Monday, February 27, 2006

Madea Does it Again!

As far as the Hollywood Machine is concerned, Madea's Family Reunion had several strikes against it:

Over the years, studios have been reluctant to release films a.) with all-black casts b.) with female leads and c.) starring relative unknowns. Add in the fact that film critics nation-wide virtually ignored the film and most Hollywood insiders would predict a sure-fire flop.

(Boris Kodjoe and Lisa Arrindell Anderson)

Not the case with Tyler Perry's ridiculously successful Madea franchise. The film, which cost an estimated $6 million dollars to make, grossed over five times that amount this weekend, raking in a box office total of $30.25 million dollars.

Like it's predecessor, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion is a varied blend of a film; it mixes tough subject matters like domestic violence and child abuse, with soap-opera romance and Christian values. But where it really shines is with the character of Madea, herself, and her raucus brand of comedy.

(Blair Underwood and Rochelle Aytes)

Madea features solid performances from new faces, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Rochelle Aytes and Keke Palmer as well as veterans Blair Underwood, Lynn Whitfield, Cicely Tyson and Jennifer Lewis.

Tyler Perry is expected to release another Madea film next year with Lionsgate Films.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words [#003]: Separated at Birth?

Usher Raymond and Ben Vereen

These two performers share many talents but from these photos, it looks like they share the same gene pool.

Meagan Good and Robin Givens

We might be reaching with these be the judge!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Academy Award Countdown [#002]: Claudine

In 1973, Diahann Carroll received a Best Actress nomination for her performance as the title character in Claudine, a love story set against the trying times of the 1970s social services system. The role of a single mother on welfare was a huge stretch for the 60s glamour girl, who was sometimes criticized for her perceived distance from the struggles of African Americans during the civil rights era. Diahann Carroll's gritty performance in Claudine proved that the singer/actress was ready for more than just a close-up.

Joining Diahann is James Earl Jones.His booming energy and presence as Roop, a garbage man trying to fight for love is riveting. Other stirring performances come from Claudine's eldest children played by teen hearthrob Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Tamu Blackwell.

Strong performances by Carroll, Jones and the cast of children is one reason to check out this classic film; another is the soulful soundtrack by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Naomie Harris Sets Sail


You may remember Naomie Harris from her role as the bad-ass heroine of 2002's runaway horror film, 28 Days Later. Since her dark, zombie-fighting days, Naomie's career has seen the light.

MVC.1-SHEET.3FFrom last year's moderate success, After The Sunset, with veterans Pierce Brosnan, Woody Harris and Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris is on to uncharted territories in BOTH Pirates of the Caribbean sequels as Tia Dalma a Jamaican Gypsy.

She's also on-board the highly anticipated Colin Farrell/Jamie Foxx Miami Vice film as Jamie Foxx's reported love interest.

naomie_harris_02Along with fellow successful UK actresses Marianne Jean Baptiste, Sohphie Okonedo (both Academy Award nominees) and Thandie Newton, Naomie Harris is just one of several British thespians taking Hollywood by storm.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words [#002]: American Idol Amateurs Overshadow The Grammys


Showing no signs of stopping it's incredible 5th season run, American Idol crushed last night's 48th annual Grammy Award broadcast in the ratings...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Academy Award Countdown [#001]: Black Orpheus


As The Academy Awards approach, we thought it would be nice to highlight some films that have received cinema's highest honor (via either an Oscar win or nomination). The film to kick it off? The incomparable Black Orpheus.

This 1960 Oscar Winner for Best Foreign Language film retells the timeless Greek myth of Orpheus using lush Rio De Janiero as it's backdrop and an all-black cast.

blackorpheus3Black Orpheus is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, a couple whose love is destined, yet ill-fated. The charismatic leads, Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn, sizzle on screen while the rhytmic Bossa Nova soundtrack is sure to keep your ears pleased.

Take a trip to Brazil without leaving your living room couch and marvel at the beauty of this classic film. Romeo and Juliet eat your hearts out!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fresh Face [#004]: Fallon

Where have all the female emcees gone?

Lil Kim is in prison. Foxy Brown is suffering from hearing loss. Queen Latifah and Eve are seeking greener pastures in Hollywood, and Lauryn Hill is struggling to find herself. Where does that leave the future of hip hop music? We believe the answer is to be found in a new crop of lyricists eager to pick up where their predecessors left off.

Fallon is one of those young, hungry talents. The Harlem resident has fused impressively produced tracks with clever lyrics to establish herself as a formidable force in the world of indie hip-hop. Much like Jean Grae (a once-underground rapper on the fast track to becoming a household name), Fallon might just have what it takes to fill the shoes of the lyrical giants that have paved the way.

Learn more about Fallon and her music at MeetFallon.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Gold Hush: Black Actresses and The Oscar


Much has been said about Black actresses and their tumultuous relationship with Hollywood but nothing speaks more clearly than the history of Black women at the Academy Awards. After the recent Oscar nominations, we thought it fitting to take an in-depth look at this disturbing phenomenon.

Over the 77 year history of the Academy Awards, only 3 African American women have walked away with the coveted Oscar trophy.

Here is a list of women whose work has been acknowledged with nominations by the Academy:

Best Supporting Actress

1939: Hattie McDaniel*, Gone with the Wind
1948: Ethel Waters, Pinky
1959: Juanita Moore, Imitation of Life

1967: Beah Richards, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
1983: Alfre Woodard, Cross Creek
1985: Margaret Avery, The Color Purple
1985: Oprah Winfrey, The Color Purple
1990: Whoopi Goldberg*, Ghost
1996: Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets and Lies
2002: Queen Latifah, Chicago
2004: Sophie Okonedo, Hotel Rwanda

Best Actress

1954: Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones
1972: Diana Ross, Lady Sings the Blues
1972: Cicely Tyson, Sounder
1974: Diahann Carroll, Claudine
1985: Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple
1993: Angela Bassett, What's Love Got to Do with It
2001: Halle Berry*, Monster's Ball

(*) Indicates Academy Award Winners

While African American men continue to make strides at the Academy Award (a huge congratulations to Terrence Howard for his Best Actor nod for Hustle and Flow) black women are still far behind in quality roles that would warrant Oscar consideration.

Almost 70 years after the first black woman won an Academy award, African American actresses still have a long road ahead.