PEOPLE OF NOTE: THE MUSICAL ‘SWEETEE’ LEAVES AN IMPACT

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The musical “Sweetee” with book, music and lyrics by Gail Kriegel, playing at the Ford Foundation Studio Theatre, located at 480 West 42nd Street in Manhattan, has a cast made in heaven. Every single actor, dancer and singer is perfect for their role. Jordan Tyson as Sweetee captures the essence of a poverty stricken interracial southern girl bred in the church. She has high moral values despite the fact her mother makes money the only way she knows how, on her back. Sweetee comes up in the South throughout the depression era of the late 1930s, early ’40s. A time when whites would shoot or lynch a black person simply for living.

Sweetee has a dream and a voice like an angel and the ambition to do something with it. She loves her mother but can no longer tolerate the conditions she lives under and longs for a better life. Naive, she runs away and joins a band of orphan musicians who are under the sponsorship of good looking, smooth talking Reverend Dan, portrayed by Jeremiah James, who has hopes for a better life for himself, his family and the band, but must live under the confines of the oppressive conditions of the South. Even though a white man and rebel at heart, he has no choice but to obey the Jim Crow laws imposed on his band. Rev Dan’s outspoken ways has gotten him and his wife banned from several churches. He places his hopes into his ragtag band of colored orphans anticipating they can open some charitable doors. Filled with optimism, Sweetee throws her lot in with the group and under Reverend Dan’s management travels from church-to-church attempting to eke out a living.

Cheated and often broke, Reverend Dan has difficulty coming up with train fare to get the band from town-to-town, until one day Sweetee and the band of musical orphans make the acquaintance of a streetwise, fast talking, happy-go-lucky talent named Cat Jones played by Jelani Alladin who shows the band the ways of the road. Cat joins the band imploring them to get off the church circuit and start playing and singing money-making popular feel-good music to the consternation of Rev. Dan. It wasn’t long before Dan and Cat clash.

The band starts doing well with the new music under the tutelage of Cat but when Rev Dan books them for a church gig in NY, the band is divided. Sweetee is torn between her loyalty to Rev Dan and her love for Cat. She feels a responsibility to Dan so accompanies him to her hometown as a singer and then New York, frightened the entire time her traveling with a white man through the South could get them both lynched.

Some of the musical numbers consist of: “Amazing Grace,” “Nothing Comes Easy,” “Dream Big,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” The show music is feel good music: uplifting, foot-tapping and joyous. The cast, consisting of Cedric Cannon whose baritone is a delight to hear; Katy Blake, Adante Carter, Hugh Cha, Dave Droxler, Morgan Siobhan Green, Amir Royale, and Katherine Weber. All of whom make “Sweetee” a pleasant theatrical experience.

“Sweetee” has a two week run and ends June 18. This is a play of picking oneself up by their bootstraps and despite hardships fulfilling dreams. “Sweetee” leaves the audience wanting more. Get your tickets now!!!

 

Deardra Shuler has experience in theatre, music, concert promotion, television and publishing. She was affiliated with the Negro Ensemble Company and is a former manager of the children’s theatre,”TADA.”

Deardra Shuler

She has produced and promoted concerts in Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, and Radio City Music Hall.  Ms. Shuler is the former Editor and Managing Editor of three New York City minority newspapers. Presently, she is the Entertainment Editor of The Black Star News. As a freelance writer she writes for several New York City newspapers; including the Examiner, Amsterdam News and EURweb.  Deardra has a column in California and is the former PR chairman for the FESPACO film festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Africa.  She is presently program manager for BlakeRadio.com where she also hosts her own show “Topically Yours.”

J.R. SMITH CLAIMS A HACKER SENT THAT ‘CAVS IN 7’ TWEET

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*Cleveland Cavaliers player J.R. Smith is denying that he sent a tweet following Game 3 of the NBA Finals that read, “Cavs in 7.”

The tweet appeared to signal his confidence that the Cavs will win the next four games to take home another NBA championship over the Golden State Warriors, but some fans felt the timing of it – minutes after losing 118-113 – was way too soon.

