Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Joins Hollywood Reporter as Contributing Editor on Pop Culture, Race and Politics

NBA legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (photo via Getty Images)

article via hollywoodreporter.com

The Hollywood Reporter, one of entertainment media’s flagship outlets, announced that NBA legend, actor, activist, cultural commentator and New York Times bestselling author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has joined the publication as contributing editor. In his role, Abdul-Jabbar will pen a regular column and conduct select celebrity interviews.  Abdul-Jabbar’s first column on race and romance in La La Land will run in the Feb. 24 print issue and online at THR.com.

“With decades of experience in the media spotlight and a keen eye on the pop culture landscape, Kareem will bring a unique perspective to The Hollywood Reporter’s readers on critical issues like race, gender and the role of media in society,” said Matthew Belloni, editorial director of The Hollywood Reporter. “His voice will be an especially important one as The Hollywood Reporter continues to expand its coverage and grow its global audience.”

On his new role, Abdul-Jabbar said, “I’m excited to join The Hollywood Reporter because it allows me to continue to write about the intersection of politics and pop culture, which is where our values and beliefs are forged.”

Abdul-Jabbar has contributed a number of guest columns to The Hollywood Reporter in recent months. In November, he conducted a wide-ranging interview with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who appeared together in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s classic 1983 play, Fences. Abdul-Jabbar also recently penned columns focusing on the issues of the day, calling on black celebrities to be “fearless” in standing up to the current president, intoning on the social and psychological effects of reality-romance series The Bachelor and comparing Trump’s refugee ban to a “bad horror movie.”

In addition to The Hollywood Reporter, Abdul-Jabbar has contributed to publications like The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, Esquire and The Huffington Post.

To read full article, go to: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Joins Hollywood Reporter as Contributing Editor | Hollywood Reporter

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: The Best New Films to Watch this February

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Movies to see this Black History Month (photo collage via theguardian.com)

article by Rebecca Carroll via theguardian.com

Fences

If you’ve ever seen or read an August Wilson play, you know that writing is how the late playwright processed the world around him – a magnificently black world filled with funk and nuance in which language plays a central role. For Wilson, though, learning how to work with that language as a writer didn’t happen overnight. “For the longest time I couldn’t make my characters talk,” Wilson told me several years ago before his death in 2005. “I thought in order to incorporate the black vernacular into literature, the language had to be changed or altered in some way to sound more clear … until I realized that it’s no less romantic and meaningful to say, ‘It’s cold outside.’” As a play, Wilson’s Fences, which tells the story of a working-class black man – who was denied a baseball career in the major leagues – trying to raise his family in mid-century Pittsburgh, gives us that blunt romance and powerful meaning. As a movie, it gives us Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Enough said.

Fences is on nationwide release now

Get Out

I don’t go in for horror films at all – not even horror film parodies – but I also can’t think of a brighter, more innovative voice in film right now than Jordan Peele, one half of the masterful sketch comedy series Key and Peele, which he co-created with Keegan-Michael Key. And while the potentially great Keanu, co-written by Peele and Alex Rubin, was a disappointing failure, Get Out, which Peele both wrote and directed, looks legitimately genius. The premise is a pretty straightforward Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner setup – rich white girlfriend brings her smart, learned black boyfriend upstate for a weekend to meet the parents – what could go wrong? It’ll be awkward, parents will remark more than once on how articulate the black boyfriend is, lecture them both on how hard it will be to maintain an interracial relationship in this day and age, and then finally concede that love is all that matters. Or will it?

Get Out will be in theaters February 24

Hidden Figures

In America, when it comes to the mainstream celebration of black historical figures, we primarily see the spotlight shined on our athletes, entertainers and a handful of activists who generally get depoliticized posthumously. Seldom do we hear about engineers, innovators and mathematicians, much less our black women in those positions. It’s thrilling and really quite long overdue for a film like Hidden Figures, which tells the story of “colored computers” Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, who worked at NASA in the early 1960s and played a vital role in getting John Glenn and the Friendship 7 into space. As Katherine Johnson, Taraji P. Henson is on career-best form – pushing her glasses up on her nose, hustling to the coloreds bathroom carrying a stack of data research, doing mathematical equations on a chalkboard – creating a truly revelatory performance. Octavia Spencer as Dorothy and Janelle Monáe as Mary are icing on the cake. An added bonus comes in the form of Pharrell Williams, who is a producer on the film and wrote original songs for the soundtrack that give the movie a beautiful sense of joy.

Hidden Figures is in nationwide release now

I Am Not Your Negro

The thing about James Baldwin, beyond his utter brilliance and undeniable prescience as a writer and public intellectual, is that he was like the blackest man who ever lived. And he wore it like a badge of honor. In the newly Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, Haitian-born film-maker Raoul Peck mines Baldwin’s unpublished writing about the assassinations of Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to create an intellectual and visual mosaic that somehow captures Baldwin’s own very personal and stubborn sense of blackness. It hits hard, and the film will make you long for the leadership and integrity of Evers, King and Malcolm in these increasingly divisive times. But it will also, if only temporarily, let you sit in the glory that is James Baldwin’s company.

