July 25, 2013
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A judge in Jamaica has dropped a murder case against one of island’s biggest dancehall stars.
Vybz Kartel and two other men will not face trial in the death of businessman Barrington Burton after a judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence.
Kartel, however, still faces a murder trial scheduled to start in November for the August 2011 killing of a Jamaican man named Clive “Lizard” Williams. Police have said that Williams was beaten to death at Kartel’s home and that the body has never been found.
Kartel’s real name is Adijah Palmer. He has been in custody for nearly two years. He is known for his violent, X-rated lyrics and is considered one of the top performers in the brash reggae-rap hybrid of dancehall.
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) — The Coast Guard says singer Kelly Rowland was among the passengers on a private boat escorted back to Cape Cod after the captain became disoriented.
Lt. Ruairi White tells the Cape Cod Times that the boat's captain was following a commercial whale-watching vessel Friday, lost sight of the boat and became disoriented north of Provincetown.
The Coast Guard directed a commercial towboat operator to escort the private vessel back to Provincetown.
TowBoat U.S. Provincetown says on its Facebook page that the boat was 33 miles north of Provincetown. It says the passengers "were great. Just a little shook up."
Rowland is a founding member of Destiny's Child, where Beyonce got her start. The group briefly reunited this year when Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce for a Super Bowl performance.
By RYAN PEARSON
Hours after President Barack Obama delivered remarks about Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial, Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson addressed the racially charged case at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Foxx was at the massive pop culture convention to promote his role as the villain Electro in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Holding his 4-year-old daughter Annalise, who wore a Spider-Man backpack and shoes, Foxx said he was “disappointed” in the July 13 not guilty verdict in Florida.
He had been among the most vocal celebrities expressing support for Martin’s family, having met the teen’s mother Sybrina Fulton at an awards show.
“She’s always been courageous in saying this has never been about race. She said it’s about 17-year-old kids. We have to protect our kids. So I stand with her forever,” Foxx said.
“It was great to see Bruce Springsteen in Ireland dedicate a song to Trayvon. I think that’s what really makes it universal in the fact that we know that there's race involved, but to see all races coming together and saying that hey, there's something wrong,” Foxx said. “There’s something wrong when a 17-year-old child is on his way home and someone with a gun pursues him and he ends up losing his life.”
Foxx said Martin’s case was part of an “epidemic” of gun violence in the US.
“When you look at Sandy Hook and Aurora and all these different things where we’re losing our children. Chicago — 67 kids, people killed in a week — we have an epidemic,” he said. “And it’s up to us as the grown folks to be smart enough and intelligent and nice to each other to have a difference of opinion, but also understand that we have to come to a solution.”
Samuel L. Jackson was also on hand at the convention, promoting the remake of “RoboCop.” He said he'd been out of the country for much of the trial and during the verdict, but expected the result.
“I’m not really surprised by it considering the way the case was presented and the representation that the family had, and the portrayals that they put out there of the kid and how peoples’ attitudes are about those particular things,” Jackson said.
Still, he said, he was “encouraged by the attitude of people after the verdict, that people are willing to stand up and take a stand and get out in the streets, and let their voices be heard.”
By MARK KENNEDY
Dule Hill will be tapping into his dancing roots when he joins Broadway’s “After Midnight,” a musical celebrating Duke Ellington’s years at the famous Cotton Club nightclub in Harlem.
Producers said Wednesday the actor and trained tap dancer best known for starring in USA’s hit detective series “Psych,” will play the host of the show, presenting the sound and glamor of the Harlem Renaissance.
Performances start Oct. 18 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, with an official opening night set for Nov. 3.
Hill was last on Broadway as Spoon, a lawyer-turned-budding novelist, in Lydia R. Diamond’s thoughtful family drama “Stick Fly” in 2011. Hill joins the already announced Grammy Award- and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino in the lively show that will feature 17 musicians and 25 vocalists and dancers.
Emmy Award-nominated for his work as Charlie Young on “The West Wing,” Hill first came to prominence as The Kid opposite Savion Glover and Jeffrey Wright in “Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk.” Born and raised in New Jersey, Hill began attending dance school when he was 3 and received his first break years later as the understudy to Glover in “The Tap Dance Kid” on Broadway.
Directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle with musical direction by Wynton Marsalis, the show appeared off-Broadway last year at New York City Center under the name “Cotton Club Parade.” Songs include “Stormy Weather,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
Hill may get a work-out in the show, which off-Broadway had no fewer than 24 numbers with dancing that included the Savoy swing and the Charleston. Veteran singer and dancer Brandon Victor Dixon played the role at New York City Center.
Legendary performers such as the Nicholas Brothers, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters and a teenage Lena Horne all performed at the Cotton Club in the 1920s. The music and dancing will be augmented by Langston Hughes poetry.
July 18, 2013
By Kam Williams
LAWT Contributing Writer
Born in Oakland, California on May 23, 1986, Ryan Coogler attended college on a football scholarship, playing wide receiver as an undergrad before earning his MFA in Film and Television Production at the University of Southern California in 2011. He worked as a security guard and as a counselor to inmates at a juvenile prison in San Francisco before getting his big break with the help of Forest Whitaker.
The Oscar-winning actor agreed to produce Ryan’s first feature film, Fruitvale Station, a bittersweet biopic chronicling the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old black man shot in the back by a cop on a train platform in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day 2009. The case became a cause célèbre because the killing was caught on camera by numerous passengers.
