Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Marvel Universe Unites For Children's Charities

Stars of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War team up for epic charity event
counting down to the launch of movie-related products on March 3
Hasbro and Funko to support by donating millions in cash and toys
The Walt Disney Company today announced Marvel: The Universe Unites, an epic charity campaign combining the superpowers of the cast of Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War to help support children’s charities. The week-long event will see stars of the movie team up for a series of heroic acts and social media challenges to provide funds and raise awareness for charities that support children and families impacted by serious illness. The initiative will culminate the weekend of March 3 when shopDisney.com and Disney stores in the U.S. will donate 10% of sales of all Marvel products made between March 3-4, 2018 (up to $50,000) to Make-A-Wish® to help grant life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

“This movie has one of the greatest ensemble casts of all time, and we are challenging them to use their collective might to benefit children’s charities,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “We’re kicking off by inviting some of the world’s biggest stars to get creative on social media to support Starlight Children’s Foundation, a charity that works to bring joy and comfort to hospitalized children and their families.”

As part of Marvel Studios: Hero Acts, a charitable initiative launched in 2016, some members of the cast of Avengers: Infinity War will receive a special toy care package filled with new products celebrating their Marvel character to be donated to children’s hospitals.

Their mission? To take a creative picture or video to reveal the new toys to fans and post it to their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter channels using #HeroActs. When their collective posts hit a million likes, they will unlock a $250,000 US donation to Starlight Children’s Foundation® from Marvel.

“Being a Marvel Super Hero gives us a powerful platform to directly influence positive change. Giving back to kids is the most impactful role you can play,” comments Marvel Studios’ Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman. “Marvel: The Universe Unites and #HeroActs is just a fun way to support a noble cause while entertaining kids and fans around the globe.”

Marvel partners are also supporting the cause with their own #HeroActs in support of children’s charities. As part of the week’s events, Hasbro will donate $1 million US worth of cash and products to Give Kids The World, an organization that fulfills the wishes of children with critical illnesses and their families by providing them with an unforgettable trip which includes a visit to their village in Central Florida and access to Walt Disney World Resort.

Funko, known for their pop culture collectibles, will make a $1 million US toy donation to Starlight as part of the Marvel: The Universe Unites campaign.

“From our fantastic cast to our toy and retail partners, it’s great to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe come together in this way to support children’s charities,” comments Kevin Feige, President, Marvel Studios. “The launch of the products for Avengers: Infinity War is a fun way for fans to celebrate the countdown to the movie, and this initiative underscores that moment in a really special way.”

Starting March 3, new Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War products will be included in the Marvel: The Universe Unites Amazon Wish List, enabling consumers to send toys directly to Starlight.

Rounding out the week, on Saturday, March 3, and Sunday, March 4, shopDisney.com and Disney store will donate 10% of weekend Marvel product sales to Make-A-Wish® (up to $50,000 US) in support of Marvel: The Universe Unites.

# # #

About Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War
An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. 

Anthony and Joe Russo direct the film, which is produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay. “Avengers: Infinity War” releases in U.S. theaters on May 4, 2018.

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.
For more information visit marvel.com.
© 2018 MARVEL

About Make-A-Wish®
Make-A-Wish® creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We seek to bring every eligible child's wish to life because a wish is an integral part of a child's treatment journey. Research shows children who have wishes granted can build the physical and emotional strength they need to fight their illness. Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Make-A-Wish is the world’s leading children’s wish-granting organization, serving children in every community in the United States and in more than 50 countries worldwide. Together, generous donors, supporters, staff and more than 35,000 volunteers across the U.S., grant a wish every 34 minutes, on average, somewhere in the country. Since 1980, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 300,000 wishes to children in the U.S. and its territories; more than 15,400 in 2017 alone. For more information about Make-A-Wish America, visit wish.org.

About Give Kids The World
Since 1986, Give Kids The World Village has welcomed more than 159,000 families to its 84-acre “storybook” resort in Central Florida. Children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations, complete with accommodations, donated attraction tickets, meals and more.  For more about Give Kids The World, visit gktw.org.

About Starlight Children’s Foundation
Starlight creates moments of joy and comfort for hospitalized kids and their families. For 35 years, Starlight’s programs have positively impacted more than 60 million critically, chronically and terminally ill or injured children in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. With your help, more kids and their families will enjoy Starlight Gowns, Starlight Fun Centers and other Starlight programs at a children’s hospital or facility near you. Learn more and support Starlight’s work by visitingwww.starlight.org.

