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Quick Takes: KENDRICK LAMAR/ARINZE STANLEY/FOUNTAIN THEATRE/CENTER THEATRE GROUP

Los Angeles’ Center Theatre Group (CTG) announced its block party casting and lineup recently – Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre.  According to a write-up at Playbill.com, CTG will revisit: Coeurage Theatre Company’s production of Failure: A Love Story, Fountain Theatre’s production of Citizen: An American Lyric, and Echo Theater Company’s Dry Land. All will be staged at the Kirk Douglas Theatre from April 14–May 21.

From Playbill:

“As we celebrate Center Theatre Group’s 50 years of creating theatre in Los Angeles, we want to turn the spotlight on some of the remarkable work being done on other stages,”

said Center Theatre Group’s artistic director, Michael Ritchie.

“Coeurage Theatre, Echo Theater and Fountain Theatre, as well as others throughout L.A., regularly produce excellent, boundary-pushing work and we’re so glad they are sharing some of that work with us.”

Playbill’s article continued:

Coeurage Theatre Company’s Failure: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins opens the celebration April 14–23. The piece is set in Chicago of the 1920s and focuses on the three Fail sisters. It’s a chronicle of their lives together and the man who fell in love with all of them. The cast features Joe Calarco, June Carryl, Cristina Gerla, Kristina Johnson, Margaret Katch, Denver Milord, Gregory Nabours, Theodore Perkins, Kurt Quinn, Brandon Ruiter, Nicole Shalhoub, Gina Torrecilla, and Brittney S. Wheeler.

The Fountain Theatre’s production of Citizen: An American Lyric (April 28–May 7) was adapted for the stage by Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. The production, based on Claudia Rankine’s poetry, merges multiple art forms to meditate on the struggle against racism in America. The cast features Bernard K. Addison, Leith Burke, Tony Maggio, Simone Missick, Monnae Michaell, and Lisa Pescia. Directed by Shirley Jo Finney.

Echo Theater Company’s Dry Land by Ruby Spiegel is the last in the series of remounted shows, running May 14–21. Set in the locker room of a central Florida high school, it’s a hauntingly truthful portrait of hope, fear, abortion, and the strong bond between teenage girls. The cast features Daniel Hagen, Ben Horwitz, Connor Kelly-Eiding, Teagan Rose, Jenny Soo, Jacqueline Besson, and Alexandra Freeman, as well as USC School of Dramatic Arts students Francesca O’Hern, Bukola Ogunmola, Sidne Phillips, and Tessa Hope Slovis. Alana Dietze directs.

There are “pay what you can” performances for Failure, April 14; Citizen, April 28; and Dry Land, May 12.

For more information, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FOUNTAIN THEATRE!

A birthday message from writer/producer/director Stephen Sachs on April 1:

Deborah Lawlor and I founded the Fountain Theatre 27 years ago today. Launched on April Fools Day, the journey has been anything but foolish. For more than two decades, hundreds of artists have expertly and passionately performed their craft here and hundreds of thousands of patrons have shared in the magic of live intimate theatre. All of this happening in this cozy building on Fountain Avenue. My respect, admiration and gratitude to all the actors, designers, and production teams over the years who have made, and continue to make, the Fountain Theatre the success it is today, to our loyal audiences who travel with us on this glorious ride, our donors who make it possible, and our extraordinary Board of Directors who guide our way. And my love to our staff, most of us together for so many years, who work so hard, give so much, and care so deeply: Simon Levy, Scott Tuomey, James Bennett, Barbara Goodhill, Licia Jaccard, Lucy Pollak, Jose Lomeli, Marisela Hughes, Baltazar D. Gaytan, Nora King. Happy Birthday to this miracle on Fountain Avenue. Onward!

More theatre and Forever Flamenco at www.FountainTheatre.com.

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KENDRICK LAMAR:

The Compton rapper (or is he an MC?) released a video, ‘Humble,’ and a single, ‘The Heart Part 4,’ presumably from his upcoming album, last week.  Peeking from behind his cryptic Instagram message earlier – a simple, single Roman numeral IV – many believe it to be the lead-in for his anticipated fourth studio album. NPR’s Andrew Flanagan writes:

The song, less exploration of contrition on the part of Lamar than an instruction to his peers, picks up a thread NPR Music first examined following that album teaser: how the “best rapper alive” might explore the theme of God, religion and personal growth. (In the previous non-album single, “The Heart Part 4,” Lamar stuck to a similar narrative: “Tell ’em that God is comin’.”)Lamar opens with ‘Wicked or weakness, you got to see this.”And what do you say to God?

More from NPR Music on Kendrick Lamar:

http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2017/03/24/521359304/kendrick-lamar-fires-a-warning-shot-with-new-song-the-heart-part-4

http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2017/03/23/521244445/kendrick-lamar-releases-new-song-the-heart-part-4

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Arinze Stanley:

The Nigerian artist works with graphite and charcoal pencils on large sheets of cartridge paper, creating larger-than-life portraits. According to Colossal (www.ThisIsColossal.com) writer Christopher Jobson,

Stanley can devote up to 200 hours on a single illustration, painstakingly deliberating over minute details to capture reflections of light, droplets of sweat, or tangles of hair. Where some hyperrealistic artists lean towards idealized perfection, Stanley instead focuses on pure realism, infusing portraits with a raw sense of emotion and drama. The scale of each piece, always slightly larger than life, adds an uncanny three-dimensional aspect.

