Shonda Rhimes pens new ABC series starring Kerry Washington

Who knew Shonda Rhimes could write an ABC series actually starring (wait for it) a Black woman? All snarkiness aside, the Emmy-award winning writer (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) is back at the Disney-owned ABC with another series called “Scandal.” The series will star actress Kerry Washington.

According to the entertainment blog Madame Noire:

The drama will star actress Kerry Washington, cutie Columbus Short, and a slew of others who play employees at a crisis-management firm; a bunch of shiny-suit wearing PR folks who work in fixing up the disastrous mistakes and moves of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Washington fills big shoes playing the head of the firm and the former consultant to the President of the United States, Olivia Pope.

Casting Calls for OWN!

Have you ever wanted to be on television? Are you missing Oprah Winfrey? Yeah. Us, too. But the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has a number of casting calls for a number of shows –everything from reality shows, talk shows, documentaries and investigative journalism.

Here’s a sampling and jump in where you can!

Brava, Miss Universe! Miss Angola gives an intelligent response to a dumb question

The southwest African nation of Angola won its first “Miss Universe” pageant. Leila Lopes won the title of Miss Universe 2011. Her response to one of the most insensitive questions is commendable and laudable and should serve as a guide for young, Black girls and teens.

When asked, “If you could change one of your physical characteristics, which one would it be and why?” Ms. Lopes responded:

“Thank God I am very-well satisfied with the way God created me, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I consider myself a woman endowed with inner beauty. … I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family, and I plan to follow these through the rest of my life. And now I would like to give all of you a piece of advice: Respect one another.”

Read more on CNN.com

Tia of “Tia & Tamera” shows her newborn son


Many will remember Tia Mowry-Hardrict and her twin sister Tamera Mowry-Housely from the syndicated series “Sister, Sister,” also starring Tim Reid and Jackee Harry, and others know Tia from the current series “The Game” –a spin-off of the cancelled “Girlfriends.”

Well, Tia is officially all grown up –if the sexy storylines in “The Game” didn’t convince you.

US Weekly magazine recently featured her and her now 2-month old son, Cree, and her husband Cory Hardrict.

Take a look at the new baby and catch Tia and Tamera on their own reality series on the Style Channel, “Tia & Tamera,” Mondays at 9/8c.

Job: CBS News Anchor for KPIX in San Francisco

News Anchor (req ID# 8813BR)

CBS Business Unit CBS Television Stations
Division/Station 1051/KPIX
Station KPIX-TV
Department News
Location California – San Francisco

Job Description

Description of Duties:
Anchor will provide news reports for KPIX-TV news programs. Anchor will participate in the selection of news information for presentation to the viewers. Must be able to gather, assemble and explain information on all stories assigned to you. Occasionally may be assigned to cover stories outside the station – on location. Write clearly and interestingly and use video and graphics to illustrate facts and ideas in the story. Anchor will interview guests appropriate to the stories being presented. Anchor should be up to date with current events. Will also be available to make personal appearances to promote the station. This position is represented by AFTRA.

Required Skills/Experience Requirements:
Must have at least six years of comparable television experience, with a minimum of 3 years as a news anchor, working in local market or network television news. Must have in-depth presentation and oral communication skills. Ability to collaborate effectively with a wide range of personnel. Must be able to do live reporting in an engaging and effective manner. Familiarity with the Bay Area extremely helpful. College degree required or equivalent experience.

Preferred Skills/Experience

Physical Demands:
Must be able to operate keyboard with accuracy and speed, and have a valid driver’s license in order to drive to reporting locations.

Additional Candidate Instructions

Submit resume to: https://sjobs.brassring.com/1033/ASP/TG/cim_home.asp?partnerid=25084&siteid=5128
KPIX/KBCW will no longer accept mailed, faxed or emailed resumes, please use the above link to apply. Must send tape separately.

Send tape to:
KPIX News Department
Attn: Assistant News Director
855 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Hours: As assigned
Work Days: As assigned
Date Posted: June 16, 2011

Job Status Full Time

First Lady Michelle Obama to appear on iCarly

First it was Sesame Street to promote healthy eating and fitness, and now America’s First Lady Michelle Obama is taking on a new cause: Support for military families.
According to the Associated Press, Mrs. Obama will be on the children’s series “iCarly” to promote her Joining Forces initiative. The episode is set to air in January 2012.

