characters in Kicks have never been with a girl before, but they know to be cool they have to make people believe they have. Man up should be associated with man up and walk away. Man up and take the beating. Even if confronted with violence, react by not reacting. That’s it you have the power to end the cycle.
Cast of Kicks

DD: When you were writing the script, did you see the character’s faces?   What did you see?

JT: I actually knew a Flaco and an Uncle Marlon. Most of the characters in the film are inspired by my family and friends. I left a lot of the races open while writing and casting. If you were a hood you were a hood. Originally Rico was hood. While in the casting process, I needed to be authentic to a specific world. I opened it up to let all races read. You learn quickly that there is a lack of diversity in casting – period.  I was in John Singleton’s office when I met these three kids. They were immediately best friends. You cast around that.

DD:  The Bay area is like an additional character.

JT: Yeah, I fought for that for a long time. There were moments when I was told I could go to Detroit where there are bigger tax cuts.  No one shoots in the East Bay. It was another character for me.  Someone trying to find their voice and story. It was important for me to shoot there. I have family and friends there. The community was so supportive. It was a community drive experience. I think there is something really special about Richmond and Oakland. Berkeley raised me. They are all unique.

DD: How long was the process of producing this movie and what was the 'Tipping' point?
  
JT: I actually had this idea in 2009. I was about to go into AFI (American Film Institute) for my master’s degree in directing. I had no idea I was going to be doing this. I got in. It was like go in with two ideas to pitch. They were looking for short films. I came into AFI the night before and I wrote out the story of NANI. I pitched Kicks in the room. Because of the Academy Award, people took me seriously.


DD: What is the take away from this movie?

JT:  I think the big take away for me is when the screen cuts to black and the audience leaves. It would be overwhelming.  It needs to remind people that this happens everyday. It’s even more prevalent than in 1985. For some reason people dismiss it. Even the way reporters talk about it is condescending. The reporters are in $600 outfits talking about kids and their high-priced shoes. That’s not solving the problem. I want people to walk in the character’s shoes.

DD: You probably could have done any script with any number of characters.

JT: Yes, but this community was under represented. You don’t see them on screen. It was important to shed light on the cycle of violence. I don’t know if I was conscious of it at the time. I hope it illustrated that the cycle of poverty is connected with the cycle of violence.  Lets talk about what it means to be a man. Does anyone deserve to die over that.

DD:  What were some of the challenges in writing and directing this film?

JT: The biggest challenge was working with actual teenagers. From a production standpoint, you don’t have as much time on set. It’s challenging to schedule around that when you don’t have a lot of money. It was run and gun sometimes. Getting financing was a challenge.  People were like – ‘Justin, you just wrote a Rated R coming-of-age story with all unknowns, no celebrities – and all people of color. The reality of the situation is what financiers are going to bet on that movie. I went into it knowing that. I’m very proud that we stuck with it and made it the way we wanted to make it. It didn’t get forced to cast Jaden Smith.  It’s hard to find investors. It took time but I’m grateful and blessed.

Kicks, directed by Justin Tipping, original screenplay by Tipping and Joshua Beirne-Golden, stars Jahking Guillory, Christopher Meyer, CJ Wallace, Kofi Siriboe and Mahershala Ali.



Saturday, August 27, 2016

Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA Host 4th Annual Dynamic & Diverse Emmy Celebration




By Darlene Donloe

The Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA recently hosted their annual Dynamic & Diverse reception at the newly redesigned Television Academy headquarters in North Hollywood.

Hundreds of industry colleagues, celebrities and execs attended the soiree to celebrate this year's Primetime Emmy Awards® nominees. For the first time in Academy history, performers of color appear in every leading actor category.

Along with saluting the Emmy nominations, DYNAMIC & DIVERSE is also an opportunity to mix and mingle with the community of people of color representing the entertainment industry.

Created in 2013 from an idea by Sharon Liggins, who was an Academy governor at the time, DYNAMIC & DIVERSE has become an annual fixture during the Academy’s Emmy Awards nomination festivities. 

(l-r) John Marshall Jones, Hal Williams and Petri Hawkins Byrd


Jason George (Grey's Anatomy)

Television Academy Diversity Committee Co-chairs 
(l-r) Hayma 'Screech' Washington and Rickey Minor.  