Stanley recently exhibited work at Omenka Gallery and you can see more of his works (and pieces in progress) on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Harinzeyart/). (via ARTNAU, juxtapoz)

Article at Colossal.com: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/03/arinze-stanley-hyperrealistic-portraits/

Video of work as it progresses:

https://www.facebook.com/Harinzeyart/videos/1578649285797051/

Written by: Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor

 

 

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Quick Takes: LISA NICHOLS/ISIKO COOKS /JACKIE J. STONE/DERRICK LEMONT/ARGHAVAN AGIDA

EXCLUSIVE!

JACKIE J. STONE and DERRICK LEMONT:

Photo Credit: Derrick Lemont

These two members of the exceptionally talented team from behind and in front of the camera for the breakaway digital series, Compersion, stopped in Atlanta, Georgia last week to meet with supporters from the Black & Poly (polyamory) Facebook group (www.Facebook.com/groups/blackpolyamory) and its local Meetup chapter, along with two secret, black polyamory groups based there. Compersion, the first project of Jackie J. Stone’s year-old Enchant TV network, is about a family’s struggles in opening its marriage to outside love interests. Open relationships have been on the media radar for the last few years with ‘Big Love’ and ‘Polyamory: Married and Dating’ introducing audiences en masse to polygamy (Big Love) and polyamory (the latter) as representatives of consensual non-monogamy. Ms. Stone shared these thoughts with RM Entertainment exclusively:

It was an amazing experience meeting the fans and friends of Enchant TV & Compersion.  We couldn’t have asked for more gracious hosts nor a more supportive community. As the series creator, it was a very rewarding experience to see how the series has impacted our viewers, and that our audience is eager for a Season 2. I hope to engage with our audience more and hope to do a Compersion tour.

Jackie J. Stone and Derrick LeMont talk Season 2 of Compersion:

Here’s Season I, episode 1 of Compersion, featuring stars Derrick LeMont and Jammie Patton:

Jackie J. Stone IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3680599/

Derrick LeMont’s demo reel (2014, so it excludes his appearances in 2016’s made-for-television Anita Hill movie, ‘Confirmation,’ and in this year’s ‘Sleepy Hollow’):

Derrick LeMont: http://derricklemont.weebly.com/about.html

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ARGHAVAN AGIDA:

Photo Credit: Facebook, Arghavan Agida

The Iranian-Swedish singer, womanist, author, and U

nited Nations Goodwill Ambassador to Sweden released her newest single, Zan, coinciding with International Women’s Month and the publication of her book Zan (Woman). On March 9th, Agida posted this message to her Facebook page (and I have a special thank you to Dr. Nina Ansary for highlighting inspirational Iranian women, which introduced me to Arghavan):  

From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of this project! It took 9 months to collect videos from strong and inspirational women from all around the world! Unfortunately, everyone could not be in the video but you are all equally valuable. It involves a couple of my favorite artists from Sweden to my heroes from oppressed countries fighting each day for their goals and dreams. I made this video to represent strength, empowerment, love and courage and with that we can all make a change!

Lyric: @padide_neishaboori

arrangement/production: Johan Moberg

music: Erwin Khachikian
Video: me💙

Zan:

Portrait: http://www.arghavan.se/portraits

Enjoy:

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EXCLUSIVE!

PETER MACK:

The celebrated author glides up from his 2015 PEN American Center Prize for the autobiographical ‘Filthy,’ written under his legal name, Isiko Cooks, and the critical success of his novel, ‘Domina: Submission Is A Privilege,’ based on the sessions of real-life dominatrix, Regina Bolton, known professionally as Goddess Jay. Mack, a prolific writer, released his 18th novel last week. Reprising a recurring, popular character in previous novels, ‘Ayana: The Return’ packs sizzle unbound and unrestrained. Immediate reviews are typical…and encouraging. The 47-year-old wordsmith promises to return respect to the art of urban literature. See for yourself: www.PeterMackPresents.com

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EXCLUSIVE!

LISA NICHOLS:

Photo Credit: Google Images

The vivacious life coach, author, motivational speaker, and featured teacher on the bestselling ‘The Secret,’ made a startling revelation from the stage recently. Lisa’s unexpected phone call at the close of her presentation, with over 600 people in the live audience and another 400 or so watching online, brought both audiences to cheers amid complete surprise with the disclosure that was over 20 years in coming. Feast:

Written by: Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor

 

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Quick Takes: GRACE JONES/ AMANDA SEALES/ CRISTELA ALONZO/ ROBERT SCHENKKAN/ IRIS SCOTT

AMANDA SEALES:

Photo Credit: Amanda Seales nywici dot org

Formerly known by her stage name Amanda Diva, the recording artist, actress, disc jockey and radio personality, has been promoted to a series regular in the breakout hit, Insecure, for season two. Seale appeared in several season one episodes as Tiffany in the HBO hit created by former YouTube phenomenon Issa Rae (Awkward Black Girl, remember?). Seales, along with her solo career, was also a touring member of the musical group Floetry. And we saw her name on the marquee last week in Hollywood at the Laugh Factory. Also a content creator, Deadline.com reports that her comedy competition show has been greenlighted for pilot presentations: http://deadline.com/2017/01/new-pilot-presentations-spring-premieres-announced-by-trutv-1201887098/

Get Your Life, episode 1:

CRISTELA ALONZO:

Photo Credit: Cristela Alonzo by Pinterest

The star rises for this popular comedian and has burst into the Netflix universe. After appearances all across the world of television, this is an expected stop along her path. Anyone who has experienced her show will agree. As with many comedians, she uses her life to inform her comedy. An example: I’m so excited to be here today because it means that I haven’t been deported. Yet.” And “First time (my mother) saw Girl Scouts, she thought they were border patrol agents … in training.” Yeah…funny, but SO serious.