The tweet was eventually deleted from Smith’s timeline and the player has since denied even sending out the declaration.

He tells Cleveland.com, “I got out of the shower and my phone was buzzing. I did not tweet that. I’m smarter than that.” And while many NBA spectators thought it was too much, it did give high hopes for Cavs fans who fell to a dead silence in the last final minutes of Wednesday night’s game.

“I do believe, but I didn’t tweet that,” he told the outlet. “I would be much smarter than that than to tweet that at literally 12:04, right after the game.”

Game 4 of the finals is Friday at 6 p.m. in Cleveland.

Brandy Flaunts New Boyfriend

IMG_1737*Brandy has a new boyfriend that she wants all of us to see.

The singer-actress took to Instagram with pics of herself boo’d up with Sir the Baptist, a rapper and preacher’s kid from Chicago whose government name is William James Stokes.

His name suggests he could be a Christian rapper, but in an interview with Essence, the artist says he aims to be the “connecting piece between our spirituality and our day-to-day world.”

He told AllHipHop.com of his moniker:

My dad was a pastor of a Baptist church that ultimately became a Pentecostal church. So I wanted to reference where I came from. Names come from places, time, and people’s lives. Also, John The Baptist was the forerunner for Jesus Christ. Everybody knows Jesus Christ, but not many people know about John The Baptist. The one thing about John The Baptist is that he’s this voice crying out in the wilderness. Being an artist out of Chiraq, I feel like it’s the wilderness. I wanted to be that voice of reason in a place that’s a little disturbed.

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Nominations: 9 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

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Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet

CHAD BATKA

MAY 2, 2017 | 09:42AM PT

With a crowded field of contenders and no clear frontrunner, Broadway’s busy 2016-17 season was packed with potential for the Tony nominations. But with so much competition for so few slots, there were bound to be disappointments — not to mention a few impromptu celebrations. Who surprised? Who got snubbed? Here are nine big ones.

SURPRISE: “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812”
Dave Malloy’s quirky electropop opera had long been expected to do well with the nominations — just not so well that it would rack up a dozen noms, outpacing obvious favorites “Hello, Dolly!” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” The show’s nominations for new musical and score seemed assured, as did directing and design nods, but a nom for the book wasn’t a shoo-in, and it wasn’t clear how many of the cast members would make the cut in acting categories. Even topliner Josh Groban wasn’t a sure thing, since his title role of Pierre is an odd, retiring one, playing a major part in the proceedings (and singing a couple of big, notable songs) but lurking in the background for a lot of the show. Despite all that, the idiosyncratic show took the lead — thereby lending the musical a promotional boost that could help at the box office once it’s big-draw star, Groban, finishes off his stint in the show in July.

SNUB: “War Paint”
The compelling real-life story of dueling cosmetics titans, “War Paint” comes from a formidable team: songwriters Scott Frankel and Michael Korie, whose “Grey Gardens” was a Tony contender in 2007; Pulitzer and Tony-winning playwright Doug Wright (“I Am My Own Wife,” “Grey Gardens”) and “Dear Evan Hansen” director Michael Greif (“Rent,” “Next to Normal”). In another, less crowded season, the show would have vied for a lot more awards. But this year, with the best musical category sticking at four (rather than a possible five), “War Paint” was left out of the big race, as well as competitions for score and book (which went to the new musical nominees). “War Paint” claimed the two noms of which it was assured — acting nods for Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole — plus design slots for a set (David Korins) and costumes (Catherine Zuber).

SURPRISE: Denée Benton and Eva Noblezada
Both Benton (“Great Comet”) and Noblezada (“Miss Saigon”) had been tipped as possibilities for the lead actress race alongside sure-things LuPone, Ebersole, and Bette Midler (“Hello, Dolly!”). But the thinking in the industry was that at least one of the two open slots, if not both, would go to faves from previous seasons, Laura Osnes (“Bandstand”) and Phillipa Soo (“Amelie”). Instead, nominators chose two newcomers, making head-turning Broadway debuts, to round out the race.