About Hasbro
Hasbro (NASDAQ: HAS) is a global play and entertainment company committed to Creating the World's Best Play Experiences. From toys and games to television, movies, digital gaming and consumer products, Hasbro offers a variety of ways for audiences to experience its iconic brands, including NERF, MY LITTLE PONY, TRANSFORMERS, PLAY-DOH, MONOPOLY, BABY ALIVE, and MAGIC: THE GATHERING, as well as premier partner brands. Through its entertainment labels, Allspark Pictures and Allspark Animation, the Company is building its brands globally through great storytelling and content on all screens. Hasbro is committed to making the world a better place for children and their families through corporate social responsibility and philanthropy. Hasbro ranked No. 1 on the 2017 100 Best Corporate Citizens list by CR Magazine and has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by Ethisphere Institute for the past seven years. Learn more at www.hasbro.com, and follow us on Twitter (@Hasbro & @HasbroNews) and Instagram (@Hasbro).

About Funko, Inc.
Headquartered in Everett, Washington, Funko is a leading pop culture consumer products company. Funko designs, sources and distributes licensed pop culture products across multiple categories, including vinyl figures, action toys, plush, apparel, housewares and accessories for consumers who seek tangible ways to connect with their favorite pop culture brands and characters. Learn more at HTTPS://FUNKO.COM/, and follow us on Twitter (@OriginalFunko) and Instagram (@OriginalFunko).

Sunday, February 25, 2018

25th Annual LAWTF Announces Hosts Line-Up

Ted Lange

The 25TH Annual (Silver Anniversary) Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF) has a roster of distinguished artists who will co-host four days and five programs at Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood 90027 and the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Avenue, Venice. 90291. This year’s overall theme is A Toast to 25!.

    Thursday, March 29, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.- LEGACY AND DESTINY Champagne GALA and Awards Ceremony, directed and written by Iona Morris---Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, in Hollywood.

Ted Lange- Known internationally for his portrayal of Isaac Washington on the long-running TV series The Love Boat, Lange received the Renaissance Man Theatre Award from the NAACP for his stage accomplishments as actor both on Broadway and in Los Angeles), playwright (23 plays), among them George Washington’s Boy and Lemon Meringue Façade), and director (including the recent comedy Classic Couples Counseling at the Secret Rose Theatre). His one-man show in which he portrays Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Behind the Mask, tours worldwide. He recently returned from the Ira Aldridge memorial celebration in Lodz, Poland.

Hattie Winston- Best known for her work on television (Becker, Homefront, Nurse, The Electric Company), Ms. Winston has also starred on Broadway (The Tap Dance Kid, Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Me Nobody Knows, I Love My Wife, Hair, Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, Scapino)and co-adapted Nativity: A Life Story. She was also a founding member of the Negro Ensemble Company (Song of the Lusitanian Bogey, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Kongi’s Harvest, Daddy Goodness, God Is a (Guess What?), Man Better Man, Livin’ Fat, The Michigan).

The remainder of the Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday will take place at the Electric Lodge in Venice.

Friday, March 30, 8:00 p.m.- LOVE, SEX AND #MeToo
Fay Hauser-Price has worked in many artistic genres as a writer, director, actor, singer, and producer, receiving kudos, refining her skills, and growing her audience. Hauser has been on the boards in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night as Viola, and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom as Dussie Mae. She was on the National tour of Purlie plus performances with NY Shakespeare Festival and her own solo show Jewels in the Crown. Hauser’s latest solo performance piece, Shinning Hauslights on Prejudice Alley: A Mixed Roots Conversation, is in preparation to tour.

Kat  Kramer founded Kat Kramer's Films That Change the World to showcase motion pictures that raise awareness about important social issues. As an actress, Kat has appeared on stage and screen. She has starred in two popular one-woman shows, The Colors of Myself and Kriss Krossing. Kat has played the classic roles and won awards as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, Anne Frank in The Diary Of Anne Frank, Estella in Great Expectations, Lisa in David and Lisa, and Saint Joan in The Lark.

Saturday, March 31, 3:00 p.m.- OBSESSIONS
Rosie Lee Hooks - A founding member of the musical performance ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock, she more recently appeared in the acclaimed Robey Theatre Company productions of Knock Me a Kiss and Transitions. Other stage credits include A Change Is Gonna Come, One Thousand Cranes, 227, Checkmates, and Poetry Cabaret. She is currently director of  Watts Towers Arts Center and Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center. She was a founding member of the D.C. Black Repertory Theatre Company.

Anna Maria Horsford- Anna Maria Horsford was born and raised in Harlem, New York. Her parents immigrated to the United States from the island nation Antigua & Barbuda, in the West Indies (then a British colony), during the 1940s. Anna grew up not really feeling American but not West Indian either, just somewhere in between. "My first big break came when I auditioned at the New York Shakespeare Festival." Working in many different aspects of show business has allowed her to venture into areas other than acting, such as directing. She also has an Art Institute in upstate New York. Known for her work on television (The Bold and the Beautiful, The Wayans Bros., Amen), she has also appeared on stage (Les femmes noires, Perfection in Black, A Black Quartet, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf).

