Oscars revert back to old ways

Not that I need validation, but guess what? CNN.com is asking the same questions about diversity and the Oscars. There were high hopes –well, sort of– when Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammie” in the big screen version of Gone with the Wind… then it took 62 years for a Black woman to get another Oscar®. Then there was a breath of fresh air as Mo’Nique won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the movie Precious, and Geoffrey Fletcher won for Best Adapted Screenplay. As the years between Oscar-wins for African Americans got shorter, there were many people in the film industry who assumed that would indicate that Black actors were now just being considered “actors” and not “Black actors” who are relegated to straight-to-video “urban” gangsta films.

Wrong!

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Regardless of the slew of Blacks in front of and behind the camera at last year’s Academy Awards, apparently 2010 just couldn’t cut it. Even though there were some brilliant Black actresses in leading films (Rashida Jones, The Social Network and Yaya DaCosta, The Kids Are Alright) a sister (or a brother) just couldn’t get any recognition.

According to CNN.com:

This year there was a decided dearth of diversity in the Oscar nominations. There are no women or people of color among the director nominees, and the acting nominees are all white. Javier Bardem, who is up for best actor for his role in “Biutiful,’ is a Spaniard and therefore European.

So what does it take for Black actors and filmmakers to get any real recognition at the Oscars? I have no clue. And apparently neither does the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science.

Read the entire article at CNN.com.

Press: Columbia/Legacy Honors the 50th Anniversary of Aretha Franklin’s Pop Recording Career With a Deluxe Box Set

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin has had her share of heartache, celebration and obstacles, including her latest recovery from pancreatic cancer. She is quintessentially the personification of what “soul” would sound like manifested in a  For almost fifty years, Ms. Franklin has ruled what it means to sing “soulfully” and has been the prototype of talent wrapped in spirit and body. (Let’s not forget that she is an accomplished pianist and songwriter.)

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The past week has had stories and rumors about the Queen’s biopic on the big screen. Actually, a biopic on Ms. Franklin is way overdue considering how Hollywood loved Ray Charles’ biopic, and the biopics of other male stars. This is the first biopic since Lady Sings the Blues that a biopic centering on a Black female singer has been –and, no, Cadillac Records doesn’t count, and Dreamgirls was fiction.

Ms. Franklin publicly voiced her support for Halle Berry to play her in the film. According to news reports, Ms. Berry was a bit reticent at the thought of playing the legendary Franklin. Some viewed Halle’s concerns as an insult of portraying Franklin as she has appeared to the public in the later part of career –i.e., in odd fashion choices and much larger than Ms. Berry; but then again, what woman doesn’t gain weight in her later years? Others in the industry have suggested Jennifer Hudson, who’s career seems to be gaining speed after her (ahem) weight loss via Weight Watchers. Still, others think that someone with the stellar career of Ms. Franklin deserves a star of Ms. Berry’s Oscar-winning magnitude.

Audiences are eagerly awaiting a Queen of Soul biopic, and let’s just hope they don’t mess it up since films centering on Black women are so few and far between.

The news of Ms. Franklin’s film is perfect timing for other career centered news, specifically, that Columbia is records is releasing a twelve (yes, twelve!) CD set starting with songs from the start of her career in 1960 to later releases.

The 50th anniversary of Aretha Franklin‘s arrival on the popular music scene is set for a major celebration in 2011. Signed to Columbia Records by the legendary John Hammond in the spring of 1960 (soon after her 18th birthday), Aretha released her debut album, Aretha (With The Ray Bryant Combo), on February 27, 1961.  Her coming of age at Columbia as a young artist in New York is one of the great stories in the annals of popular music, and set the stage for her ascendance as the Queen of Soul at Atlantic Records.

TAKE A LOOK: ARETHA FRANKLIN COMPLETE ON COLUMBIA marks the first time that Aretha’s entire Columbia output, including master takes, unissued performances, rare mono mixes and studio conversations, have been preserved in one deluxe 12-disc (11 CDs + DVD) box set.  The package is available for pre-order at www.arethafranklin.net in advance of its March 22, 2011, release at all physical and digital retail outlets through Columbia/Legacy, a division of SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT.  The suggested retail price for the box is $169.98.

Songs include:

  • Aretha (with the Ray Bryant Combo) (released February 27, 1961)
  • The Electrifying Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin (1962)
  • Laughing On The Outside (1963)
  • Unforgettable – A Tribute To Dinah Washington (1964)
  • Runnin’ Out Of Fools (1965)
  • Yeah!!! In Person With Her Quartet (in two sequences: the original 1965 album recorded live in the studio with overdubbed applause, followed by a new previously unreleased version without the overdubbed ambience)
  • Tiny Sparrow: The Bobby Scott Sessions (1963)
  • Take A Look: The Clyde Otis Sessions (1964)
  • A Bit of Soul (the full album as it was compiled in 1965, but never released)
  • The Queen In Waiting (includes Aretha’s last seven Columbia recordings which were produced by Bob Johnston, who was noted for his work during this time with Bob Dylan; the disk also features new recordings of Aretha’s songs that Columbia “sweetened” after she left the label)
  • …and more!