Join Actress Velina Brown in Kiss the Cook and Farmer, Too! A PBS 13-Part Series

Join San Francisco Mime Troupe actress and director Velina Brown who will host the 13-part PBS pilot series called “Kiss the Cook and the Farmer, Too!” Velina is the host of this for-PBS show, which hightlights sustainable agriculture and eating – from planting the greens, to raising the animals, to choosing the ingredients, to cooking it all just right, then eating!

The show is hosting a fundraiser for the series on Saturday, June 4, 2011 in Berkeley, California. Tickets are $150 each. The invitation is below:

Savory Thymes invites you

to a farm-to-table evening to benefit…
Kiss the Cook & The Farmer Too
A Public Television Series About Great Food & Sustainable Agriculture

Saturday, June 4, 2011
7:00 – 10:00 pm

Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, California

• Local & Seasonal Food and Drink
• Live Music by The Creole Belles
• Sneak Preview of the Series Pilot Organic Roots
• Prizes of goods and services from local farms and sustainable businesses

Ticket Price: $150.00. All ticket purchases are fully tax deductible.
Contact Jan Camp about group tickets without vendor fees.
Tickets by Credit Card
(through Brown Paper Tickets)

Purchase PayPal Tickets on the series
website at:

CookAndFarmer.com
Tickets by Check to:

Community Works West
1535 Juanita Way
Berkeley, CA 94702

The Game creaters sign new deal with BET

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Salim and Mara Brock Akil, executive producers of The Game, have signed a multiyear development deal with BET through their Akil Productions.

Mara created The Game, which premiered to 7.7 million viewers in January, becoming the No. 1 sitcom in ad-supported cable TV history.

NBC keeps it classy with Miss Universe promotional photos

The Miss Universe pageant is giving the public an eyeful of why they’re the classiest pageant on television.  Since Donald Trump began producing the show it’s kind of become the skank at the debutante ball… you know, she’s pretty but there’s something that’s a little bit off…

Not one to be outdone, Mr. Birther himself has never held the mantle for tasteful self promotion.

Trump’s track record with Miss Universe has cause some eyebrows to raise, even when he came out in support of one of its more controversial contestants, Carrie Prejean, who spoke out against gay marriage during the pageant and was later quoted as saying, “The president of the United States, the secretary of state, and many Americans agree with me in this belief,” a twisted version of Trump’s original comment of, “It’s the same answer that the president of the United States gave…She gave an honorable answer. She gave an answer from her heart.” Trump’s never shied away from controversy or as appearing like he’s crazy like a fox.

Since that fiasco, the attention surrounding the pageant seems to be getting increasingly kooky and the show hasn’t been able to get its bearings ever since.

It seems that their recent attempt to put a 21st century spin on the pageant’s roots as a “bathing beauty” contest that was sponsored by Catalina Swimwear has them putting their 2011 contestants back into swimwear..minus the tops.

The racy promotional photos even prompted former pageant worker Angie Meyer to remark to FOX News that, “It’s alarming that this has been turned into a Playboy-esque masquerade.”

Granted, we’ve seen worse decisions in using women to promote ratings; however, this particular controversy has produced another issue that we’ve seen before –the presentation of the Black woman’s body to attract attention and, apparently, shock and awe.

The image that the media is presenting is strikingly only one, that is, one of an unnamed Black contestant.

Beautifully regal and alluring, and a bit racy, the photo is tame compared to many in fashion magazines and on billboards; however, it seems to be the Blackness of the contestant that’s freaking out the public.

So a larger question for this photos is: Are people upset that the contestant is scantily clad (even though Miss Universe contestants prance out in swimsuits), or that the picture picked up by the media is that of a gorgeous Black body.

Unlike many images that sexual-ize and fetish-ize the Black female body, this contestant’s body isn’t photographically cropped to focus on specific body parts, and she’s not being presented as some exotic siren out to destroy all manhood. Nor is this image that of the subservient eye candy that’s presented in child-like candy pinks for serving sexual fulfillment –like a blow up toy.

Personally, I could care less about the Miss Universe Pageant and Donald Trump (including his tasteless show “The Apprentice”), but I do think that the photos present an opportunity for dialogue around how women –especially women of color– are presented to a larger society that has traditionally controlled how the image of Black women is presented.

Can Sistas Get Some Props… Please?