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2017/03/05/518212330/from-mom-jokes-to-trump-era-racism-cristela-alonzo-aims-to-skewer-latino-stereot?

ROBERT SCHENKKAN:

Photo Credit: Robert_schenkkan_rachel.zein Daily Texan

The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter takes  on a current maelstrom in his  Building The Wall, a searing, topical play premiering at Hollywood, California’s multi-award winning Fountain Theatre. Directed by Michael Michetti and produced by the team of Simon Levy, Stephen Sachs, and Deborah Lawlor, the play pulls from the energy and emotions behind today’s headlines in addressing one of the most contentious topics on the political and social landscapes. The Fountain Theatre, always in front, is known for premiering probing, thoughtful art. This is no exception. It stars Bo Foxworth and Judith Moreland.

Director Michael Michetti on Building The Wall:

Actress Judith Moreland on Building The Wall:

Robert Schenkkan on Building The Wall:

From The Daily Texan:  http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2017/03/03/pulitzer-prize-winning-ut-alum-uses-writing-as-a-force-for-change

“MUST SEE! Local legend Fountain Theatre scores the official opening of this world premiere rollout written by a national legend: Pulitzer Prize–and Tony Award–winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (The Kentucky Cycle, All the Way).” – Time Out Los Angeles

Fountain Theatre Box Office contact & hours

(323) 663-1525

boxoffice@fountaintheatre.com

Monday-Wednesday 11 – 6pm

Thursday-Saturday 11 – 9pm

Sunday 11 – 5pm

or until showtime on

performance days.

www.FountainTheatre.com

GRACE JONES:

Photo Credit:Grace Jones by Pinterest

The smoldering documentary on model, singer, and actress – Diva – Grace Jones is slated to debut this year. Jones, a cultural icon in every field she entered, will have her journey presented in ‘The Musical of My Life,’ in production since 2005. Directed by Sophie Fiennes, the film creates a mixed-media presentation comprised of personal and live show footage. Grace Jones folded and ruptured the envelopes – categories – meant to contain her.  No dates or venues for the release are as yet available.

IRIS SCOTT:

Photo Credit: Sunshine Press

Finger painting extraordinaire https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/1306796656077122/

Written by Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor

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Quick Takes: LUPITA NYONG’O/ CHARLIE WILSON/ MATTHEW NOURIEL/ ZOOT SUIT/ CAMERATA PACIFICA

 

MATTHEW NOURIEL:

Photo Credit: Mi Westside Comedy Theater

Comedian Matthew Nouriel invites us all to a Persian New Year’s celebration on March 15. JQ International, in partnership with Cross Cultural Expressions, is hosting LA’s biggest LGBTQ Norooz Party at the swanky STK at the W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills!

All tickets include one FREE drink and feature delicious small bites, outdoor patio hookah bar, traditional Persian sweets, a night of “ghering” (dancing) with DJ David, and special guest appearances! Tickets are $30 now and will go up to $40 after pre-sale and at the door, so get them quick!

RSVP on Facebook, but purchase tickets at this link: www.JQInternational.org/Norooz2017

The organizers note: *While this is an LGBTQ party, allies and supporters of the community are not only welcome, but encouraged to be there! We are proud to create the most vibrant and inclusive spaces possible in all of our work!

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ZOOT SUIT:

Photo Credit: San Jose State University

Luis Valdez’s landmark play reaches forward from its first opening in 1978 to educate and entertain a new generation.  This play remains one of the most important shows ever created in Los Angeles. With its searing, candid portrayals of family, conflict, and official malfeasance, it is at the same time topical, trending, and timely. Presenting for the Center Theatre Group’s 50th Anniversary, it has extended its run for the third time since its revival, this time to April 2, 2017.

Zoot Suit became Broadway’s first Chicano play and a major motion picture, which starred now household names as Edward James Olmos, who garnered a Tony Award nomination for best featured actor in a play and a Theatre World award nod.   The music of Lalo Guerrero dominates! Actor/musician Daniel Valdez (you may know him from Richard Pryor’s Which Way Is Up?) returns as music director.

The play is presented in association with El Teatro Campesino. If you don’t speak caló, here is a glossary: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/news-and-blogs/news/2017/january/a-zoot-suit-glossary/

Tickets and more information: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/tickets/mark-taper-forum/2017-18/zoot-suit/ and 213.972.7231.

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CHARLIE WILSON:

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Uncle Charlie lands in Southern California on March 8 at the Microsoft Theater, with fellow superstars Fantasia and Johnnie Gill. Wilson, an eleven-time Grammy nominee brings his In It To Win It Tour to the Southland to promote his new album, In It To Win It, featuring his single, I’m Blessed, which includes music guests Snoop Dogg, Pitbull, Robin Thicke, Wiz Khalifa, and TI.

For information on presale tickets, VIP packages or to purchase tickets visit charliewilsonmusic.com.

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CAMERATA PACIFICA:

Photo Credit: Camerata Pacifica by Santa Barbara Independent

BUY-CURIOUS?

Not so familiar with classical music but have always wanted to try it?

Not quite ready to shell out the $$$?

Never heard Camerata Pacifica before?

Join them for the first time and they will pay for your tickets.

Concerts in Pasadena, LA, Santa Barbara & Ventura, . Next shows March 14 – 19.