SNUB: “Sunset Boulevard”
The biggest award contender for the current revival of “Sunset Boulevard,” Glenn Close, wasn’t even eligible since she’s reprising a role for which she’s already won a Tony. But the strong-selling staging was also left out of the mix for musical revival when nominators opted to reduce the category from four to three titles. The production was shut out of the nominations entirely.

SURPRISE: Cast sweeps
It’s no secret that the four-actor ensemble of “A Doll’s House, Part 2” is uniformly strong, with Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jayne Houdyshell, and Condola Rashad each giving distinct, memorable performances in Lucas Hnath’s best play nominee. Still, it’s a pleasant surprise to see all four of them snag nominations. Ditto the most prominent players in the now-closed “Falsettos” revival, with Christian Borle up for lead actor and Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, and Brandon Uranowitz in the mix in feature races.

NUB: Allison Janney, Mark Ruffalo, and Gideon Glick
Janney, who was a well-liked stage actor before she was an Emmy winner, is a favorite in the theater community, and she’s perfectly cast in “Six Degrees of Separation,” playing the role originated by Stockard Channing. She seemed a shoo-in for an acting nod. Among lead actors, Ruffalo, as the central character in “The Price,” and Glick, playing the charming wallflower who is the protagonist of play “Significant Other,” seemed likely to be celebrating this morning, too. But neither they nor Janney made the cut in formidable fields. The slots for lead actress in a play, for instance, went to five other notable names: Cate Blanchett, Sally Field, Jennifer Ehle, Laura Linney, and Metcalf.

SURPRISE: Dennis Arndt for “Heisenberg”
Simon Stephens’ quirky play “Heisenberg” was almost a stealth candidate this season: The Broadway production opened way back in the fall, and it was the transfer of a show that many in the industry had seen back when it played Off Broadway. Still, both its actors, Tony winner Mary-Louise Parker and Arndt, earned raves in the tale of an unlikely May-December sorta-romance. Nominators made a point of remembering Arndt, the veteran actor who made his Broadway debut in the Manhattan Theater Club production.

SNUB: “Anastasia”
When a five-nominee race for best musical seemed a possibility, “Anastasia” looked like a real contender for that fifth slot. It’s shaped up into a strong earner at the box office, drawing on an unexpectedly broad fanbase, and it comes from a team of Broadway veterans including songwriters Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty (“Ragtime”), playwright Terrence McNally (“Love! Valour! Compassion!”), and director Darko Tresnjak (“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder”). Lead actress Christy Altomare also seemed to have a shot at the lead actress. But nominators made other picks, and the show emerged with two noms, one for featured actress Mary Beth Peil and the other for costume designer Linda Cho.

SNUB: “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
It’s not that “Charlie” had been expected to do well with the nominators in a season jam-packed with new musicals. But it nonetheless seems significant that the high-profile and large-scale musical, a big bet by Warner Bros. Theater Ventures, was shut out completely. (Its lead actor, Borle, did get a nomination — but did it for his performance in another show, “Falsettos.”) On the other hand, “Charlie” probably doesn’t need the awards season love. The title alone is one of the strongest around, and the musical’s box office has only grown in the weeks since it’s started performances.

The 71st Tony Awards will be handed out in a June 11 ceremony emceed by Kevin Spacey at Radio City Music Hall.

 

SAG-AFTRA to Cover Performers at Billboard Latin Music Awards

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SAG-AFTRA has reached an agreement to cover performers at the 2017 Billboard Latin Music Awards.

The nationally broadcast award show will air live on the Telemundo network on April 27 and is produced by CMS Productions. The union made the announcement Wednesday.

“This is another historic moment for Spanish-language performers,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Successfully organizing the Billboard Latin Music Awards would not have been possible without the success of the Telemundo performers. This victory is another step in SAG-AFTRA’s efforts to organize throughout the Spanish-language media industries. We look forward to working with Telemundo again to positively impact Spanish speaking performers’ lives.”

In March, Telemundo’s telenovela performers voted  to join SAG-AFTRA following a successful organizing campaign. The Billboard Latin Music Awards contract will cover performers including members of the Miami-based professional dance community, which has also been organizing to improve conditions on Spanish-language television shows. The agreement also marks the first time that any Spanish-language awards show has been covered in Miami.