It’s bad enough that the new swarm of reality series populating NBC, VH-1, and Bravo, are carbon copies of series where Black women viciously attack one another over seemingly mind-numbing issues like talent (or lack thereof), clothing (or lack thereof), and a job (or lack thereof); but while we were distracted with that, we failed to see the trickling of biters that have been stealing the look, style, and features of Black women who shine in film, television, and music.

We all know how badly the American and European public talked about our rumps up until the early-1990’s when rapper and DJ Sir Mix-a-lot created a parody song celebrating le derrière suprême of Black women. MTV played the video until it became a monster hit on cable video stations and in clubs.

Then, emerging star (and former “In Living Color” Fly Girl) Jennifer Lopez magically received media approval for her gluteus maximus. Even Black men were publicly proclaiming her butt as a work of art –while suspiciously ignoring Black women with comparable and favorable public proclamation. There were tweets about her butt, rap lyrics, and more.

Then came Angelina Jolie’s lips… the same type of lips that had gotten Black women teased, dissed, ignored and scowled at. The same lips that drew comments like soup coolers, DSLs, and other crude and derogatory terms; but somehow Angelina Jolie made them haute couture.

So now it seems that some non-Black women are swiping our looks…again.

As all of these women are beautiful in their own right, it seems like Black women just can’t get any respect for our unique beauty, our fashion innovation, our style, or our physical appearance, without someone wanting to co-op it to push their own career.

So here’s to the new crop of biters. Take a look and tell me what you think…

 

Two can’t-miss showings on PBS from Women Make Movies

According to distributor Women Make Movies:

On March 29, WMM films will air nationally on PBS and on The Documentary Channel.

New WMM acquisition PUSHING THE ELEPHANT, directed by Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel and produced by Katy Chevigny and Angela Tucker, will have its broadcast premiere on PBS, Independent Lens. This powerful story introduces us to Rose Mapendo, who lost her family and home to the violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo, then joined the growing number of immigrants in Arizona with nine of her ten children. She emerged from the horrors of war advocating reconciliation and peace in this joyful, hopeful, and moving chronicle of the healing power of forgiveness.

A prominent voice in the civil rights struggle is profiled in BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS, directed and produced by actor LisaGay Hamilton, with co-producers Neda Armian, Jonathan Demme and Joe DiViola, and will air on The Documentary Channel. This film celebrates the life of legendary African American actress, poet and political activist Beah Richards, best known for her Oscar nominated role in GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER.

Check your local station for listings.

BBC’s “Being Human” airs Saturdays at 9 p.m.

You know that I’m a fan of the BBC’s original series “Being Human”… even more so than SyFy’s watered down version.

Needless to say, I believe that the viewer should come to their own conclusions given all of the episodes.

If you’re interested in seeing what all of the buzz is about, the BBC’s “Being Human” will be showing their fourth episode this Saturday at 9 p.m. on BBC America.

You’ll have a chance to check in because there’s only been a showing of three episodes so far, and if you catch up with those episodes OnDemand or through the BBC’s smart programming (which always precedes the new episode with one or two of the previous ones), I know you’ll be hooked.

The U.K. has been hitting the ball out of the park for the past couple of years, specifically in regards to casting opportunities for Blacks in film and television. Maybe it’s the fact that they embraced the abolitionist movement and eradicated slavery in the British Empire more than 30 years before the United States (with the notable exceptions “of the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company,” the “Island of Ceylon,” and “the Island of Saint Helena“).  Then again, I could be wrong…

“Being Human” is in its third season and, so far, this season doesn’t disappoint.

Episode 4 turns up the heat on the monster lair and finds the werewolf couple Nina and George in the very real possibility of having puppies, while the sexy vampire Mitchell and the permanently nice and ethereal ghost Annie (played by Lenora Crichlow) see how far their mutual crush can go.

Be sure to catch the re-airing of Episode 3 before the premiere of Episode 4. In Episode 3 an indignant drunk zombie named Sasha (“Like the Beyonce album…”) chases Annie all the way home and the monsters have to make a decision of letting in her decomposing body or leaving her on the lawn until she (ahem) cools off.

The zombie episode is pure “Being Human” with its cheeky references to pop culture, soccer wives and the club scene. (Yes, Sasha tries in vain to keep up her looks and doesn’t disappoint when she drops it like it’s hot on the dance floor way into her decomposition…)

Catch the BBC’s “Being Human” on Saturday, March 12, 2011, at 9 p.m., and be sure to check in early to see a re-airing of last week’s “Sasha” episode.