Simply “Like” them on Facebook, then email tickets@cameratapacifica.org and they promise to set you up.

MESSAGES LEFT ON FACEBOOK WILL NOT RECEIVE A RESPONSE — email tickets@cameratapacifica.org

More information at: http://cameratapacifica.org/  

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LUPITA NYONG’O: Lupita teaches us the African finger snap:

Written by Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor

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Quick Takes: JAY-Z/SERENA WILLIAMS/WILLIE NELSON/RITCHIE VALENS/CAAMfest2017

JAY-Z:

Photo Credit:
thatgrapejuice.net

The Songwriters Hall of Fame recently announced its 2017 inductees and for the first time in the organization’s 38-year history, it includes the category of rap. It’s first inductee under the rap category? Jay-Z!

Jay Z will be joined by Swedish mega-songwriter Max Martin; Motown founder Berry Gordy (who wrote for superstar Jackie Wilson prior to forming Motown Records); Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds; Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis ; Peter Cetera, Robert Lamm, and James Pankow of Chicago. Songwriter Nile Rodgers, who was inducted last year, when asked what took so long for the Songwriters Hall of Fame to recognize rappers as songwriters, offered that “Jay Z was in a space where, even though he’s had more pop albums than anyone else, (it’s) because he did it through rap, which isn’t considered part of the normal pop music scene,” according to a report on National Public Radio’s web site.

 

Songwriters Hall of Fame co-chairs, the producer/songwriting team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who were inducted previously, wrote that the organization is moving “definitively into recognizing music creators of the 21st century while continuing to honor the greats of earlier decades.”

Could Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls be next?

 

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, June 15, in New York.

CAAMfest2017:

The Center for Asian American Media announced that tickets are now available for its 35th annual media festival. The theme for this year’s festival is Today, Yesterday, and Tomorrow. Celebrating Asian American film, music, and food, the event will be held in Oakland and San Francisco, California venues from March 4 (CAAMFeast) through March 19, and will feature special presentations, CAAMFeast (guess what that’s about), films (of course), events, narratives, documentaries, shorts, and a few other nice touches. “While every birthday is special, turning 35 is a proud moment for CAAMFest. This year, we celebrate 35 years of advancing Asian American media and evolving our platform for Asian and Asian American voices. As a special treat, join us as we revisit three powerful films from the CAAMFests of yesterday.” Those three films are: Who Killed Vincent Chin?; The Fall of the I-Hotel; Yellow (with actor John Cho twenty years ago). Tickets and venues: http://CAAMmedia.org. Other information: http://CAAMfest.com/2017/ . And on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CAAMFest

 

 

RITCHIE VALENS:

Photo Credit: Biography.com

Rock & Roll and Rockabilly icon Ritchie Valens, whose meteoric rise in the industry and sudden death was chronicled in the 1987 film, La Bamba, may have a section of California highway named in his honor. Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, introduced a bill recently to rename a portion of California Interstate 5 after the legendary Los Angeles County resident.

 

Bocanegra’s bill introduced to the California State assembly calls for a section between the 170 and 118 freeways to be rebranded “The Ritchie Valens Memorial Highway.” “His music has inspired a generation of Chicano artists in our community and throughout the world. “Ritchie Valens is part of the cultural fabric of the 39th District and the northeast San Fernando Valley, ” Bocanegra said in a statement reported on public station KCET’s web site posted by the respected City News Service. “His music has inspired a generation of Chicano artists in our community and throughout the world. It’s only fitting to name a highway after a rock ‘n’ roll Hall of Famer who grew up right here in Pacoima.” Valens attended Pacoima High School; Pacoima is a suburb of Los Angeles.

 

Valens, who was born Richard Steven Valenzuela, died on Feb. 3, 1959, when just 17 years old, in a plane crash that also took the lives of Buddy Holly (That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue) and J.P. `’The Big Bopper’ Richardson (Chantilly Lace). In 1994, the City of Los Angeles renamed a Pacoima park in Valens’ honor, the Ritchie Valens Recreation

Center. Valens is also honored on the city’s Wall of Murals.

SERENA WILLIAMS:

Photo Credit:The Times

Tennis superstar Serena Williams spread her wings in a new direction recently. Returning to Sports Illustrated magazine for its annual swimsuit edition, she broke new ground by posing in her first thong. And she wore it to great effect.

ENews quoted the newly engaged sports icon as saying, “I’ve never worn a thong bikini, so for that to be my first shot was like a shot of espresso for me because I had to wake up immediately,” she explained in a behind-the-scenes clip of her SI shoot. “The thong is perfect, it really made me feel comfortable. I’m officially a thong girl now!”

The sports phenomenon indicated that she preferred the one-piece swimsuits, but no one was disappointed with any of her poses. Treat yourself here: http://www.si.com/swimsuit/model/serena-williams/2017/photos#1 and here:  http://www.si.com/swimsuit/model/serena-williams/2017/videos/uncovered

 

WILLIE NELSON:

Photo Credit: New York Magazine

Watch Willie sing “Summertime” off the new album ‘Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin’

Pre-order the album here: http://smarturl.it/wn_smtme_amzn?iqid=fb.wn

Written by: Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor 

 

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Quick Takes: SMOKEY ROBINSON/SIDNEY POITIER/TANIA MORALES/AIDAN PARK

Aidan Park

Photo Credit: Aidan Park/Laugh Factory

Comedian Aidan Park’s next gig is at the Laugh Factory in Long Beach, California. Always a crowd favorite for his high-octane routines, Aidan’s Comedy Realness show unfolds on Wednesday, February 22   where he shares hosting duties with comic Kelsey Cook. Curtain goes up at 8 p.m. Other featured comics are Pandora Boxx, Keith Carey, Rebecca Donohue, and Jessimae Peluso.  More information at (562) 495-2844, extension 1. Location: 151 S. Pine Avenue, Long Beach CA 90802. www.LaughFactory.com/clubs/long-beach and www.AidanPark.com.   Follow Aidan: @AidanParkShow.

