December 20, 2012

By Mark Kennedy

Associated Press


Some key figures who helped manage Michael Jackson’s career are teaming up to create a stage musical about the behind-the-scenes making of a superstar that producers call a cross between “Goodfellas” and “Dreamgirls.”

Producers Mark Lamica, Quincy Krashna, Jerry Greenberg, Raymond Del Barrio and Larry Hart will join forces to present “The Man,” a fictional show inspired by the rise of Jackson, Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston. The story will be told through the eyes of a manager.

“We want this project to be a compelling, gritty, entertaining tale, that tells the story of the price of fame in a new way,” said Lamica, who served as a partner with the late Frank Dileo, who was Jackson’s manager.

“The Man,” with a book by Lamica and Grammy Award-winning composer Hart, is expected to open in Las Vegas in the late fall of 2013. The show will have all original music and will follow the superstar from the 80s to 2005.

The producing team last combined to create “Larry Hart’s Sisterella,” a pop-rock update of the Cinderella fable that Jackson was an executive producer on before his death.

Greenberg was president of Jackson’s jointly owned record label with Sony Music for 11 years. Krashna is another Dileo partner who also worked with Jackson.

Lamica, in a statement, called the musical an “epic, music driven dramatic work” and said he is drawing widely from personal experiences. “This is a fictional template and story that, with some variation, fits a number of global celebrities,” he added.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

 December 20, 2012

By RYAN NAKASHIMA  Associated Press


Nintendo is switching on a television service that transforms the tablet-like controller for its new Wii U game console into a remote that changes the channel on your TV and puts programs from the Internet just a few finger taps away.

The TVii service will debut in the U.S. and Canada on Thursday, the company said. That's a delay from previous plans to have the service available when the game console went on sale in North America on Nov. 18. The TVii service launched in Japan on Dec. 8.

The aim of TVii is to bring order to the hundreds of channels on regular TV and the thousands of shows and movies available through apps from Netflix Inc., Inc., Hulu Plus and Google Inc.'s YouTube.

It's the first time a video game console maker has integrated live TV controls in a device and could be the extra incentive needed for on-the-fence shoppers ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Nintendo Co.'s Wii U console has a unique controller — the GamePad — which is covered with joysticks and buttons and boasts a front-facing camera and 6.2-inch touch screen. The GamePad also houses an infrared emitter that talks directly to your TV or set-top box.

TVii scans what's available and offers you the option of watching a show, sports event or movie on live TV or through apps that connect to the Internet. By the end of March, Nintendo says that it will integrate TVii with TiVo so that it will be possible to program a TiVo digital video recorder through the game console as well.

"This is a way to get every member of the household to pick up the GamePad hopefully every day," said Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America. "Hopefully this leads to a significant change in how consumers view and interact with their TV."

For years, home entertainment enthusiasts have had to grapple with a bunch of different controllers to work their televisions, set-top boxes, DVRs, disc players and game consoles. TVii has the potential to dispense with some of that hassle.

If you search for "The Walking Dead," for example, TVii will show you the next time it's on AMC and give you the option of buying previous episodes from Amazon or watching them on Netflix. If it's on now, you can change the channel from the GamePad. Users will be able to watch only channels they already get via antenna or through their TV provider, but search results will include all the options available, which could entice some people to upgrade their channel packages. Netflix and Hulu Plus require separate subscriptions that cost $8 a month each. TVii itself is free.

TVii also has a traditional channel guide and will recommend shows you might like based on favorite shows, networks and movies that you enter. Different users can have different profiles, and parental controls are included.

Nintendo hopes the service boosts sales of its console. About 425,000 Wii U units were sold in the first seven days on sale. That's faster than the rollout of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 when they debuted in November 2005 and November 2006 respectively, although initial sales are often constrained by supply, not demand.

Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities said the TVii service puts Nintendo a step ahead of its competitors, but he expects Microsoft to close the gap next year with a next-generation Xbox that includes a TV tuner. Microsoft hasn't announced such a device.