 

Presto-Change-o! Who are you? Being Human on SyFy

I am a die-hard Being Human fan. Let’s start there.

I’m not talking about the American version on the SyFy channel, but the real, hardcore, original version from the U.K.’s BBC.  I’ve been a vampire movie genre fan since I read Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice while I was a freshman in high school. Of course, the latest manifestations of vampires appear to be a battalion of pout-mouthed, cherry lipped, 17-year old Duran Duran rejects who were turned while still in high school. (That gives a whole new meaning to bullying.) All of the new vampires look like they borrowed they’re girlfriend’s Bonnie Bell Cherry lip gloss –you know, because vampire lips get so chapped.

Then came along a much hunkier, manlier, raven-haired, man-candy, U.K. version of a televised vampire –Mitchell. (I have a co-worker who clued me in to this special, and, needless to say, Mitchell [played by the Irish-born Aidan Turner] apparently gets a thumbs up from large swath of middle-aged African American women. Make sure to watch last season’s episode where they flash back to the 1960’s –hottie alert!)

Aside from the incredibly imaginative writing and spot-on acting, I was also hooked on the fact that the resident ghost –of an ensemble of a werewolf, vampire and ghost–  was an actress of obvious Black heritage!  Annie (played by the beautiful Trinidadian and English actress Lenora Crichlow) is an awesome actress and perfectly fits in the ensemble!

Even though the British got the whole monarchy thing wrong —and I can say that because I’m a direct descendant of King Edward I of England, Joan of Arce, et al… no joke– the one thing they seem to get right all the time is the casting of Black actors. (Think: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Sophie Okonedo, et al.)

Not only was Annie a resident ghost living with a vampire and a werewolf, she was cast as a third actor in an ensemble piece, not as “The Black Ghost” who makes sure to roll her neck/pop her gum/give a good sturdy, Hmmph!/smack her lips/put her hands on her hips before she manifests or disappears. She’s just one of the lead actors! Brilliant.

Believe it or not, Annie the Ghost also has a comparable number of storylines to the other leading actors –both of whom are white. Being Human (UK) has kept me enthralled every season with their great acting and writing.

Then SyFy makes a big announcement in January 2011 that they’re making an American version (read: sucks) of Being Human.

What?! Are you people on crack? That was my first thought. Then I got angry.

Oh please, oh please, don’t mess this up! I kept my fingers crossed and silently fumed at the thought of an American version of yet another BBC series. (Let’s not forget Da Ali G Show, Celebrity Fit Club, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, and American Idol. I think the only one we got right was Three’s Company.)

Let me state now that I don’t hate American television.

I just hate it when a network gets soooooo lazy that they have to import shows that have well-produced, intelligent storylines. I’m sure there are thousands of screenwriters out there who have imaginative, thoughtful, and smart scripts that are just waiting to be discovered in Hollywood…but apparently they’re no tgetting hired –especially in television. It usually takes a premium cable channel like HBO (Deadwood, The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome) or Showtime (Dexter, Weeds) to present excellent programming. But I digress…

So SyFy produces their own version of Being Human. I’m peeved off and intrigued at the same time. First, the whole copying thing just got to me. And second, I was really interested on who they would select to play the role of the ghost. (Let’s be frank, I’m sure they don’t plan on putting to white male actors out of work in a remake, so I’m just worried about the role of Annie.)

The commercials had me a bit concerned, but I stuck it out and decided to give it a chance.

The U.S. version of Being Human is pretty good –but not as good as the U.K. version. (Please catch the U.K. version! They just started the 3rd Season!) It’s passable, though. So far, a lot of people like this show…I’m sure it’s because they’ve never seen the original.

One big gripe I have about this show. Who in the hell cast the role of the ghost?

I was worried about that role because I’m very aware of the trivial casting of Black women in any role in the United States. The role of the ghost is played by Meaghan Rath. Um, she’s Canadian. Let me just get that out of the way.

I’m sure the gorgeous Ms. Rath is a wonderful person and a wonderful actress; however, I’m protective of my show and the role of Annie (named Sally in the U.S. version). Granted I don’t have any stock or personal finances involved with Being Human (U.K.), but I still like to think that as a fan, I have some creative license over the remake of the show –as crazy as that sounds.

Get to the Point

I’ve already harped on the significance of the ghost being played by an obviously Black/bi-racial woman and not having her race as a central figure to her character, but come on.