And for a taste:

Tania Morales

Photo Credit: TeddyBoy French

And about comics, comedian/producer Tania Morales performed last week in Inglewood, California for a fundraiser at Chuco’s Legal Justice Center (see Reunification Fundraiser at https://www.facebook.com/events/770362669779598/) . Also performing were comedians JR Redwater and Dina Leffart, and rappers Kristle Lightning and White Cloud (the rappers appearing together as Lightning Cloud). You may remember Tania’s Morales Espino Productions’ Funny First Friday shows in Santa Ana, which ran for a little over the last three years. Tania returned to the stage for a breather, but she tells us that she plans to relaunch Funny First Fridays soon. Stay tuned with us and here: https://www.facebook.com/Tania.Morales.Comedy.

Sidney Poitier

Photo Credit: MGM

Turner Classic Movies announced recently that Academy Award-winning actor/director/diplomat Sir Sidney Poitier will attend its 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival for the 50th anniversary screening of ‘In The Heat of the Night,’ which will open the festival on April 6.  The landmark film, directed by Norman Jewison, was a Best Picture winner and starred Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger. From the TMC Movie Classics website: “Poitier broke stereotypes and new ground for his leading role as a black northern cop who finds himself investigating a murder in small-town Mississippi.” See: http://filmfestival.tcm.com/programs/films/in-the-heat-of-the-night/

Tennessee Williams

Photo Credit: Google images

California’s Pasadena Playhouse (The Playhouse) presents its Four by Tenn, beginning February 27, and each Monday for four consecutive weeks. According to its announcement, The Playhouse will bring together ‘some of the best and brightest Los Angeles theater talent in a celebration of Tennessee Williams. Hear the words of one of the most legendary playwrights come to life as staged readings at the theater that premiered two of his early works, and now welcomes Al Pacino and Judith Light in the development production God Looked Away, a study of Tennessee at the end of his career.”  For more information and reservations: http://www.pasadenaplayhouse.org/twf

Smokey Robinson

Photo Credit:Evelyn Hockstein/Washington Post

The legendary crooner and former Motown Records vice president celebrated his 77th birthday on February 19. A Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Living Legend, Smokey has a series of recognitions, beginning with a Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI) award for songwriting early in his career, followed by Kennedy Center honoree, lifetime achievement awards from Black Entertainment Television and The Society of Singers, and he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Smokey has been inducted also into the R&B Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and most recently awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan said of Smokey, “He’s America’s greatest living poet.” The late singer Luther Vandross called Smokey the Shakespeare of Soul. It is estimated that Smokey Robinson has penned over 4,000 songs, including My Girl (The Temptations), My Guy (Mary Wells), Ain’t That Peculiar (Marvin Gaye), Don’t Mess With Bill (The Marvelettes), Here I Am Baby (Barbara McNair), and Tracks Of My Tears (The Miracles). Smokey Robinson continues to tour, write, and record with a noteworthy recent cover of his ‘Being With You’ as a duet with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige. www.SmokeyRobinson.com.

Written by Kato Cooks, RM Entertainment Contributor

 

 

 

 

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Quick Takes: PRINCE/FOUNTAIN THEATRE/CARLEASE BURKE/ENCHANT TV

Photo Credit:Google Images

PRINCE: The esteemed entertainment portal Shadow and Act follows up on an initial post by Screen Daily that a second Prince documentary, titled Prince: Pop Life, impends.  This documentary is said to feature exclusive footage and other extras. We’ll keep our eyes open for it as there isn’t a release date announced presently. More information: http://shadowandact.com/2017/02/09/a-second-prince-documentary-bio-is-in-the-works-promising-a-comprehensive-work-with-lots-of-exclusive-footage/

Photo Credit: The Fountain Theatre

FOUNTAIN THEATRE: Hollywood’s acclaimed Fountain Theatre, intimate theatre at its best, ends its run of writer/director Stephen Sachs’ wonderful globetrotting smash, Bakersfield Mist, on February 26. The production stars Jenny O’Hara and Nick Ullett reprising the roles they created with the show’s premiere at the Fountain in 2011. OnStageLosAngeles.com called it, “A brilliant new play.” Information and tickets: 323-663-1525 and http://www.fountaintheatre.com/event/bakersfield-mist-2016/

 

Photo Credit: Compersion/EnchantTV

ENCHANT TV: Award-winning filmmaker Jackie J. Stone launched Enchant TV in May 2016 with a commitment to ‘original programming with a kick.’ The launch of its topical and trending Compersion series met with critical excitement. Now preparing for season two, the production reopened its quest for crowdfunding with a direct appeal on its web site. View the gallery for Season One at: http://www.enchant.tv/new-gallery

Photo Credit: Google Images

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS: HBO has set an April 22, 2017 release date for this film adaptation of the biography and medical practice history by Rebecca Skloot. “Doctors took her cells without asking. Those cells never died. They launched a medical revolution and a multimillion-dollar industry. More than twenty years later, her children found out. Their lives would never be the same.” (from the book cover) Truth is more intriguing than fiction. Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne star. More: http://www.hbo.com/movies/the-immortal-life-of-henrietta-lacks

Photo Credit: Zimbo.com

CARLEASE BURKE: One of our favorite celebrities, the producer/director/actor/comedian Carlease Burke, is selling her Long Beach, California condominium “to help raise funds to care for a loved one.” We didn’t ask for details; we know Carlease and the hugeness of her heart, so here is some of what she wrote:

If you are looking for a charming spot near the ocean as your personal residence, an office or a relaxing getaway make an appointment to see it as soon as possible. You could also purchase it as an investment property since it comes with a bonus tenant! The current resident has rented from me for three years, pays his rent before it’s due and has never had a complaint.

