November 28, 2013


Associated Press


Rihanna and her mother took center stage at the American Music Awards as the singer received the first Icon Award.

Monica Fenty presented her pop star daughter with the award midway through Sunday night’s show at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

“Can we talk about how cute Rihanna’s mom is?” Justin Timberlake asked while accepting one of his three awards, before affecting a Caribbean accent. “She’s so proud of the Icon. I am too, Rihanna, I love you.”

Fenty told Rihanna how proud she was of her daughter's success, saying, “I know the journey in your career has not always been an easy one.”

“Just about 20 years ago is when I really started making your life a living hell with my annoying little husky man voice, you would call it,” Rihanna said. “And I mean just disrupting the entire neighborhood. Westbury Road, Barbados, they could tell you that’s the truth. I annoyed every one of my neighbors.”

Rihanna was one of the night’s early competitive winners as well. She took favorite soul/R&B female artist. Timberlake won soul/R&B album, soul/R&B male artist and pop/rock male artist. Taylor Swift, who won favorite country female artist and country album of the year for “Red,” was next with two awards. Both are up for top honor artist of the year.

“‘Red’ is very different than any album I’ve made before and the reason I was able to do that was because of the fans,” Swift said. “I cannot believe what you’ve done in the last year. This album came out almost exactly a year ago and the fact that 6 million of you went out and bought it is crazy.”

Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande was named favorite new artist, Florida Georgia Line won single of the year for “Cruise” with Nelly in something of a surprise, Luke Bryan won favorite male country artist, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis used their rap/hip-hop album acceptance speech to send a message of tolerance.

Ben Haggerty, the rapper known as Macklemore, accepted the award for favorite rap/hip-hop album, then quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in a live satellite feed from the rap group’s latest tour stop.

“Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin and the hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it,” he said. “This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers and our fans, and it’s time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it.”

Florida became a focal point after Martin’s killer was freed under the state’s stand your ground law. It was the first win of the night for Macklemore and Lewis, whose album “The Heist” has been an unexpected hit and made them the AMA’s top nominees with six.

Katy Perry opened the show looking like a princess out of a classic Japanese painting. Dressed in a traditional Japanese dress, Perry’s show-starting performance of “Unconditionally” included dozens of colorfully clad dancers waved fans, shadow danced in front of rice-paper screens and played the drums.

Perry was the early focus of the awards show, held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, arriving on the red carpet in a black strapless dress to screams from hundreds of fans. She said before the show she wanted to up her game, given the chance to open, and the whirling stage production was a wash of colors and movements before Perry disappeared in a puff of smoke.

One Direction was at times drowned out by screams during an understated performance of “Story of My Life.” The decibel level was that way from the moment the British boy band arrived on the carpet, all smiles and dapper suits. Harry Styles stopped to take a picture with three fans.

Timberlake strapped on an acoustic guitar and played a soulfully raucous version of “Drink You Away.” Macklemore crowd surfed on “Can’t Hold Us.” Jennifer Lopez absolutely nailed the elaborate dance numbers during her tribute to Salsa queen Celia Cruz, taking two dozen dancers through their paces while wearing a shimmering silver dress.

She winked at the crowd as she finished the number, the dancers sprawled around her on the floor.

Lady Gaga and R. Kelly put on an elaborate production for their song “Do What U Want,” staging a presidential affair. Kelly played the president and Gaga a Marilyn Monroe-like mistress. Kelly gazed upward as Gaga table-danced on his desk, then stormed off the stage as an actor playing a reporter chased him asking about the affair.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

By Sam P.K. Collins

Special to the NNPA


Activist and author Kevin Powell recently announced the launch of BK Nation, a New York-based, multi-chapter national organization that tackles social and political issues through a combination of grassroots activism, technology, and social media, before more than 70 artists, educators, filmmakers, and business owners.

The Nov. 3rd launch event at the Akwaaba Bed and Breakfast in Northwest followed a New York launch event in October and comes before an event in Los Angeles scheduled for early January 2014.

“For the past 30 years, I have watched the right wing create a movement that has changed the direction of this country and I don’t see why we cannot create a similar movement,” said Powell, 47. “We have ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, ‘Stop and Frisk,’ and voter laws that are out of control. Imagine [what could happen] if we replicate what we felt [during the 2008 presidential election] and make it a part of our value system,” said Powell who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Guests spent the evening talking among themselves while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and listening to the tunes of Danté Pope & the Jazz Collective. During his remarks, Powell briefly reflected on his experiences as a political activist and [promoted] the launch event as an opportunity to mobilize people of various age groups, industries, and socioeconomic backgrounds a couple months before BK Nation’s official nationwide launch in January.