"It gives them a head start. I think they should be congratulated on making this a truly multimedia device," Pachter said. "I don't think that advantage is going to last very long."

Nintendo has also added social networking features to its service. A team of curators will watch the top 100 shows on live TV and post details and a screenshot of important events, such as "a great shot in a basketball game or an unexpected twist in 'Mad Men,'" according to Zach Fountain, director of network business for Nintendo of America.

Users can then comment on these moments and have those posts show up on Nintendo's Miiverse network, as well as Facebook and Twitter if they choose. Users that express emotions could wind up with a sad or happy-looking Mii avatar.

Live sporting events such as pro or college football will also be accompanied by scores and play-by-play summaries on the GamePad's screen.

One problem with the service could be the GamePad's battery life. Nintendo says the controller can be used three to five hours depending on activity and screen brightness before it needs to be charged. But TV ratings agency The Nielsen Co. says the average American watches nearly five hours of TV per day. Heavy users may need to keep the controller plugged in to a wall socket, or buy a $25 battery pack that its maker, Nyko, promises will double the battery life.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

December 13, 2012


Mental fog lifts and you are sharp as a tack once again. You’ll be making decisions about partnerships and joint finances. A very happy week is in store.  Soul Affirmation: My smile is a radiant light to those I encounter.



Exercise prudence this week in your handling of personal funds. Let your mind wander into the future and you’ll receive the happy answer that you are looking for. Time shared with a partner this week will be very enjoyable.  Soul Affirmation: Helping others is the true measure of my worth.



Work with a partner or colleagues goes exceptionally well this week. You receive praise for a job well done! Feel free to change your mind regarding a personal issue. News from a distance arrives.  Soul Affirmation: I go inside myself to find peace and joy this week.



Pay attention to the details in your big bright beautiful picture this week. You’ll handle everything that comes up if you keep your focus sharp. A grand social event is in store for the week.  Soul Affirmation: I am willing to make changes in my life.



Things are going your way in wonderful ways this week. Happy news may arrive from a distance, and on the home front, a romantic question may be answered. Friends are glad to be with you. All in all, a very pleasant week! Enjoy! Soul Affirmation: Success is mine because I feel successful.



 Your social life gives big rewards during the week. However, give attention to e-mail contacts. Don’t be afraid as your mental horizon expands into new areas.  Soul Affirmation: You are gifted with the ability to give



Your relationships can receive a big boost from a trip that beckons. Business is also highlighted. Your strong mental energy is sustained through the week. Work it out by talking it out. Soul Affirmation: This week is the week the Lord has made. I rejoice in it.



Get in touch with those who can help you achieve your goals. Place the accent on initiative. Romance, passion and work are singing in harmony this week and this week. Soul Affirmation: My love for myself is the most important love for me to have.



 Joy this week comes from love. You are especially attractive. Stage your week so that you spend time around people you want to attract. It is easy for you to bring harmony into your relationships. Your ability to communicate is greatly enhanced. Use it to your best advantage. Soul Affirmation: The success of others is the investment I make in myself.



Are you spending money with little or nothing to show for it? This is because you’re looking for something that money can’t buy. Now is a good time to spend some of your emotional currency, and don’t be cheap. You’ll create a situation in which people will work hard to please you.  Soul Affirmation: Friendships are shock absorbers on the bumpy roads of life.



 You may like to go to war, but avoid an argument with a friend; it will slow down all the wonderful progress you’ve been making. Your patience will be tested this week, stay on task. Soul Affirmation: I smile and trust in the powers beyond myself.



Skip it! Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’ll only bring you down. Don’t run around inside your own head this week. Focus your awareness outside on something beautiful. Compromise is a key idea this week. Soul Affirmation: Jewelry reflects the beauty of my feelings about myself.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

 December 20, 2012

By Kam Williams

LAWT Contributing Writer


Academy Award-winning actor, talented Grammy Award-winning musical artist and comedian Jamie Foxx is one of Hollywood's rare, elite multi-faceted performers. He was last seen in “Horrible Bosses” and also recently lent his vocal talents to the popular animated adventure RIO, as a canary named ‘Nico.’