Here, Ryan talks about his critically-acclaimed writing and directorial debut, which has already won awards at both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals.
LAWT: Congratulations on winning at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals. That’s pretty impressive for a first-time filmmaker. Your picture’s star, Michael B. Jordan, told me Fruitvale received a very long standing ovation at Cannes. What did that feel like?
RC: Just playing at Cannes was overwhelming, man. It was one of those moments I never imagined happening. I think a lot of the response was due to the audience’s connecting to the cast. The performances were incredible! I really felt happy for my actors, especially Michael [B. Jordan], Melonie [Diaz] and Octavia [Spencer]. None of them had ever been to Cannes before. They were really moved to have their work embraced like that. And it was very moving to me how this story that I wanted to relate about a real event that had happened in my hometown managed to touched people thousands of miles away.
LAWT: What interested you in making the movie?
RC: The incident itself and what happened immediately afterwards in the Bay area, which is where I was born and raised. I heard about the tragedy almost immediately after it happened, because I was home on Christmas break from film school. Then it was on the news, and I still remember the first time I saw the footage on the internet. I was very emotionally affected by it. Everybody in the Bay was. There were protests and rallies and riots. I saw myself in Oscar. We were the same age, he looked like me, and we wore the same type of clothes. Seeing someone getting shot like that, and not getting a chance to say goodbye to his loved ones was painful. I couldn’t imagine myself in that situation. With my being a filmmaker, I wondered whether there was a way I could do something. My mind immediately goes to that, whenever I’m affected by anything, since film is my outlet. Then, I saw how the incident got politicized, and how Oscar became a symbol, this icon, a martyr who had never done anything wrong in his life to some people, and how he was demonized by others as a criminal and a thug who got what he deserved. In truth, he was neither one of those things. He was just a normal person who had both flaws and good qualities. So, I wanted to tell his story from the perspective of the people he meant the most to and who knew him the best.
LAWT: Have you ever experienced racial profiling yourself?
RC: Yes, absolutely! The most recent situation happened one night while I was just minding my business, sitting in a car with a friend in Albany, California. The police rolled up on us and told me and her to get out of the car and sit on the wet sidewalk because there had been a robbery and I fit the description of the suspect. It was cold, and we had to just sit there shivering for about 30 minutes until I guess whoever it was that got robbed finally arrived and told the police from across the street that I wasn’t the guy.
LAWT: What sort of research did you do prior to writing the script? Did you interview any witnesses? The police? Oscar’s friends and family?
RC: I started by helping Oscar’s family’s lawyer organize some of the video footage that got turned in to the prosecutor’s office for the trial. That was really comprehensive. Then I pretty much interviewed anyone who had a meaningful relationship with Oscar, all of his friends and family members. That’s where the three-dimensionality of his character in the script came from. I was also able to bring the actors around his neighborhood, and they got to spend time with the characters they were portraying: his girlfriend, his mom, and the friends he was on the platform with the night he was shot. I based my decisions on all of that research.
LAWT: Did the police cooperate with the project?
RC: No, we left the cops alone. Most of them no longer work as police officers. They were only a very small portion of the film, and we had their court testimony, which we felt was enough.
LAWT: The officer who shot Oscar was only convicted of manslaughter. Your star, Michael, still characterized it as a murder. Which do you feel it was?
RC: To be honest, I think people can make up their own minds about the legal terminology. You can call it whatever you want, but regardless, a young man’s life was taken unnecessarily. It’s not for me to get caught up in the politics of it. What means the most to me is that he never made it back home to his loved ones.
LAWT: Why did you decide to paint a warts-and-all picture of Oscar Grant? Were you at all tempted to sanitize his image?
RC: No, I never was. It wouldn’t have made sense to make a film about Oscar and not show the struggles he was dealing with.
LAWT: What message do you hope people will take away from the picture?
RC: To me, the film is a domestic story about this 22 year-old and his relationships. It is my hope that people will see a little bit of themselves in the characters. And with that, I hope it will trigger a little bit of a thought process about how we connect to and treat each other, whether strangers or those we’re close to. Some people never come in contact with someone like Oscar, a young African-American male, at all. Their only access to his world is through media. So, I hope the film offers some insight for folks like that.
LAWT: Have you considered making a movie about the assassination of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey by members of a Black Muslim sect, which is another story of national interest? I was writing for the paper at the time, and spoke to him just a couple of days before his murder.
RC: I’m sorry to hear that, man. I followed the case and know a lot about Chauncey, and was moved by what happened. Like I said before, whenever something happens in the community, I think about it in terms of my art form.
LAWT: You originally went to college on a football scholarship. How did you make the transition from jock to film student?
RC: Initially, I was majoring in chemistry and planning to become a doctor, if football didn’t work out. But in a creative writing class, I had a professor who encouraged me to go to Hollywood and write screenplays. I thought she was a little crazy at first, since it came out of nowhere, but it stuck in my head. I later transferred schools, switched majors, and started taking a bunch of filmmaking classes. Then I went to USC film school for my graduate degree.
LAWT: Well, we’re all glad you did, Ryan. Thanks again for the time and best of luck with Fruitvale Station during Academy Awards season.
RC: Thank you, Kam.
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