Celebrities in attendance included: Hal Williams (227), Malcolm Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show), Aloe Blacc, Jessie Usher (Survivor’s Remorse), Timon Duckett (Queen Sugar/OWN), Yvette Nicole Brown (Odd Couple/CBS), Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead/AMC), J August Richards (Notorious/ABC), Garcelle Beauvais (Spider-Man), Yvonne Orji of Issa Rae's upcoming HBO series Insecure, Dale Godboldo (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story), Chris Williams, Hudson Yang and Ian Chen (Fresh Off the Boat), Lou Gossett, Lisa Vidal, John Marshall Jones, Niecy Nash, LaMonde Byrd and Petri Hawkins Byrd.

Shirley Gossett and Lou Gossett

Aloe Blacc


Jessie Usher

Lisa Vidal



#DynamicandDiverse

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Kool & The Gang Still Funky After All These Years


Ronald Bell, George Brown, Dennis Thomas and Robert 'Kool' Bell


By Darlene Donloe

Robert Kool Bell lives up to his name.

He’s about as kool as they come.

He’s laid back. He’s spirited. He’s funny. He’s grounded. He still gets excited about music. And after more than 50 years of making music with the legendary Kool & The Gang, he’ll be the first to tell you, he is still funky.  The other band members of the group include his brother, Ronald Bell, George Brown and Dennis Thomas.

At the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles this weekend, Bell and the group, who started as teens in Jersey City, will perform the last show of their Keepin’ The Funk Alive summer tour with a bill that includes Bootsy Collins, Morris Day & The Time and Doug E. Fresh.

I recently caught up with Bell, 66, to talk about the upcoming show and the group’s incredibly successful decades-long ride into music history.

DD:  What can fans expect at the Microsoft Theater?

RKB: It’s going to be a high-energy show.  After all it is the Keepin’ The Funk Alive show.  The show has Bootsy, Morris Day & The Time and Doug E Fresh. We all have great camaraderie. This is the last show for the tour. We will be getting down hard.

DD: How has the response been from fans – regarding the tour?

RKB: It’s been great, just great! You know, Bootsy and I have been talking about funk like this for some years. We also talked about recording something together soon. The tour has been successful because everybody is straight on the funk.

DD: You have a new song on the radio called, Sexy (where'd you get yours). Tell me about the song.

RKB: It’s been over 10 years since we had a record out. To me, Sexy is like the answer for Ladies Night. Now we’re asking the ladies where you get your sexy from. Do you get it from your mama.

DD: Where do you think women get the sexy?

RKB: Most of the time it’s their mother. But it can also be from their sexy daddy.

DD: The band’s new album is due to drop in early 2017.   What is it called?
RKB: Yes, yes it is. Legacy is the working title.
DD: What can we expect?
RKB: It’s gonna be more of the same with two or three ballads. We have a track called, Leave It On The Dance Floor – it has a heavy Kool & The Gang groove.  When you hear it you will think of Bruno Mars. But Bruno Mars must have thought of us.
DD: How many tracks on the new CD?
RKB: About 14. Three or four of them are ballads. The rest is funk. There is a Sam Cooke vibe. Sam Cook with a Kool & The Gang twist.
DD:  Why so long between CDs? 
RKB:  That’s because we’re been touring a lot. It’s a sign of the times. We needed time to put it together. We did many tours in Europe, Africa, Asia and Russia. We spend time working a lot. We did do a Christmas album – but that took us six years.
DD: Talk about the power of music.

RKB: I think you can look and see how music has been around. Music is powerful for different situations. I mean look at Celebration. Celebration has been played for a lot of things. I hear it was played for the astronauts on the space station. It was played during the hostage crisis when the hostages came back from Iran. It’s been played at many Super Bowl and NBA games. Just think about We Are The World – when Michael [Jackson] and Lionel [Richie]
put out that song it was for salvation around the world. Think about the music of Earth Wind & Fire and Stevie Wonder. They’ve all had some wonderful music. Music is powerful.



DD: What does music do for you personally?

RKB: It energizes me. I travel around the world and we play for different audiences. Even when they don’t know English – they understand the music. It works. It speaks to the power of music. It’s a healing force.