I was holding out for a thread of hope that the role of Annie would be somewhat in tact and that the role would be a fantastic vehicle for an African American actress. Now, there’s no reason to request that SyFy make some sort of statement that Sally the ghost is Black (or some variation, thereof), but there does need to be some statement as to why they chose a Canadian actress who the average American audience would assume is Latina, Middle Eastern or “swarthy”… i.e., anything but obviously Black. Granted, I’ve got a good nose for finding out who’s Black (a hobby of mine), but the average person doesn’t know and they definitely don’t care. I mean, one less role given to an African American actress means nothing to many people who think it doesn’t matter, but then again, few of them can name three movies with a competent, intellectual, Black woman character.

Lenora Crichlow plays Annie in the U.K. version of "Being Human"

So my spidey senses are really tingling now because I need some sort of explanation from SyFy –like, a backstory, an acknowledgment that they changed the character on purpose, etc. I mean, for what reason did they feel the need to go with a woman of inexplicable racial background and downplay any obvious semblance of being Black ? (I’m talking about the character, not her.)

I don’t need a genealogical chart or a census form, but I do need some acknowledgment that they’ve stayed true to the intent and background of the character.

The other two characters are still obviously white, right?

In episode three (“Something to Watch Over Me”), we get a bit of a backstory on the mysterious ghost Sally. They show her headstone and her name is —Sally Malik? Now, I’m not arguing that she’s “not Black”. I don’t go into those territories because I understand identity, multi-racialism, etc., and I can probably name off everything she’s mixed with. What I’m saying is that to an American audience that is still struggling with racial expression, racial dialogue, and racial understanding, I found her role to be a poor choice in 2011. SyFy is not making some big statement other than going with the status quo.

I don’t know who they actually auditioned, but I can think of six African American actresses off the bat who could have played the role, namely: Raven Symone (That So Raven), Rutina Wesley (True Blood), Katerina Graham (Vampire Diaries), Meagan Good (Cold Case, The Unborn), Heather Hemmens (“Hellcats”) and Tia Mowry (The Game).

So, for whatever it’s worth, I say watch the original Being Human series on BBC and see if you feel the same way about the casting choices. And if you get anything out of this posting, understand that intelligent, meaty roles for African American women are few and far between and it’s up to us (who care) to let television stations know by asking some pertinent questions, do some critical thinking, getting stations to respond to your concerns, or just not watching it.

Mrs. Goundo’s Daughter to Air on PBS Feb. 9th

According to an announcement from Women Make Movies:

“Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater’s stirring film, MRS. GOUNDO’S DAUGHTER, will premiere nationally on AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, on PBS, February 9, in honor of the United Nation’s International Day of Zero Tolerance to end Female Genital Mutilation (February 6).

The film tells the story of one mother’s fight for political asylum in the United States in order to protect her daughter from the traditional practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) and the legal ramifications of doing so.”

  • Female genital mutilation (FGM) includes procedures that intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
  • The procedure has no health benefits for girls and women.
  • Procedures can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.
  • An estimated 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of FGM.
  • It is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and age 15 years.
  • In Africa an estimated 92 million girls from 10 years of age and above have undergone FGM.
  • FGM is internationally recognized as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

There are few who have addressed this issue publicly due to the social and cultural stigma attached to those still practicing FGM and those who feel pressure from their communities to have their daughters go through an often unsanitary and traumatic experience that plagues girls and women for the rest of their lives.

the United Nations Population Fund claims that, “Female genital mutilation, or cutting, predates Christianity and Islam – it is thought to have originated in the time of the pharaohs,” but there’s no concrete evidence of this. What is true is that FGM is a social practice –not a religious one– and it is practiced in primarily Muslim countries or in immigrant Muslim communities including  in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

More about Female Genital Mutilation:

Brick City returns to the Sundance Channel January 30th

Only of the best series about the real struggles of a city trying to rebuild itself and its reputation, “Brick City” is one of the best “reality” shows on television. When asked to describe it, the only thing I can think of is a real-life version of “The Wire”. You see a city in disrepair as everyone from the police department, neighborhoods, ex-cons, gang members and the embattled Mayor of New Jersey Corey Booker, build miracles out of the impossible, and rebuild their lives after tragedies.

“Brick City” won a Peabody Award and was a 2010 Emmy nominee. Don’t miss it.