We’ve got offers on the table so don’t hesitate if you want a piece of the action. Property is shown by appointment only.

Call Marilyn Jefreys at (949) 887-3454 to set up a time.

Click the following link to view the Listing:  http://www.carleaseburke.com/laugh-a-latte.htm

Written by: Käto Cooks, RM Entertainment Senior Editor

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RM Entertainment

What’s New with RM Entertainment?

RM Entertainment recently welcomed two new team members.  Please welcome, Curtis Han. As an RM Entertainment Contributor, he will provide fresh articles on your favorite television shows, films, celebrities and more. Curtis has you covered on all things SIZZLING in entertainment.

 

Curtis Han is a freelance entertainment writer, author and actor. He published his first story, “Chasing Innocence,” in 2013 and has appeared in films such as, Two Wongs Don’t Make a White and State of Desolation. His passion for the entertainment industry is what motivates him to write entertainment news. He’s written numerous articles for various web publications. In his spare time, he likes to spend quality time with his friends and watch amazing movies and Television Shows.

His passion for the entertainment industry is what motivates him to write entertainment news. Click To Tweet

Next, welcome Dani Powell to the team. She brings a unique spin to the RM Entertainment family. As the Original Story Contributor, she’s graced the site with a juicy narrative, Status…It’s complicated, guaranteed to have you coming back for your weekly fix as your taken on a journey through the ironies of life; in addition to a hot and steamy romance.  Status…It’s complicated is what’s hot in 2017.  Don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself. Exclusively on Entertainment.RenishaMarie.org.

Dani Powell was born in Fort Hood, Texas, into a military family. From traveling around the world as a child, and living with her late Grandmother in the country town of Warsaw, North Carolina from time to time, Dani gained an awakened perspective of the world. She was able to share these adventures with a younger brother and sister, with whom she is close. Upon graduating from high school in Chesapeake, Virginia, she began her own military career that continued to shape her life. After a successful naval career, Dani settled in southeastern Virginia with her family, where she currently resides. Through her publishing company, Pijon-Toed Publishing LLC, she wrote and published her first novel, New Beginnings. Dani is currently focusing on her writing career, exploring where her writing will take her, while she pursues an MBA degree.

Dani gained an awakened perspective of the world which she shares through her writings. Click To Tweet

 

Stay tuned. There’s more to come from RM Entertainment; your #1 entertainment source.

 

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KATO COOKS: HIS TRUTH BEHIND THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY (EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW)

In honor of Black History Month I would like you to journey with me back to a pivotal period in history where the Black Power movement arose.  Get ready to voyage back to 1966-1982; the era when the Black Panther Party originated. Prepare yourself to receive exclusive insight into the party as Black Panther member Kato Cooks gives us his truth behind the Black Panther Party.

Renisha Marie: Thank you Kato Cooks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to give us your truth behind the Black Panther Party.  Let’s dive right in.  Give us a little background about Kato Cooks.

 

Above Photo Credit: Kato Cooks, Black Panther Journalist

Kato Cooks: I was born in 1950, in New Orleans, La. I am the first-born of my parents, Raymond Cooks Sr. and Dorothy Bell Cooks, who were married prior to my conception. At the time, my father was in the U.S. Marine Corps; my mother worked for the U.S. Postal Service. My youth was spent, primarily, in Los Angeles, though I lived in Oceanside, San Diego, and Oakland (California) for short periods. My parents separated when I was in  Kindergarten and attending school in Oceanside.

Of my  parents, my father was my primary influence.  From him and my stepmother, Charlotte, I learned chivalry, altruism, family, critical thinking, and manhood. I never knew a day that my father was not in my life.

 

Above Photo Credit:http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/

Renisha Marie: What year did you join the Black Panther Party? Paint a picture with words describing the time, state of the economy (I.e. how much was gas and a loaf of bread? Who was president, and how were African-Americans viewed during the time).

Kato Cooks:  I joined in 1969, I think, after the LAPD assaulted the Southern California  chapter’s main office on Central Ave. Gas was 30 cents a gallon. Nixon was president. The Viet Nam War was raging; blacks and Latinos were invariably sent to the front lines of that war. And there was civil unrest, still, at home. Local law enforcement were on a rampage against all who didn’t fit a profile. Although blacks and Latinos were most often the targets of these local acts of state-endorsed terrorism, whites were not exempt.

Renisha  Marie:  What moved you to join the movement?

Kato Cooks: During the attack on the Southern California chapter’s HQ, I was working at KHJ-TV as a broadcast log keeper. I became aware of the spin that the newswire services applied to the reporting of the event. Newscaster Baxter Ward had endorsed me for a newswriting internship at the station and a scholarship to Columbia University’s School of Journalism. Because of that, I was paying a lot of attention to news operations at the station and noted that the spin waspig-speak and not news reporting. I was incensed and sought to help by
volunteering in any capacity the Party could use me.