Meanwhile, Foxx recently executive produced a sketch comedy series called “In the Flow with Affion Crockett” as well as “Thunder Soul,” a documentary chronicling the achievements of Houston’s Kashmere High School Stage Band. 

In addition to his outstanding work in film, he has enjoyed a thriving career in music. In December 2010, he released his fourth album, “Best Night of My Life,” featuring Drake, Justin Timberlake, Rick Ross, T.I., and other artists. In January 2010, Foxx and T-Pain’s record breaking No. 1 song “Blame It” off of his previous album, “Intuition,” won “Best R&B performance by a duo/group with vocals” at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

In 2010, Foxx delivered a hilarious cameo appearance in “Due Date,” and appeared in the hit romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day.” The year before, he starred opposite Gerard Butler in Overture Films’ dramatic thriller Law Abiding Citizen.

He demonstrated his affinity and respect for fictional portrayals with “The Soloist” in which he played Nathaniel Anthony Ayer, a real-life musical prodigy who developed schizophrenia and dropped out of Julliard, becoming a homeless musician who wanders the streets of Los Angeles. Prior to that, he played the leader of a counter-terrorist team in “The Kingdom.”

In December 2006, Foxx was seen in the critically acclaimed screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls.” That came on the heels of his Best Actor Academy Award-winning performance as the legendary Ray Charles in “Ray.”

He first rose to fame as a comedian, from which he initiated a potent career trajectory of ambitious projects. After spending time on the comedy circuit, he joined Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans and Tommy Davidson in the landmark Fox sketch comedy series, “In Living Color,” creating some of the show's funniest and most memorable moments. In 1996, he launched his own series, “The Jamie Foxx Show,” on the WB Network.

Here, he talks about playing the title role of slave-turned-bounty hunter Django opposite Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”

LAWT: Hi Jamie, thanks so much for the time. I’m honored to have another opportunity to interview you.

Jamie Foxx: [Playfully clears his throat, before answering in a very refined tone] Why thank you. [Chuckles. Then, speaks in his normal voice] What’s happening with it, Kam?  

LAWT: I suppose I should start by asking if you’d like to comment on the recent shootings in Connecticut? 

JF: I got two daughters, man, and all I want people to do is to mourn the loss of these precious kids and their teachers and to pray that their families heal. 

LAWT: What interested you in Django Unchained?

JF: Quentin Tarantino… Leonardo DiCaprio… Samuel L. Jackson… Christoph Waltz… Kerry Washington… Oh, man! It was like an all-star team. What’s funny is that I didn’t know anything about Django, and I was hearing all this buzz and then I saw online how the biggest actor in the world, Will Smith, was going to work with Quentin Tarantino. And I was like, “Damn! There’s another project I didn’t know nothing about.” But luckily, I somehow got a chance to meet Quentin and read the script which I thought was brilliant. Next thing you know, I was in a room talking with him about trying to make it happen.   

LAWT: Did you have any reservations?

JF: I didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction like some people did to the language and the violence. My stepfather was a history teacher at Lincoln High School in Dallas. So, I was already familiar with the N-word and the brutality of slavery. What I was drawn to was the love story between Django and Broomhilda and how he defends and gets the girl in the end. I thought it was just an amazing and courageous project.  

LAWT: Children’s book author Irene Smalls says: In this film you turn the docile stupid black man myth on its head. You also portray the enduring love of a black man for his woman.

JF: Most definitely! When you see the slave who’s been chained and whipped with no way out, and he finally catches up to this, some people call that revenge. But I say, “No, it’s righting a wrong at that time.” You’ve been wronged for so long, and here’s your karma personified, standing in this funny blue suit. And on the end of that suit is your maker. You’ve never seen that in a movie before, at least not when it comes to slavery. Ordinarily, when the slave gets a chance to hold the whip or the gun, they start singing a hymn or doing the speech about “If I do this, I’ll be as bad as you.” We come out with a mix-tape, and that’s it. But with Quentin Tarantino, it’s just like a regular Western. The bad guy has to pay, and the good guy gets his woman.     