Grey’s Anatomy Writer/Producer to Pen New Show

According to television blog Vulture, Grey’s Anatomy writer and producer Shonda Rhimes is set to pen a new television show based on a crisis-management public relations firm, and based on celebrity publicist Judy Smith. (Judy Smith cleaned up the crises surrounding Michael Vick and Bill Clinton, and others.)

[picappgallerysingle id=”3961917″]

The show will premiere on ABC. There is no launch date or casting announcement as of today.

Beyonce Ad Banned in the U.K.

(Add your opinions at the end!)

The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Association (“ASA”) announced on Wednesday that the commercial for (singer, actress and brand) Beyoncé’s fragrance “Heat” is being banned in the United Kingdom. The commercial was marketed through Coty U.K.

Coty is a $4 billion a year company who regularly licenses it’s brands with celebrities.

Amidst the gushy and sweet pending nuptials of Prince William and Katherine Middleton, the ASA broke the news broke that Ms. Beyoncé’s, “(B)ody movements and the camera’s prolonged focus on shots of her dress slipping away to partially expose her breasts created a sexually provocative ad that was unsuitable to be seen by young children.” Beyoncé collaborated with Coty

Considered a pop icon in the United States, Beyoncé’s body movements haven’t blinked an eye, especially in light of the over-the-top gyrations of Shakira, Lady Gaga and others.

Viewers have challenged the ban, but as of November 19, 2010, the ASA upholds its decisions.

According to the BBC, Coty defended their decision and supported Beyoncé’s commercial stating that “it was aimed at a young adult audience and was consistent with, if not less graphic, than many music videos.

I agree with the Wall Street Journal in their brilliant assessment that, “In other words, it pretty much looks like every video Beyonce has ever made.”

What will be interesting is the commercial that Coty U.K. will plan as a result of their partnership with the outrageous –and borderline offensive– Lady Gaga. On November 11, 2010, Coty announced their plans to launch Lady Gaga’s first signature scent.

We’ll see if she gets banned…

Brava to Sesame Street!

Most Generation-Xers (those born between 1961 and 1981) have fond memories of “Sesame Street.” It was decidedly urban, inner-city and positive, and showed a diverse community filled with African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and everything in between.

I highpoint of “Sesame Street” is their educational videos that teach children basic skills and positive behaviors while using fun lyrics and music.

This time “Sesame Street” has introduced a video teaching young girls of color (or anyone with coarse or non-straight hair) to love their bushy ‘fros and natural hair! This message is impact-filled in that it’s the opposite of what young girls and women see everyday online, on television, in films, and in media. We can even look to magazines that supposedly cater to the Black community and rarely will you see a Black woman without straightened hair –chemically or flat-ironed.

Granted, straightened hair is a styling choice, but the proliferation of it as a representative of Black women around the world is shattering. The message is seemingly that the natural appearance of Black women is unacceptable, ugly and not the standard of European beauty, therefore, companies spend billions of dollars selling us products (that have no long term health studies associated with them) to tell us to change what we can to appeal to a “wider audience.”

Some actors have seen their value rise by straightening out the kinks and desperately following a European standard of beauty –some to the point where you have to question their mental health. However, when women-of-color are bombarded by the constant images of European standards of beauty, and more men of color (not just Black men) are choosing those standards as a “trophy” or as a template of women of color should look like, you can’t blame some women of color for drinking the Kool-Aid.

Personally, I’ve worn my hair “natural” for over 15 years (it was chemically-relaxed until from age 16 to 24 years old). Though I understand why African American women do it (family pressure, peer pressure, media reinforcement, playground taunts, etc.), I’ve never commented to any woman about “needing to go natural.” However, I cannot count the number of times women with chemically-straightened or flat-ironed hair have made negative comments or (literally) glared at me with a snarl in an elevator, on the subway, in the workplace, etc., etc., etc. With the “Sesame Street” video it is teaching our young girls early that a rite-of-passage doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with your first chemical burn or rantings about “not scratching your head” the night before a caustic agent is placed on their hair to straighten it.

With a younger generation of Black girls, hopefully, the adults will make a better effort at instilling pride in their hair in it’s natural state and the endless styles they can create from them. Willow Smith, daughter of Jada and Will Smith, is adding to the new acceptance of a natural hair aesthetic with the seemingly contradictory song, “I Whip My Hair (Back and Forth)”.

Seeing the irony of the song, Fraggle Rock Nation has even produced a remix of the video, which shows that people are at least thinking deeper about the implications of a natural hair aesthetic for Black women in popular culture.