Saturday, March 31, 8:00 p.m.- MY MOTHER, MY SELF
          Eloise Laws-  Celebrated award-winning vocalist and Broadway actor. Eloise's musical career has included more than 5 albums and CDs, as well as a career in the theatre where she featured in and co-developed the musical, It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, which premiered at the Denver Center Theatre Company and opened on Broadway at the Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre, garnering four Tony ® Award nominations. Ms. Laws also received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Actress in a Broadway musical and a Helen Hayes Award Nomination for her stunning performance at the Kennedy Center.

James Pickens, Jr. - Pickens has been a regular or recurring performer in a number of TV series, including Grey’s Anatomy, Roseanne, The Practice, The X-Files, Beverly Hills 90210  and Another World. With a strong stage background, he appeared with Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson in the Negro Ensemble Company production of  A Soldier’s Play and also performed with New York’s famed  Roundabout Theatre Company (A Raisin in the Sun) and Circle Repertory Company (Balm in Gilead)..

Sunday, April 1, 2018, 3:00 p.m.- ANGELS, CULTURE, AND COMING OF AGE
Sky Palkowitz- The performance artist is billed as The Delusional Diva, creating playing multiple characters in shows for children and adults. Also, classically trained, she toured 22 cities with Shakespeare By The Sea. Her latest solo show is named Calling America: Don’t Hang Up!  The recipient of an MFA from the University of Delaware, she’s been seen at Theatre of NOTE, Independent Shakespeare Company,  Highways Performance Space, Theatre Asylum, Hudson Theatre,  24th Street Theatre and other area venues.

          Joyce Guy- actress, dancer, playwright, director, and choreographer is a “military brat” raised various places in and out of the U.S.  Her solo works have been performed throughout the Los Angeles and in New York.   Recently choreographed Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs at Rogue Machine Theatre and was nominated for Ovation Award.  Currently choreographing A Raisin in the Sun at A Noise Within.  Joyce has studied West African dance over 25 years with African masters throughout the country.  Joyce is director/producer of the documentary film Dancing Like Home, her quest to Casamance, Senegal, West Africa to find the origins of the region’s dance. Her recent television appearances include roles on Criminal Minds, Colony, StartUp and Animal Kingdom.

Festival performers and honorees are the subjects of separate releases. For more information about Festival programming, please go towww.lawtf.org or call (818) 760-0408.

Friday, February 23, 2018

90th Oscars® Performers Recently Announced



LOS ANGELES, CA – Gael García Bernal, Mary J. Blige, Andra Day, Natalia LaFourcade, Miguel, Keala Settle, Sufjan Stevens and Oscar® winner Common will perform this year's nominated songs at the 90th Oscars®ceremony, show producers Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd announced today. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the Oscars will air live on Sunday, March 4, on the ABC Television Network.

“We’re excited to have these talented artists showcase the powerful contribution music makes to filmmaking,” said De Luca and Todd. “It’s a privilege to welcome them to the 90th Oscars stage.”

Bernal, LaFourcade, and Miguel will perform the Oscar-nominated song “Remember Me” from “Coco”; Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.

In addition to lending his voice to “Coco,” Bernal’s credits include the Oscar-winning films “Babel” (2006) and “The Motorcycle Diaries” (2004), as well as the Oscar-nominated films “No” (2012), “El Crimen del Padre Amaro” (2002), “Y Tu Mamá También (2002) and “Amores Perros” (2000). LaFourcade is a Mexican pop-rock singer. She’s been nominated for four Grammy Awards®, and won in 2016 for “Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album.” Miguel won a Grammy Award in 2013 for his song “Adorn,” and has been nominated an additional 10 times. He and LaFourcade teamed to record the end-credit version of “Remember Me,” with Miguel and Steve Mostyn producing.

Blige will perform “Mighty River,” from “Mudbound,” the Oscar-nominated song she co-wrote with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson. Blige is also Oscar-nominated this year for Actress in a Supporting Role for “Mudbound.” She is the first person to be nominated for both a performance and Original Song in the same year. Additionally, she has won nine Grammy Awards, having been nominated 31 times.

Common and Andra Day will perform his Oscar-nominated song “Stand Up For Something” from “Marshall”; Music by Diane Warren; Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn (Common) and Diane Warren. Common won an Oscar with John Stephens (John Legend), for Original Song for “Glory” from the film “Selma” (2014). He has received 20 Grammy Award nominations and has won three times. His recent acting credits include “John Wick: Chapter 2” (2017) and “Selma.” Day is a three-time Grammy Award nominee. Her acting credits include “Marshall” and “Cars 3” (2017).

Settle will perform the Oscar-nominated song “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman”; Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Settle is a Tony Award®-nominated singer and actress. Her film credits include “The Greatest Showman” (2017) and “Ricki and the Flash” (2015).