LAWT: Have you seen the film with a black audience? Were people talking back at the screen?

JF: Yeah, they were yelling like crazy.

LAWT: Irene also says: In both your stage name and your career choices you’ve paid homage to great black artists who have come before you. Is this film another acknowledgement of that legacy?

JF: Absolutely! I know this might sound strange, but some of the people I actually studied for this film were a little more contemporary. Of course, I started with the original film “Django” and Clint Eastwood’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” but I also watched Wesley Snipes in “New Jack City,” and Denzel Washington in “Glory” and “A Soldier’s Story.” Those performances moved me in a way that I cannot explain. So, you’re seeing me tip my hat to those guys in this film. 

LAWT: Film student Jamaal Green says: Jamie, you are such a talent in so many areas, it seems like there isn't anything you can’t do. Is there any chance that directing will be something you may try next?

JF: We’re doing a directing thing with Canon and Ron Howard, a special where we have people send in pictures. I would also like to direct some comedies with people like Chris Tucker, Kevin Hart and Mike Epps, and go to work with them on some fun stuff.

LAWT: Nick Antoine was wondering whether you’re ever going to get around to doing Skank Robbers, that long-rumored film based on the characters Wanda and Sheneneh that you and Martin Lawrence played on “In Living Color?”

JF: No, that’s not going to happen.

LAWT: This question is from your co-star Kerry Washington: If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

JF: Wow! If I were an animal, I would be an eagle.

LAWT: The Melissa Harris-Perry question: How did your first big heartbreak impact who you are as a person?

JF: Guys don’t adapt as well as women do to getting their heart broken for the first time. It’s tragic. I really wanted to be in love, get married, have kids and buy a wood-paneled station wagon for the family. But it didn’t work out, and, boy, it wrecked it!

LAWT: Would you mind coming up with a Jamie Foxx question I could ask other celebrities when I interview them?

JF: Hmm… [Thinks] If you only had 24 hours to live, what would you do? Would you do the bad stuff, you never got a chance to do, or would you do good stuff to make sure you make it into heaven?

LAWT: Great question! Thanks! Harriet Pakula-Teweles says: You have so much fun singing. What would be your dream band, if you could select the members from any group?

JF: My dream band? Jesus Christ! I would start with Prince, and then Questlove and Buddy Rich on the drums, Rick James on the bass, and Herbie Hancock on the piano. The horn section would be Miles Davis on lead trumpet, with Wynton and Branford Marsalis. I’d have Santana on lead guitar and Sheila E. doing percussion. My hype man would be Jerome [Benton] from The Time, and my singing group would be New Edition. There it is!

LAWT: Great band! Thanks again for the time, Jamie, and best of luck with the film.

JF: Thanks, Kam.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

December 13, 2012

By: Nicole Williams


It started off as a partnership between Emmy and Grammy award winning producer Narada Michael Walden and chart-topping singer, Whitney Houston that would lead into a friendship full of unforgettable memories. After the singer tragically died in February 2012, Narada, along with family and friends spent time dealing with the grief of losing someone they loved. He then felt inspired to share the moments he had with the singer that he says, would have never been known without writing a book.

“My inspiration for writing this book on Whitney called, “Whitney Houston: The Voice, The Music, The Inspiration,” is really to tell the story of how we worked in studio and to keep alive her music legacy and how much heart she has, how much love she has and to just speak about that.”

Narada was at the Grammy Museum Wednesday, December 5 for a book signing and performance. His book officially hit shelves November 27. Before the performance and book signing started, Narada was interviewed by the Billboard Magazine Senior Editor Gail Mitchell in the Clive Davis Theatre. During the interview, Gail Mitchell asked Narada of his start in the music industry, his role as a producer and specific details of moments with Whitney in the studio.

“Every one of us who are producers has our own way of doing it, our own way of doing magic. Really, you’re trying to ask the good Lord to come and bless your recording, so however you can do that, you do it. At my heart of it, I’m a coach. When Whitney sings I’m like a cheerleader. ‘That was phenomenal.’  ‘How did you do that?’ Then she wants to do it again,” he said.