Find out more at Aretha Franklin.net

Who Would You Cast? THE UNTITLED BATMAN MOVIE

THE UNTITLED BATMAN MOVIE

Release Date: 20 July 2012
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman

Who can forget the slinky Eartha Kitt in the campy television series “Batman”? She personified the role of arch super-villain Catwoman. Other actresses dimmed in comparison with her, but that didn’t stop Hollywood from casting Lee Meriwether, Julie Newmar (who got close, but not quite), and Michelle Pfeiffer. Arguably, Halle Berry portrayed the Catwoman in the film of the same name, but the movie was nothing compared to the actual comic book character.

The new Batman movie is slated for release in 2012, but there’s been no mention of the Catwoman character. Maybe if the creators thought hard enough, they would surprise us by casting one of these sultry sisters in homage to the late, great, Eartha Kitt… purrrrr…

TMZ Reports: Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry Split

Celebrity gossip blog TMZ reported that actress and producer Halle Berry is splitting from her longtime companion and “baby-daddy” Gabriel Aubry. The deliciously glamorous couple seemed to be doing well for a while, until Ms. Berry reportedly consulted with a divorce lawyer three weeks ago. WAIT! Did they report a “divorce lawyer”? Well the plot thickens on

whether or not they are married, especially after Halle swore off marriage after her disastrous nuptials with admitted “sex-addict” Eric Benet. Aside from her separation with Gabriel,

they are reported to have amicable shared parenting duties with the beautiful Nahla, now 2-years old.

Read more at TMZ.com

OBITUARY: Celebrity Make-up Artist & Former Actress Roxanne Floyd Dies

Celebrity make-up artist Roxanne Floyd

Amber Magazine reported that make-up artist to the stars, Roxanne Floyd, passed away from unknown causes on January 28, 2010.

Ms. Floyd was well known for her amazing make-up work on African American actresses, singers and models, and helped to usher in the eyebrow-trend, especially among women-of-color.

Unlike most make-up artists, Ms. Floyd did not find (and mix) colors to create complimentary shades for the complex hues and shades of Black women. Hollywood often had only one color for Black women, and that was Max Factor’s “Light Egyptian,” which was actually created to “darken” white actors. (Lena Horne took a screen test for the 1951 film “Showboat,” but was overlooked for her then-friend Ava Gardner, who the studio’s “blackened up” with the Max Factor color.) The cosmetics industry didn’t truly change until the 1970’s when quality cosmetics for women-of-color were created by the late-Naomi Sims.

Ms. Floyd is probably best known for the lush-hued pout and striking eyes that singer Lauryn Hill sported for her multiple Grammy Award-winning album, The Mis-Education of Lauryn Hill.

Roxanne Floyd also created the signature look for Essence magazine covers and layouts including ones featuring Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Angela Bassett and others.

The cause of Ms. Floyd’s death is unknown. Ms. Floyd is survived by her husband Rick Ramos, and her mother Alberta “Bertha” Floyd.

Read more at Amber Magazine

Nicole Richie’s first photos of baby Sparrow Madden

People Magazine gives the public a glimpse of the newest addition to the Richie-Madden clan, baby Sparrow James Midnight Madden. The second baby born to partners Nicole Richie and musician Joel Madden, little sparrow is a cutester …though he has a lot of competition between other tot cuties, namely, big sister Harlow, and the schmoofy Nahla Aubrey –born to

Halle Berry and beau Gabe Aubrey. In theory, every baby is adorable, and, yes, little Sparrow makes the cut. He’s a sweetie-pie…and I think a paternity test for actor Kevin Spacey is in order.

Who’s the biggest snuggle bear?

“Perfect Stranger” makes HufPo’s Top 9 List

“Perfect Stranger,” starring Halle Berry, made The Huffington Post’s Top 9 list… but not like you think. The 2007 thriller co-starring a creepy Bruce Willis made the Top 9 Stupidest Surprise endings! It’s not as mean as you think because the list give a hilarious send up of some blockbusters that spent millions on viral marketing gimics. Some worked, and some of us got duped into seeing it; but that’ll teach you that you everything that shines isn’t gold…

Check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/21/the-9-stupidest-surprise_n_328300.html?slidenumber=4#slide_image

Alicia Keys’ Black Ball brings out the stars

Singer, activist, and actress brought out the stars to shine for a worthy cause. She hosted the 6th Annual Black Ball to benefit the AIDS organization Keep a Child Alive. No star was left unseen. Check out the gorgeous pics, especially of the ravishing Halle Berry –replete with her signature pixie cut! (Thank you, Halle, for returning to the cut that set you apart from everyone else!)

Halle Berry skrounches pregnancy rumors

Can we just let Halle Berry be Halle Berry without putting all of our issues, hopes and dreams on her shoulders? Ms. Berry squashed rumors that she’s pregnant again on the Jay Leno Show on Thursday night.

Granted her baby Nahla Aubrey is the bomb and is quite the schmoofy, but her mommy is not pregnant. TMZ.com first reported the baby rumors in late-August 2009, and the rumors have only swelled.

Only time will tell, but whatever decisions she makes for her and her family’s happiness is her business. If she were to welcome another one, that would just be one more cutie-pie baby in the world…!

Dark Tide set to film in South Africa

According to Variety.com, Hollywood’s Bomb-girl Halle Berry has signed on to star in the thriller “Dark Tide,” which starts filming later this year in South Africa. The film is about a diving instructor who returns to the murky sea after being attached by a Great White shark. Social Capital Films is financing between $15-$20 million for the film.