“When you have those diverse life experiences and you meet so many different types of people, you start thinking about ways to bring people together,” said Powell. “Anything is possible. A progressive multicultural movement can happen in this country to serve communities, particularly the black community.”

Camille Watkin, a forensic therapist, and Kia Bennett, a singer and songwriter, set out to make connections at the event as they promoted their anti-bullying literature, which they developed for schools, churches, and community organizations. Watkin said Powell’s message of collaboration quickly resonated with her.

“This is beyond any moment. This is a movement,” said Watkin, 41. “It’s very innovative at a time when young people are utilizing social media in so many different ways. We can all benefit from collaboration and networking opportunities,” said Watkin who lives in Columbia, Md.

Donnie Martin, a student and musical producer, said BK Nation’s multigenerational approach and emphasis on the arts as a collaborative tool compelled him to inquire further about the steps the organization will take to expand in the D.C. metropolitan area.

“[This organization] is important for the sake of relating to people,” said Martin, 26, who attends the University of the District of Columbia in Northwest. “This brother has a message and great concern for people at large. He wants to use the arts to get in contact with [my generation]. I’m curious to see what approach he will use,” said Martin who lives in Northwest.

Powell first developed BK Nation in in the early 1990s while working as a senior staff writer for the national hip-hop publication Vibe Magazine. While he initially intended it to serve as a space for political discourse, the historic election of President Barack Obama in 2008 prompted him to reach out to friends and colleagues and begin putting the finishing touches on the grassroots organization.

The organization, as he envisioned it, would provide resources specific to the needs of various inner-city communities across the country.

Powell, a writer and activist for 30 years, likened BK Nation to the Black Panther Movement, saying that he wants to ensure that the greatest priority is given to those living in impoverished communities.

“We are going to be a clearinghouse of information for communities. Every chapter will have monthly forums,” said Powell. “Our folks will go to different cities and show people how to run their chapters. We’re not a top-down organization. There are folks who have different problems. You have to address the needs of the community.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

City New Service


The historical drama ``12 Years a Slave'' earned a leading seven nominations this week for the 29th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, while the father-son road trip comedy-drama ``Nebraska'' collected six.

The films were both nominated for best feature, along with Robert Redford's maritime drama ``All is Lost,'' the Noah Baumbach comedy-drama ``Frances Ha'' and the Coen brothers' folk-music tale ``Inside Llewyn Davis.''

The Spirit Awards, which recognize artistic films made with limited budgets, will be presented March 1 during a luncheon in a tent near the beach in Santa Monica. Actor Patton Oswald will host the event.

``12 Years a Slave'' director Steve McQueen earned a nod for best director, along with Jeff Nichols for ``Mud,'' Alexander Payne for ``Nebraska,'' Shane Carruth for ``Upstream Color'' and J.C. Chandor for ``All is Lost.''

Bruce Dern was nominated for best actor for ``Nebraska,'' as were Chiwetel Ejiofor for ``12 Years a Slave,'' Oscar Isaac for ``Inside Llewyn Davis,'' Michael B. Jordan for ``Fruitvale Station,'' Matthew McConaughey for ``Dallas Buyers Club'' and Redford for ``All is Lost.''

Nominated for best actress were Cate Blanchett for ``Blue Jasmine,''

Julie Delpy for ``Before Midnight,'' Gaby Hoffman for ``Crystal Fairy,'' Brie Larson for ``Short Term 12'' and Shailene Woodley for ``The Spectacular Now.''

``Mud,'' the story of a stranger who's arrival shakes up the lives of two teenage boys in a small Arkansas town, will receive the Robert Altman Award, which honors a film's director, casting director and ensemble cast.

``The nominations this year are from such an amazing pool of talented

film artists,'' according to Josh Welsh, president of Film Independent. ``Their work demonstrates the deep originality and uniqueness of vision that are at the heart of independent film. At Film Independent, we work all year round to promote that spirit, and the nominees celebrated here today are tremendous ambassadors for their crafts, both in front of and behind the camera.''