Narada was involved with the Houstons in the very beginning of his music career. Whitney’s mother, Cissy Houston was a background singer for his debut solo album in 1976 titled “Garden of Love Light”.

 “Tom Dowd who produced that record with me, said we have to have Cissy Houston on this song and record. So in she comes with her singers and a little Whitney kind of tags along, the most beautiful, angelic-faced little girl. I had no idea that she’d be this one, but I was just stunned at how beautiful she was at thirteen years old,” he said.

Narada described the powerful voice that Cissy Houston had and that it took on a  “raw churchy vibe”. It was no surprise that when first working with Whitney, he experienced déjà vu as the power in her voice mimicked her mother’s.

That very same Whitney once again walked through those doors, only amidst Narada working with Aretha Franklin. After Narada was given a sense of urgency to hear Whitney’s voice, he accepted the meeting of the two once again.

On the stage of the Clive Davis Theater, Narada stood up out of his chair as he described Whitney’s features.


“Thin chick. Boots. Hair. Confident. Glowing. And knows it. She comes into the control room and sits down like ‘Hey what’s up?’ That one take was your record,” he said.

The audience laughed as he used hand gestures to describe the presence of Whitney. He was referring to the singer recording “How Will I Know” which only took one take at the studio in 1985. Before Whitney even recorded the hit song, Narada asked her if she was sure she wanted the key to be so high. He said that normally singers don’t like to sing at such a high pitch, but she was fine with it. After she nailed the song, that began the two’s journey together.

While Narada spoke, you could hear the passion and enthusiasm in his voice, which made it clear that his partnership with Whitney was more than just on a professional level, but also a level of friendship.

 “Friendship is really built around trust because when you’re in a recording studio you have headphones on, you have microphones on everybody, you have cameras. You have to find a partnership where you can kind of relax yourself and feel like you can give your very best and that’s what I tried to give her. If it meant giving her flowers, a teddy bear, or rubbing her neck or whatever would just calm her down so she could be her best and do her thing. So that was really our friendship, to find that balance,” he said.

The friendship the two had allowed him to learn more about the singer. He realized that Whitney was a beautiful, yet humble girl and what he describes as a “true music lover.”

He said that he was able to become a fan of Whitney.

“It’s not easy to do all the doubling. I’m telling you y’all don’t know. That’s why I put this book together because you don’t know. To double yourself, to triple yourself, to harmonize with yourself so it can sound like what you hear 20 years from now…it’s hard, but she didn’t care,” he said.

Narada helped produce huge hits for Whitney such as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and “How Will I Know”.  Those songs would later be performed that evening in a medley by up-and-coming artist, Shelea. Narada also joined in on the performance as he played the drums. Shelea says it was a privilege to be a part of the event.

"I was honored to be a part of the phenomenal tribute to Whitney Houston, a woman and artist who inspired me tremendously. I know her spirit was in the room that night and my hope is that we made her proud. I thank Narada for the opportunity and look forward to doing more with him," she said.

The music had the audience feeling the true presence of Whitney Houston as many clapped along with the songs and danced. By just merely watching Narada play the drums, you could see in his face the passion and love of the music that him and Whitney made together. It was a beautiful performance to witness and a wonderful surrounding vibe to feel.

The last time Narada and Whitney worked together in the studio was a song for the film “Sparkle” that Whitney starred in. The movie came out in August 2012. Besides that last memory of working together, other memories can be relived by reading the book. He says that he hopes readers will take away whatever they want from reading the book.

“I don’t put a limit on it. I just want people to look at it and read it and kind of just take whatever they get from it because really, Whitney Houston was a skyrocket, so I say just jump on the skyrocket and ride it.  Ride this love story that she touched our hearts,” he said.

The book is currently on sale at bookstores and proceeds will benefit Narada’s charity called the Narada Michael Walden Foundation, which helps music education for children.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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