Above Photo Credit: Kato Cooks, Black Panther martial artist instructor

Renisha Marie:  What role did you play in the party?

Kato Cooks: I began as a community worker, cooking and serving breakfast in the Party’s free Breakfast for schoolchildren Program, the first of its kind in the country.  I sold The Black Panther newspaper, worked in the Party’s Liberation School, and taught martial arts. Later, I wrote for the Party newspaper and other Party media. I was a member of the Party underground operation in the 70s, providing security and other services to Party programs and personnel.

Renisha Marie: How were women in the party treated?

Kato Cooks:  One of my friends from the Panther underground, Dale Rascoe, is writing a book, Guerilla Girl, about the treatment of women in the Party. I defer to her on the first-person details. I never witnessed the mistreatment but heard about it from women in the Party, usually long after the alleged incident(s) occurred.

Much of the interaction between men in the Party leadership and subordinate women was patriarchal in the worst ways, based on my observations. Women were commodities.  Some say that they were treated so badly that, after leaving the Party, they refused to acknowledge old Party acquaintances or converse with friends from their Panther days.

None of this was terribly surprising when one considers that the Party recruited heavily and easily from what was called the lumpen proletariat – the underemployed, unemployed, and unemployable. This included pimps, drug dealers, and thugs. With political education, you could end up with hoods possessed of a slick political line. In the best instances, you get someone like Bunchy Carter, founder of the gang that became the Crips. He was brilliant, charismatic, and committed to progressive social change. His hard edges, born of the street life, made him appealing to the ‘lumpen’ who would power the Party engine.

Unfortunately, often enough, I think, we had strong leadership qualities in some that were girded by violent, misogynistic underpinnings from the worlds of pimps and hustlers. That effectively turned the ‘revolution’ on its head.  As Dale told me in a recent conversation, the revolution needed to begin within the Party first. It didn’t. We lagged behind our message, behind our ideology. This didn’t change until the Southern California chapter reopened in, roughly, 1977, under the strong, principle-driven leadership of B. Kwaku Duren.

Above Photo Credit:http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/

Renisha Marie:  Describe some of the obstacles (if any) which the party had to overcome in order to keep functioning.

Kato Cooks:  The Party was destroyed, in great part, by its internal contradictions. Of course, the large-scale criminal activity of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies contributed to its destruction significantly. But what it needed to continue functioning was, in my view, more attention to those internal contradictions. With those shored up properly, external forces would have been impotent.

Interestingly, Elaine Brown, running the Party under Huey P.  Newton’s leadership during his exile, buttressed the Party’s future by mainstreaming its activities. The Party school in Oakland received an award from the State of California for its educational excellence. The Party’s many other programs were heralded far and wide. Upon Huey’s return from exile, the direction changed. It changed for the worse. Elaine speaks of it passionately in her book, A Taste of Power.

Above Photo Credit: Kato Cooks, Black Panther Journalist

Renisha Marie: Describe some of the most influential Panthers and the qualities they possess that made them so influential to the movement.

Kato Cooks: Huey P. Newton was the Party’s chief theoretician. He was light-years ahead of conventional thinking as it applied to social movements. Additionally, he was intellectually a giant. He essentially co-founded the science of social biology, co-authoring major monographs on the topic. Huey’s key writings were To Die For The People, and Revolutionary Suicide.

Bobby Seale  was the Party’s chief organizer. He was a vibrant, energizing speaker who spoke the common person’s language. He was expert at taking abstract concepts and breaking them down into easily digestible parts. And he was fearless. Bobby told  of the founding of the Party in his book, Seize the
Time.

Fred Hampton  was the common man’s man. He was eloquent. He was ‘street.’ He was an outstanding community organizer. Fred committed his every waking hour to the struggle. The Chicago power structure feared him and his influence so much that  they murdered him in his sleep.

Flores  Forbes is a name most won’t know but he wielded great influence within the  Party. He was the first armorer and the Party’s head of the Buddha Samurai, the ‘squad,’ the Party’s enforcers and security apparatus. He describes his role in  his book, Will You Die With Me?

Elaine Brown  ran the Party during its, arguably, most fruitful period. Starting in the Southern California chapter during Bunchy Carter’s time (he was deputy minister of defense), she was the deputy minister of information. She was moved to Oakland and helped form the city into the Party’s stronghold.

Above Photo Credit: Kato Cooks during ADR for Hibakusha (2012)/www.imdb.com

Renisha Marie:  In hindsight would you  consider the movement a worthy cause that has benefited the lives of others  today?

Kato Cooks: I have to  say, without a doubt, yes. The Party was the largest black, militant, political organization in this country’s history. Many of the Party’s innovative ‘survival  programs’ are now standard stuff: free breakfasts for schoolchildren, sickle cell anemia testing and research, free food programs, free medical clinics  (staffed by community people trained as medical assistants and lab technicians),  free busing to prisons program, and others.

Renisha Marie:  If you could go back in  time and change anything at all about the Black Panther Party, what would you change?

Kato Cooks: If I could change anything about the Party, I would change the outcome. Changing anything else would not guarantee a critically different outcome.

Above Photo Credit: Kato Cooks during ADR for Hibakusha (2012)/www.imdb.com

Renisha Marie: Do you have additional information regarding the party that future generations should know about? Information our future generations won’t find in their history books?

Kato Cooks: Future generations will do well to know these things:

1.The Black Panther Party was influenced by the Lowndes County Freedom Democratic Party and  used its symbol, the black panther; the Deacons of Defense; and, mostly, Malcolm  X.