Here is a complete list of nominees:


   BEST FEATURE (Award given to the Producer, Executive Producers are not


• ``12 Years a Slave,'' PRODUCERS: Dede Gardner, Anthony Katagas,

Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen, Arnon Milchan, Brad Pitt, Bill Pohlad

• ``All Is Lost,'' PRODUCERS: Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb

• ``Frances Ha,'' PRODUCERS: Noah Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Rodrigo

Teixeira, Lila Yacoub

• ``Inside Llewyn Davis,'' PRODUCERS: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott


• ``Nebraska,'' PRODUCERS: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa



• Shane Carruth, ``Upstream Color''

• J.C. Chandor, ``All Is Lost''

• Steve McQueen, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Jeff Nichols, ``Mud''

• Alexander Payne, ``Nebraska''



• Woody Allen, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater, ``Before Midnight''

• Nicole Holofcener, ``Enough Said''

• Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, ``The Spectacular Now''

• John Ridley, ``12 Years a Slave''


BEST FIRST FEATURE (Award given to the director and producer)

• ``Blue Caprice,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Alexandre Moors; PRODUCERS: Kim

Jackson, Brian O'Carroll, Isen Robbins, Will Rowbotham, Ron Simons, Aimee

Schoof, Stephen Tedeschi

• ``Concussion,'' DIRECTOR: Stacie Passon; PRODUCER: Rose Troche

• ``Fruitvale Station,'' DIRECTOR: Ryan Coogler; PRODUCERS: Nina Yang

Bongiovi, Forest Whitaker

• ``Una Noche,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Lucy Mulloy; PRODUCERS: Sandy Perez

Aguila, Maite Artieda, Daniel Mulloy, Yunior Santiago

• ``Wadjda,'' DIRECTOR: Haifaa Al Mansour; PRODUCERS: Gerhard Meixner,

Roman Paul



• Lake Bell, ``In A World''

• Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ``Don Jon''

• Bob Nelson, ``Nebraska''

• Jill Soloway, ``Afternoon Delight''

• Michael Starrbury, ``The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete''


   JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD - Given to the best feature made for under

$500,000. Award given to the writer, director, and producer. Executive

Producers are not awarded.

• ``Computer Chess,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Andrew Bujalski; PRODUCERS:

Houston King  Alex Lipschultz

• ``Crystal Fairy,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Sebastian Silva; PRODUCERS: Juan

de Dios Larrain  Pablo Larrain

• ``Museum Hours,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Jem Cohen; PRODUCERS: Paolo

Calamita  Gabriele Kranzelbinder

• ``Pit Stop,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Yen Tan; WRITER: David Lowery;

PRODUCERS: Jonathan Duffy, James M. Johnston,

   Eric Steele, Kelly Williams

• ``This is Martin Bonner,'' WRITER/DIRECTOR: Chad Hartigan; PRODUCER:

Cherie Saulter



• Cate Blanchett, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Julie Delpy, ``Before Midnight''

• Gaby Hoffmann, ``Crystal Fairy''

• Brie Larson, ``Short Term 12''

• Shailene Woodley, ``The Spectacular Now''



• Bruce Dern, ``Nebraska''

• Chiwetel Ejiofor, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Oscar Isaac, ``Inside Llewyn Davis''

• Michael B. Jordan, ``Fruitvale Station''

• Matthew McConaughey, ``Dallas Buyers Club''

• Robert Redford, ``All Is Lost''



• Melonie Diaz, ``Fruitvale Station''

• Sally Hawkins, ``Blue Jasmine''

• Lupita Nyong'o, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Yolonda Ross, ``Go For Sisters''

• June Squibb, ``Nebraska''



• Michael Fassbender, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Will Forte, ``Nebraska''

• James Gandolfini, ``Enough Said''

• Jared Leto, ``Dallas Buyers Club''

• Keith Stanfield, ``Short Term 12''



• Sean Bobbitt, ``12 Years a Slave''

• Benoit Debie, ``Spring Breakers''

• Bruno Delbonnel, ``Inside Llewyn Davis''

• Frank G. DeMarco, ``All Is Lost''

• Matthias Grunsky, ``Computer Chess''



• Shane Carruth, David Lowery, ``Upstream Color''

• Jem Cohen, Marc Vives, ``Museum Hours''

• Jennifer Lame, ``Frances Ha''

• Cindy Lee, ``Una Noche''

• Nat Sanders, ``Short Term 12''


BEST DOCUMENTARY (Award given to the director and producer)

• ``20 Feet From Stardom,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Morgan Neville;

PRODUCERS: Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers

• ``After Tiller,'' DIRECTORS/PRODUCERS: Martha Shane, Lana Wilson

• ``Gideon's Army,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Dawn Porter; PRODUCER: Julie


• ``The Act of Killing,'' DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: Joshua Oppenheimer;

PRODUCERS: Joram Ten Brink, Christine Cynn, Anne Kohncke, Signe Byrge Sorensen,

Michael Uwemedimo

• ``The Square,'' DIRECTOR: Jehane Noujaim; PRODUCER: Karim Amer


BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM (Award given to the director)