DD: How has the group changed over the years?

RKB:In the 60s we were young and learning how to play music.  John Coletrane, Freddie Hubbard, Miles Davis and Motown were all early influences.

DD: To what do you attribute the longevity of the group? You’ve been touring for 43 years.

RKB: I would tell you – it’s building a fan base and hitting the road in the early days. In the 70s we would go out with Delfonics and the Intruders all on one bus. It was about building. We realized that we had to develop a show. When our first record came out in 1969 we went to the Apollo Theater.  There was a group called Willie Feaster and the Mighty Magnificents. They were so good, they ran us back to Jersey City. They had a show. They had a real act. We had a record, but they had a show. We went back and put a show together.

DD: Touring is hard.  How do you handle touring?

RKB: Whether we’re on a bus or on a plane, we do a lot of flying.  I try to relax by working out. I walk about two or three miles. I stay active. The good thing about touring is when you come back home to your family. There is always energy when you return. It’s always great to come back and share your experiences.

DD:  Does this ever get old to you?

RKB: Yes and no. Of course we get tired and want to slow down a bit. Your family always wants you to be home. The wife wants me to be home. The fan base is out there. Fortunately we have so many fans that demand our attention. We have fans in China, Australia and all over the world.   When we get there and see the energy and see how they react to our music, even with a language barrier, they remember how music makes them feel.

DD: You’ve had a lot of hits. What is your favorite hit and why?
RKB: I would have to say Ladies Night because back in the 70s my wife and I would hang out in the clubs like Studio 64. There was always a ladies night for the weekend. Every night there is a Ladies Night all around the world.
DD: Have you ever considered changing your sound to keep up with today’s music?

RKB: Well, yes and no. We played around with some different styles. We had some songs that had a rock edge. We also had some that was kind of country and western. But these are songs in the catalog. We are only thinking about it right now. My brother wrote a song called Harley Davidson. It’s guitar driven. We might put it on the upcoming CD called Legacy.

DD: Your thoughts on today’s music?

RKB: Some of the young acts today – their styles are like the 80s, ya know?  I like Usher and Joe. You’ve got the flavor of the 80s in today’s music. The millennials don’t know where the music came from. It sounds like old Temptations or Stevie Wonder music. Today’s music is inspired by us. We are thankful for that.

DD: What singers/groups are you most impressed with today?

RKB: Mint Condition because they are musicians. I like their style.  Usher has been successful. Kem, I like what he’s doing.

DD: Describe your life if you couldn’t create music.

RKB: That’s a good question. When I was younger my mother and grandmother told me my grandfather always had me under a car with him. I’m from Ohio, but in 1960 we moved to Jersey. I remember I took
a lawn mower motor and put it on a bike when I was about nine years old. I could have been a mechanic.
My father was a top 5 featherweight. His name was Bobby Bell. He was a fighter. He had me boxing for one year. I was 11. I couldn’t get with that.

DD:  Anything you want your fans to know about?

RKB: I am working in solar energy. I’m working with the Chicago Institute of Technology. I’m talking to some people about solar energy. There is sustainable energy in Africa. Look at Africa. There is 80 percent sun all the time.  I’m in the process of just bringing people to the table right now. I’m doing the introductions. I’m doing this because solar energy is clean. It’s the way of the future. Klean energy is Kool.

DD: Kool & the Gang has sold over 70 million albums worldwide and influenced the music of three generations. You’ve earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums. What’s left?
RKB: We still haven’t written our story yet. The Kool & The Gang story. It’s going to be called - Hollywood Swinging: The Kool & The Gang Story.  It will be a musical maybe something like Mamma Mia! or Jersey Boys. We should be able to do a musical.  Then we’ll ride off into the sunset.
Keepin’ The Funk Alive, Kool & The Gang with Bootsy Collins (Bootsy’s Rubber Band), Doug E. Fresh, Morris Day & the Time; 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 28, $49.50-$99.50; (213) 763-6020; Microsoft Theater, 777 Chick Hearn Ct, Los Angeles, CA


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cafe Mocha Radio and Toyota To Honor Women



Café Mocha, the #1 nationally-syndicated radio show for women of color, will continue its 2016 Salute Her series: Beauty of Diversity Awards presented by Toyota this summer and fall, and will make stops in Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago. 