In 2016, SAG-AFTRA successfully organized Telemundo’s Latin American Music Awards in Los Angeles. The Latin Grammy Awards, broadcast on Univision and produced in Las Vegas, has been organized for years.

“This moment highlights why it’s important for the creative community to come together,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “When performers unite, they can create change in an entire industry. I am proud of our Spanish-language performers and am excited to work closely with Telemundo.”

Provided by Film Reporter@Variety_DMcNary

 

 

LIVESTREAM EVENT: “THE CIRCLE” FIRESIDE CHAT JOIN TWITTER CO-FOUNDER/CEO JACK DORSEY AND “THE CIRCLE” CAST EMMA WATSON, TOM HANKS, PATTON OSWALT AND FILMMAKER JAMES PONSOLDT

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EuropaCorp and STXfilms announce an intimate Fireside Chat today, April 24, for the highly-anticipated EuropaCorp thriller The Circle, based on Dave Eggers’ acclaimed novel. Twitter CEO & Co-Founder Jack Dorsey will join Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt and screenwriter/director James Ponsoldt to discuss the film and issues related to our modern socially-connected world and technology.
The chat will be livestreamed from The Circle Twitter handle (@WeAreTheCircle) today (April 24) at 11am PT / 2pm ET. The Circle will be released by STXfilms on behalf of EuropaCorp on April 28th.
Using the film’s provocative themes as a jumping off point, the hour-long chat will include topics of discussion such as diversity within the tech industry, leading a tech company, our data-driven world, and the boundaries of privacy online.
The Circle is a gripping modern thriller, starring Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”), Tom Hanks (“Sully”) and John Boyega (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”). When Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech & social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime.  As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family and that of humanity.
The Circle opens this Friday in theaters nationwide. Get Tickets Now: http://TheCircleTickets.com

ANTHONY BROWN’S ‘TRUST IN YOU’ TOPS GOSPEL DIGITAL SALES CHART; MOST ADDED SONG OF THE WEEK

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Anthony Brown’s Trust In You #1 Gospel Digital Sales Chart

*Trust in You — Anthony Brown & group therAPy continue to prove their ‘worth’ this week as the new single, “Trust In You,”  soars to  #1 on the Gospel Digital Sales chart this week. Also a critical success, “Trust In You,” is the most added song on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart.

Anthony Brown

“Trust In You,” marks Brown’s second single on this week’s Digital Sales chart as “Worth” continues to hold strong at #6.

The purposeful worship song showcases Brown’s songwriting prowess and exceptional ability to tap into the heart of a worshipper. He recently debuted the video for the song online to quick positive response. In recent times of uncertainty and doubt, Brown reminds us where to put our trust.

Brown & group therAPy continue to work on their ambitious third album A Long Way From Sunday slated for release later this year. Plans this summer include pop-up performances around the country as well as additional appearances. Brown also recently announced the launch of his new clothing line, Mercy Life + Apparel. 

Biography

After spending some fruitful years in the background, songwriter, arranger, and background vocalist Anthony Brown stepped forward in 2012 with Anthony Brown & group therAPy.

The strange capitalization referred to the group’s beginnings in 2000, when Brown launched the group Answered Prayers to showcase his songwriting. As Brown’s work played a role in hit gospel albums like Maurette Brown-Clark’s The Dream (2007) and Stephen A. Hurd’s Times of Refreshing (2009), Answered Prayers evolved into group therapy.

Three years of performances — 2006, 2007, and 2012 — on BET’s annual Celebration of Gospel special preceded their self-titled 2012 debut. Released by Tyscot Records, the album featured guest appearances from Maurette Brown Clark and VaShawn Mitchell. In 2015 they returned with Everyday Jesus, an album that featured the gospel chart-topping hit “Worth.” ~ David Jeffries

source
Jojo Pada
ignitionpr@gmail.com

Judge Allows Juveniles’ Lawsuit Against ‘Empire’ For Filming at their Jail

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Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon in "Empire" (FOX)

*On Thursday, an Illinois federal judge refused to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit against Fox drama “Empire” over the way it took over Chicago’s Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center to film several episodes.