2. Education was a cornerstone of the Party’s foundation. We read, and discussed what we read, extensively. The Black Panther Party reading list is available on its web site.

3. The Party was not racist. Its central committee contained Richard Aoki, an Asian brother who was, on a functional level, one of the Party’s founders. Key members of the Party leadership were white and Latino. Its indictments of the ‘white power structure’ reflected the ethnic (racial) characteristics of the power structure.  It was not an indictment of white people. It is important to note that pigs  (police, particularly) were – and are – of all ethnic groups.

4. The Black  Panther Party that’s in the news today is not associated on any level with the  Party founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby G. Seale in
1966.

5. The Party has a web site: http://www.itsabouttimebpp.com/. It’s run by Bill Jennings, a former Panther and aide to Huey. He is now the official Party
archivist.

6. The Party supported voter registration, Voting, running for office, and serving on juries.

7. The Party was felled by its internal contradictions more than by external forces (Mao called it).

8. The Party believed in dialectical materialism. It believed that only a current analysis of social conditions could be valid. In other words, don’t use Party ideas from the  70s to address 2014 problems without a fresh  analysis.

9. Anything you hear about the Party may be equal parts true and false. It depends, in great  part, on from whom you are hearing it.

10. The Party supported equal rights for all. Huey included gays specifically, writing in 1971 that a gay person could be the most revolutionary. Though the Party practiced ‘open love,’ a polyamory-styled, personal relationship structure, it was brutally patriarchal. This is where revolutionary principles failed to meet revolutionary practices.

 

The Party supported equal rights for all. Huey included gays specifically, writing in 1971 that a… Click To Tweet
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Exclusive Interview with John Pennington (VIDEO)

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks-John Pennington (Left), Renisha Marie (Right).

The internationally acclaimed Pennington Dance Group (PDG) is a modern dance company based in Los Angeles, California. They promote dance through performances, education, and outreach programs and has a home base at the fabulous ARC – Pasadena.

 

Follow me as we journey through the world of Founding Director of PDG, John Pennington.

 

Renisha Marie: Let’s discuss the revival of Bella Lewitzky’s 1969 On the Brink of Time, where you are the only dancer in the world authorized by her to perform the piece.

John Pennington: It was when the company was closing and she asked, “Is there any piece you would like to do?” And I jokingly said, “I’d love to do your solo.” And she said, “Sure. I think you can do it.”   So, I’ve been thinking that one should be careful of what they ask for. This was a piece that was on the cutting edge when it was made. Strobe lights had just come out and Morton Subotnick did the score. It was the first score made to a synthesizer; in 1969, it was on the cutting edge. One of the fun things was translating what was a solo for a female body onto a male body.

 

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Renisha Marie: Tell us your concept behind ‘Ungoverned Spaces, Part 1,’ where anything is possible.

 

John Pennington: I was reading the newspaper and they use that term for all the places in Iraq and what they call a fragile state. And, I thought, Oh! That’s like dance and like life. You never know what’s going to happen. One minute you’re here and maybe the next minute you’re not.  You get a phone call and suddenly you get cast in something and it could change your life. So, I thought how could I make a piece that I could deal with that kind of fragile space. It’s a duet. People disappear. They come back on. It’s done on two plexiglass stools. The idea is that they’re there; sometimes you can see them and sometimes you can’t; this idea of the space that keeps shifting and changing. The lights change and the music changes. It’s not chaos, but as an audience watches it they’re going to experience different things happening and it won’t follow logic for their brains.

 

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks.

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks.-John Pennington (Left), Renisha Marie (Right).

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Renisha Marie: What was your motivation behind ‘Company of Orbs’?

 

John Pennington: I have these very large lights and they were orbs. I have fifteen or twenty of them and I decided I wanted to make a dance based on an orb and what an orb meant; circularity, the most pure geometric shape. In the Utopian societies, most of their ground plans are built on a circle. All Kandinsky paintings; he was a painter from the 1930’s/40’s. He puts a circle in his paintings because he thought it was the purest of designs. I pulled in, wherever I could, ideas of circularity and design, but this idea of what is the perfect move; I don’t know if I achieved it, but that’s the idea of ‘Company of Orbs.’ It’s episodic. There are seven sections and they relate to each other. It’s different sections of William Duckworth’s music.

 

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Renisha Marie: Now let’s discuss ‘Skins and Screens,’ which allows us to look both ahead and back. What made you want to expound so creatively such a blissful perception?

 

John Pennington: Oh, [chuckle] thanks. This is a piece I created ten years ago and I decided I wanted to revisit it and look at it again. It’s a piece that, when I was thinking about skins, not only what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside. How do we look at what’s on the outside? Not just color of skin, but also what skin does. It breathes; it keeps things in, it keeps things out. The same idea with screens; you can see through them, but they serve two purposes. They keep things out and they keep things in. So, I was looking at that in terms of metaphor and in terms of the mind and also, even ten years later, were still dealing with even more intense issues of skin, of color, of people’s hearts. Particularly with the election going on right now. So, I think that dance can reflect a lot of what’s happening in culture and society.  I wanted to remake some of the choreography, so I did. I re-choreographed sections and made it tighter and more precise. It’s one of my pieces that’s a little more metaphorical, but I think anyone who watches it with the idea of what is a skin and what is a screen will get something out of it.

 

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Photo Credit: RM Ent./Kato Cooks

Website: www.PenningtonDanceGroup.org

Twitter: @johndanceLA

 

WATCH the full interview below!

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