Stevens will perform his Oscar-nominated song “Mystery of Love,” written for “Call Me by Your Name.” Stevens is a singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. A prolific artist whose career spans nearly 20 years and 11 albums, his work has been featured on the soundtracks for “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (2016), “Demolition” (2015) and the Oscar-winning film “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), among others.

The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center®in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.  The Oscars, produced by De Luca and Todd and hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, also will be televised in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.  Additionally, “The Oscars: All Access” live stream from the red carpet and backstage will begin at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on Oscar.com.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Eric Valentine's Latest Release Is 'Velvet Groove'

Valentine’s Day has deeper meaning this year for Eric Valentine, who released his long-in-the-works labor of love, Velvet Groove, on Wednesday. The Matcha Entertainment collection of soul-soaked urban grooves and sophisticated contemporary jazz sounds is the first release from the drummer-multi-instrumentalist-songwriter-producer’s Velvet Groove, a creative community of musicians and recording artists spreading love and positivity through music and collaboration. Valentine produced the set constructed by more than forty musicians, including an enclave of distinguished chart-toppers such as trumpeter Rick Braun and saxophonist Richard Elliot, who are the featured soloists on the title track, which is presently No. 3 on the Billboard chart.

Valentine is a first-call drummer for many of the brightest stars in smooth/contemporary jazz, which is why so many accomplished players were eager to join the Velvet Groove sessions. He composed nine songs for the platter illuminated by Grammy-winning saxman Kirk Whalum, multiple Grammy-nominated sax player Gerald Albright, and solo hit-makers Adam Hawley, Elan Trotman, Brian Simpson and Greg Manning.  R&B singer B. Valentine seduces in lead and background vocal roles while pianist Wayne Linsey, guitarists Kay-Ta Matsuno and Alex Machacek, and percussionist Lenny Castro, Munyungo Jackson, and Ramon Islas texturize the ten songs plus three reprises.

A Washington, DC native and long-time Los Angeles resident, Valentine sees Velvet Groove as the launch of a movement, a reboot of old-school record making where multiple artists are in the studio playing, recording, communicating and collaborating on each other’s albums all at the same time like they did at Motown and Philadelphia International Records, but with a modern touch. Valentine’s mission for Velvet Groove is to spread “love, joy, and happiness” and use their “musical gifts to inspire people to choose kindness and uplift people to a better place.” Valentine anticipates releasing other projects from the musical cooperative this year, including a disc from B. Valentine, his wife who sings lead on the album’s retro cut “Back in the Day,” which is the featured “First Listen” track this week on the SoulTracks site.

On March 25, Valentine will take the stage to helm his Velvet Groove unit at their live concert premiere during an album release celebration spaghettini, south of Los Angeles. 

The Velvet Groove album is available now around the world from http://smarturl.it/VelvetGroove. For additional information, please visitwww.VelvetGrooveMusic.com.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Fifty Shades Freed Is Anti-Climactic: A Review

By Darlene Donloe

Fifty Shades Freed, the final installment of the Fifty Shades franchise (the other two came out in 2015 and 2017), wraps up this naughty ménage a trois romp. 

Opening February 9, in theaters nationwide, the film’s main characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, continue their story of sex anytime-anywhere. This time there is a real element of danger. Well, kind of real.

Unfortunately, this film lacks pizazz and spunk. It’s shallow. The sex scenes aren’t very sexy, the intrigue is lacking, the danger is almost laughable. The film just doesn’t connect in any real way. It’s not memorable in any way. It’s the least sexy film in the trilogy, which is a waste.  They lost their shot!

The drama, released just in time for Valentine’s Day, tries to bring the story to a conclusion by revealing why a bad guy has been hell-bent on destroying Christian and Anastasia’s otherwise blessed and opulent life.

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan 

After finally getting married, experiencing a lavish honeymoon and finally settling into a wedded bliss routine, Ana’s old boss rears his ugly head again in an effort to seek revenge for a decades-long vendetta against Christian, whom he thinks stole a life that should have been his.  It’s a bit convoluted.  The climax (pun intended) is much too weak. It should have been drawn out to an intense conclusion.

Nothing else to say!

Fifty Shades Freed comes to a disappointing end!

 Fifty Shades Freed, based on the novel by E L James, is directed by James Foley and stars Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Academy Award® winner Marcia Gay Harden, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Luke Grimes, Victor Rasuk, Jennifer Ehle, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Callum Keith Rennie, Bruce Altman, Robinne Lee, Arielle Kebbel and Brant Daugherty.  The screenplay is by Niall Leonard.

Fifty Shades Freed is Rated R (for strong sexual content, nudity, and language)

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likable), O (oh, yeah) and E (excellent), Fifty Shades Freed gets an L (likable).