• ``A Touch of Sin,'' (China); DIRECTOR: Jia Zhang-Ke

• ``Blue is the Warmest Color,'' (France); DIRECTOR: Abdellatif


• ``Gloria,'' (Chile); DIRECTOR: Sebastian Lelio

• ``The Great Beauty,'' (Italy); DIRECTOR: Paolo Sorrentino

• ``The Hunt,'' (Denmark); DIRECTOR: Thomas Vinterberg


ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD - (Given to one film's director, casting director, and its

ensemble cast)

   -- ``Mud,'' Director: Jeff Nichols; Casting Director: Francine Maisler;

Ensemble Cast:  Joe Don Baker, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey, Ray

McKinnon, Sarah Paulson, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard, Tye Sheridan, Paul

Sparks, Bonnie Sturdivant, Reese Witherspoon


17th ANNUAL PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD - The 17th annual Producers Award,

sponsored by Piaget, honors emerging producers who, despite highly limited

resources demonstrate the creativity, tenacity, and vision required to produce

quality, independent films. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant

funded by Piaget.

• Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

• Jacob Jaffke

• Andrea Roa

• Frederick Thornton


20th ANNUAL SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD - The 20th annual Someone to Watch Award

recognizes a talented filmmaker of singular vision who has not yet received

appropriate recognition.

• ``My Sister's Quinceanera,'' DIRECTOR: Aaron Douglas Johnston

• ``Newlyweeds,'' DIRECTOR: Shaka King

• ``The Foxy Merkins,'' DIRECTOR: Madeline Olnek



Than Fiction Award, sponsored by Stella Artois, is presented to an emerging

director of non-fiction features who has not yet received significant

recognition. The award includes a $25,000 unrestricted grant.

• Kalyanee Mam, ``A River Changes Course''

• Jason Osder, ``Let the Fire Burn''

• Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez, ``Manakamana''

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

By Zenitha Prince

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper


Actor Morris Chestnut will be the face of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), which will be held June 19-22, 2014, in New York City, officials announced recently.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be the ambassador of the ABFF, taking place this year in New York – a city that has inspired and cultivated so much great talent in all areas of film,” Chestnut said in a statement.

As ambassador of the festival, Chestnut, of Best Man and Best Man Holiday fame, will help to promote the four-day event, which showcases films by and about people of African descent.

Author/producer Tonya Lewis Lee (The Watsons Go to Birmingham) will serve as the festival’s Host Committee chair.

Jeff Friday, ABFF founder and CEO of Film Life, which produces the festival, said both Chestnut and Lee are bright lights in the Black film industry and will be able representatives of the event.

“Morris Chestnut is a beloved and charismatic actor,” Friday said in a statement. “The role of the ABFF Ambassador is to broaden public awareness of the festival as well as its mission, and you are about to see Morris everywhere with [the recent] release of The Best Man Holiday – a must-see!”

He added, “I deeply appreciate both Morris and Tonya’s commitment to advance opportunities for Black artists in our industry.”

In 1997, Friday conceived the ABFF as a means of opening up doors of opportunity for Black creators and actors in the television and film industry, which has been slow to diversify its ranks. Now, the event is considered a major channel for Black actors and directors to get a foothold into Hollywood.

The festival will be comprised of Hollywood premieres, indie films, a new Entertainment and Lifestyle Expo, celebrity conversations, master classes, film- and TV-focused panels, plus a comedy show and parties.

Friday said that with the slate of events and the moves to New York, he expects 30,000 visitors this year.

“It’s going to be a great year,” he said.

For a schedule of events, other information and tickets, visit:

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

November 28, 2013

City News Service


On Thursday, December 12, 2013, a galaxy of stars will join acclaimed director/choreographer Debbie Allen to raise funds for the non-­‐profit Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) and its city, statewide and international initiatives to fill the much needed void in Arts Education.

Among those slated to perform at Debbie Allen Dance Academy’s “ALL-STAR GALA” are: R&B superstars Chaka Khan and James Ingram; Latin jazz great Arturo Sandoval; actresses Chandra Wilson (“Grey’s Anatomy”) and Tichina Arnold (“Everybody Hates Chris”), and comedians Sinbad and Tommy Davidson. The event also features performances from the American Ballet Theatre and the exceptional DADA Ensemble. “The Tonight Show’s” Rickey Minor directs the music.

Denzel Washington and Debbie Allen host this evening of stellar performances at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus, 10745 Dickson Plaza, Los Angeles, CA at 8:00pm. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster or by calling (310) 202-1711. Proceeds will benefit the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, which offers arts education for youth in the greater Los Angeles area.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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