With more acceptance of different hair textures, colors, looks, and self-defined styles, hopefully, we will need fewer videos like this one. But for now, “Sesame Street” deserves one big BRAVA!

Kennedy Center Honors Oprah

The 33rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors will honor talk show queen, actress, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey on December 5, 2010!

Ms. Winfrey will end her talk show in 2011, and is re-focusing her empire building on media and her own television network named (you got it) OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.

[picappgallerysingle id=”9082218″]According to CNN.com’s Marquee Blog:

“For more than 25 years, Oprah Winfrey has established one of the most innovative careers in the entertainment world, with distinctive accomplishments in television and film,” the Kennedy Center’s Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a statement.

Oprah has accomplished what many have tried, but many have not achieved. She’s an accomplished actress (remember “The Color Purple,” “Beloved” and “The Women of Brewster Place”?), producer with her own production company, television executive and media magazine (“O Magazine”).

Many have compared her to Martha Stewart, but Martha Stewart can’t act.

Ms. Winfrey will get her due alongside such luminaries as dancer and Tony Award-winning choreographer (“FELA!” and “Spring Awakening”) Bill T. Jones (brother of San Francisco performing artist Rhodessa Jones), and others.
CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 10: Oprah Winfrey in the audience during the 38th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Mike Nichols held at Sony Pictures Studios on June 10, 2010 in Culver City, California. The AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Mike Nichols will premiere on TV Land on Saturday, June 25 at 9PM ET/PST. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)NEW YORK - JUNE 13: Actor Bill T. Jones attends the 64th Annual Tony Awards at The Sports Club/LA on June 13, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)

Gala will be broadcast on CBS on December 28, 2010 at 9:00-11:00 p.m., ET/PT

Teen pregnancy! Public drunkeness! Manslaughter! Adultery! Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars…

The new cast lineup for Season 11 of “Dancing with the Stars” is all confirmed and ready to go. This year –as with most– the lineup of “dancers” gets more and more interesting. However, the shows producers must have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor because this year’s line up closely resembles the cast of any Seth McFarlane cartoon.
BEL AIR, CA - JULY 12: Singer Brandy attends professional tennis player Serena Williams' Pre-ESPYs House Party held at a private residence on July 12, 2010 in Bel Air, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for SW)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MAY 05: Actress Florence Henderson arrives at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' 3rd Annual Academy Honors at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 5, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)44198, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Monday August 30 2010. Bristol Palin, the daughter of former US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah, joins the rest of her Dancing With The Stars castmates at STK. Photograph:  Hellmuth Dominguez, PacificCoastNews.comAug. 29, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - MIKE ''the SITUATION'' SORRENTINO .filming the ''Jersey Shore'' in Seaside Height Beach.in New Jersey 8-29-2010 . 2010..K66211JBB. © Red Carpet Pictures05 May 2010 - New York, NY - Margaret Cho. The 2010 A&E Upfront at the IAC Building on May 5, 2010 in New York City. Photo Credit: Paul Zimmerman/AdMedia

With the current mix of reality and real stars (some are just reality blips, not stars) I’m waiting for the first ever on stage brawl or at least “call out”. Or maybe I’d just settle for slight mayhem.

“Dancing with the Stars” has become a creepy mea culpa comeback show for those trying to get out of the dog house, or at least trying to get their careers back on track. Some “stars” are really dancers, or at least make a concerted effort. Others, not so much. (Remember Kate Gosling?)

This year’s lineup includes singer and stunt driver and recently re-anointed reality star, Brandy. For those who remember, she was the bright and sunny, up-and-coming R&B/pop singer from the 90’s whose hit song, “I Wanna Be Down”, shot up the charts.  She was a bright spot for a lagging R&B industry and later sang a duet with fellow ingenue Monica, and often gave guest appearances in her videos to her brother, Ray J –now star of his own stupid reality show, “For the Love of Ray J.” (Yeah, I don’t watch that show –can you tell?)

Well, Brandy has some stiff competition on DWTS, starting with “Jersey Shore”‘s own Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s hair and abs.

You know who else doesn’t have abs of steel? Me and Bristol Palin, but she had a baby at 17 for her abs. She’ll be on the show, too.

Comedian and actress Margaret Cho will also be on the show, alongside Florence “I-Like-‘Em-Young” Henderson.

For a complete line-up, visit “Dancing with the Stars“.