As previously reported, two minors, through their legal guardians, filed a 12-count complaint in August 2016 on behalf of themselves and other youth in the facility alleging that officials at the detention center put them on lockdown so it could be used to film the episodes.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs say were ordered into “pod” areas at the detention center and sat there for days on end, depriving them of their normal school, the recreation yard, the library, the infirmary and the chapel. During this time, their sick requests were allegedly ignored and their family visits were eliminated.

The kids say some of those who were incarcerated had entered the jail having been diagnosed with a mental disorder and that the lockdowns were psychologically damaging. As for their claims that due process rights were denied, they allege the lockdowns weren’t rationally related to a legitimate non-punitive purpose.

U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve writes in an opinion that the plaintiffs have “plausibly stated” a claim. She adds, “In fact, Plaintiffs’ allegations regarding the denial of access to the infirmary and the rejected sick-call requests — alone — state an actionable claim.”

The judge, however, had doubts about Fox being named a co-defendant. St. Eve wrote that the plaintiffs “have failed to sufficiently allege that the Fox Defendants and any of the state actor/government Defendants reached an understanding to deny the juvenile detainees’ constitutional rights” and also isn’t impressed by many of the liability theories put forth including a conspiracy or a “respondeat superior” posit that officials were acting as Fox agents.

Nevertheless, she is allowing the plaintiffs to try again against Fox, particularly in regard to a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The judge also notes in a footnote the possibility of claims based on indemnification.

REGINA KING TO PRODUCE ‘NO PLACE SAFE’ DRAMA ABOUT ATLANTA CHILD MURDERS

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*Emmy-winning “American Crime” co-star Regina King has re-teamed with series creator John Ridley – (yes, that John Ridley, the one who doesn’t feel black women had or have a voice in the civil rights movement or the modern day black struggle, for that matter) – on a new project titled, “No Place Safe.”

For a bit of insight, read this article that Ridley penned a few years ago for Esquire to understand his disturbing mentally towards black people. And if that’s not enough, read EUR’s latest entry in which he defends his decision to shade black women cause he doesn’t date them. Dude is seriously mentally ill.

Meanwhile, King’s new drama centers on the Atlanta child murders, which has been set up at FX. King is set to star in the project as well as co-produce. The series is based on Kim Reid’s memoir “No Place Safe,” and inspired by her life story. ABC Signature Studios is producing, per Deadline.

OTHER NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED: ‘Guerrilla’ Creator John Ridley Defends Decision to Shade Black Women Because of Asian Wife

no place safe

Wendy Calhoun (Empire) is adapting the book, and will also serve as an executive producer with Ridley and fellow “American Crime” EP Michael McDonald, as well as Reina King and Regina King.

The Atlanta child murders occurred in Atlanta, GA from mid-1979 until May 1980. At least 28 black children, adolescents and young adults – mainly boys- were killed. ATL native Wayne Williams was arrested and convicted of two of the adult murders and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.

King’s series is part of an overall deal the actress recently inked with ABC Studios for her production company Royal Ties. King’s sister, Reina, serves as the company’s development executive.

Ridley is a frequent collaborator with McDonald. The duo executive produces Ridley’s upcoming limited series for Showtime/Sky Atlantic “Guerilla,” exec produced/co-starring Idris Elba. The film centers on an Indian woman who risked life and limb to defend black males.

WESLEY SNIPES SCI-FI THRILLER ‘ARMED RESPONSE’ SET AT SABAN FILMS

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*Saban Films has acquired North American distribution rights to “Armed Response,” a sci-fi thriller starring Wesley Snipes and directed by John Stockwell.

Anne Heche, WWE superstar Seth Rollins, Gene Simmons and Dave Annable also star in the film, which follows a team of highly trained operatives who find themselves trapped inside an isolated military compound after its AI is suddenly shut down. The crew begins toWesleySnipesCHIRAQNewYorkPremiere6rSlBZstIuKl-1 experience strange and horrific phenomena as they attempt to uncover what killed the previous team.

The project – from WWE Studios, Simmons and Erebus Pictures, with a script by Matt Savelloni – is now in post-production.