Café Mocha launched the annual Salute Her Awards series in 2011 to recognize dynamic Black and Latino women who have made contributions to their communities, and have successfully broken down barriers with their businesses. 

The 2016 Salute Her: Beauty of Diversity Awards series kicked off this year in Atlanta, and honored actress Kim Fields, music executive Shanti Das and blogger/philanthropist Jasmine Crowe, among others.

Toyota, committed to green living and bettering the environment, will present a special Café Mocha Salute Her Award to outstanding women at the remaining stops on the tour who exemplify the goal of the company's sustainability campaign, the Toyota Green Initiative. The initiative promotes sustainability awareness and education in African-American communities across the country. The first to receive the Toyota Green Initiative award will be Washington, D.C. businesswoman Jerri Evans, founder of Turning Natural, a juice bar created to help people live holistic, healthy lives. 

Partnering with Café Mocha Radio provides a unique opportunity for the Toyota Green Initiative to expand the reach of its message to women across the nation who can become sustainability champions in their own communities and homes.

"From the DIY sister to the hybrid cruising fashionista, Toyota salutes every woman who is making smart choices not only for herself, but also for the environment," said Alva Adams-Mason, Director of African American Business Strategy, Toyota USA.

"I am pleased to have Toyota and its sustainability campaign, Toyota Green Initiative, join Café Mocha as we educate and engage women on the importance of sustainable living," says executive producer Sheila Eldridge. "Sustainable living is a topic rarely touched on in our communities, yet it is important that we as a community begin to have conversations about ways to protect our Earth and ensure future generations have the resources needed to live healthy lives."

Past honorees for Salute Her include talk show host Wendy Williams, activist Sybrina Fulton, R&B star Angie Stone, model/reality TV star Cynthia Bailey, media veteran Jamie Foster Brown, soul superstar Syleena Johnson, cultural arts pioneer Vy Higginsen, actress/humanitarian Sheryl Lee Ralph, civil rights activist Dr. Bernice King, actress/producer Terri J. Vaughn, and CNN anchors Michaela Pereira and Fredricka Whitfield, among others.  Most recently the Salute Her Awards were featured on a recent episode of the BET reality series, "It's a Mann's World" with honoree gospel music megastar Tamela Mann and her husband, comedian David Mann.


Affectionately known as 'radio from a woman's perspective" Café Mocha reaches 1.2 million listeners in nearly 30 markets, including cities like New York (WBLS-107.5 FM); Washington, DC (WHUR-96.3 FM); Chicago (WSRB-106.3 FM); and Atlanta (WAMJ-107.5 FM); to name a few. Café Mocha Radio can also be heard on SiriusXM's HUR Voices Channel 141.


ABOUT TOYOTA

Toyota (NYSE:TM), the world's top automaker and creator of the Prius and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands. Over the past 50 years, we've built more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 42,000 people (more than 33,000 in the U.S.). In 2014, our 1,800 North American dealerships (1,500 in the U.S.) sold more than 2.67 million cars and trucks (more than 2.35 million in the U.S.) - and about 80 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 20 years are still on the road today.    Toyota partners with philanthropic organizations across the country, with a focus on education, safety, and the environment.  As part of this commitment, we share the company's extensive know-how garnered from building great cars and trucks to help community organizations and other nonprofits expand their ability to do good. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com

ABOUT CAFE MOCHA™ RADIO SHOW

Known as 'radio from a woman's perspective' Café Mocha is built on the concept of women helping other women to grow through shared experiences and information. Syndicated by Westwood One in more than 30 markets and on SiriusXM channel 141, the show airs weekends with comedienne and host of TV's "The Real," Loni Love; broadcast veteran, Angelique Perrin; and its newest addition, female rap icon YoYo. The two-hour girlfriend's guide to radio features the latest in urban music, compelling hot topics and advice from an unabashedly women's perspective.  Café Mocha also includes exclusive interviews with top recording artists, celebrities, politicians and those making headlines. To learn more about the show, visit www.cafemocharadio.com.