I Am Not Your Negro is out on Friday

To read full article, go to: The best new releases to watch during Black History Month | Film | The Guardian

“Hidden Figures,” Viola Davis, Mahershala Ali, Denzel Washington Win Screen Actors Guild Awards

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“Hidden Figures” Wins Best Cast Ensemble for Film at 2017 SAG Awards (photo via kansascitystar.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

The 2017 SAG Awards took place on Sunday night at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, and among the winners were favorites Viola Davis for Best Supporting Female Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and Mahershala Ali for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (“Moonlight”), as well as surprise victors Denzel Washington for Lead Actor in a Motion Picture (“Fences”) and “Hidden Figures” for Best Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture.

“Hidden Figures”  also added $14 million to its box office numbers this weekend to cross the $100 million mark and bring its current total gross to $104 million.

Other notable wins were “Orange Is the New Black” for Best Cast in a Comedy Series and “Stranger Things” for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series.

The complete list of winners is below:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Denzel Washington, “Fences” (WINNER)
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”

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‘Moonlight,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Hidden Figures’ and Actors of Color Make Oscar History

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of 'Moonlight,' winner of Best Motion Picture - Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 08: (L-R) Actors Trevante Rhodes and Naomie Harris, director Barry Jenkins, actors Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae and Mahershala Ali of ‘Moonlight,’ winner of Best Motion Picture – Drama, pose in the press room during the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

article by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

Reversing course from last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Moonlight,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and other people of color-centered works with Oscar nominations today (January 24).

The three films, each of which features a predominantly Black cast, compete in the “Best Picture” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” categories. Actresses Viola Davis (“Fences”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”) also square off for best “Actress in a Supporting Role.”

“Moonlight”‘s eight nominations are the most of any film this year besides the musical “La La Land.” They include “Best Director” and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” for Barry Jenkins, and “Actor in a Supporting Role” for Mahershala Ali.

“Fences” star and director Denzel Washington received a best “Actor in a Leading Role” nomination. Playwright August Wilson‘s script, based on his original 1983 play, earned him a posthumous “Writing (Adapted Screenplay)” nod.

Other acting nominees of color include Ruth Negga (“Loving”) for “Actress in a Leading Role” and Dev Patel (“Lion”) for “Actor in a Supporting Role.” Patel is the first performer of South Asian descent to receive an acting Oscar nomination since Ben Kingsley for 2000’s “Sexy Beast.”

Ava DuVernay‘s “13th,” Raoul Peck‘s “I Am Not Your Negro” and Ezra Edelman‘s “O.J.: Made in America” each received Documentary (Feature) nominations. The category also includes another Black director’s work: Roger Ross Williams“Life, Animated,” and Joi McMillon became the first black female to be nominated in the Editing category for “Moonlight.”

This year’s nominations are far more diverse overall than last year’s, and NBC News reports that this year’s acting nominee pool is the most diverse in Oscar history.

To read more, go to: http://www.colorlines.com/articles/moonlight-fences-and-actors-color-make-oscar-history

“Moonlight”, “People Vs. OJ Simpson”, “Atlanta”, Ruth Negga, Octavia Spencer, Pharrell, Issa Rae and Many More Receive 2017 Golden Globe Nominations

(photo via madamenoire.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees (l-r) Issa Rae, Naomie Harris, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis (photo via madamenoire.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson

It seems as if last year’s #OscarsSoWhite backlash has had a marked effect on this year’s pool of projects and talent considered and honored as the 2017 awards season gets underway.

The 2017 Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and nominees of color were found in the majority of film and television categories.  Indie film sensation “Moonlight” not only garnered a nod for Best Motion Picture, Drama, but also for directing and screenwriting by Barry Jenkins, in the Best Actress category for Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali was recognized in the supporting actor category.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were honored for their performances in “Fences”Ruth Negga was nominated for her leading role in “Loving,” and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer grabbed a nomination for her supporting role in the upcoming space race drama “Hidden Figures.”  Additionally, Pharrell Williams is in the running for Best Original Score — Motion Picture, for his work on the music for “Hidden Figures.”

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

2017 Golden Globe nominees Donald Glover, Pharrell and Riz (photo via billboard.com)

On the television side, Donald Glover‘s “Atlanta” received nods in two categories; Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.  Anthony Anderson provides some competition for Glover in the acting category, and “Black-ish” is nominated for Best Comedy Television Series as well.  Tracee Ellis Ross gained a nod in the Lead Comedy Actress category, as did “Insecure” star Issa Rae.

In limited series, actress Thandie Newton was nominated for Westworld, and Kerry Washington‘s portrayal of Anita Hill in “Confirmation” was also acknowledged.  Emmy winner Courtney B. Vance gained a nod for his work as Johnny Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”  and the series was nominated in the Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category alongside Academy Award-winning writer John Ridley’s “American Crime.”

Below is a list of all the nominees:
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Actor/Director Denzel Washington to be Honored by Santa Barbara Film Festival

Denzel Washington Fences

Denzel Washington (UNIMEDIA IMAGES/REX SHUTTERSTOCK)

article by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Denzel Washington has been selected to receive the Maltin Modern Master Award at the 32nd annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Feb. 2, 2017 at the Arlington Theatre.

Washington will be honored for his longstanding contributions to the film industry, culminating with Paramount’s upcoming movie “Fences,” which he directs, produces, and stars in.

The award is named for film critic Leonard Maltin, who will return for his 26th year to moderate the evening.  Roger Durling, the festival’s executive director, said, “Denzel Washington directing, producing and acting in ‘Fences’ defines the Modern Master for the 21st Century.”

Washington portrays a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.

The screenplay is written August Wilson, adapted from Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The film also stars Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney. Paramount opens “Fences” on Dec. 25.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/festivals/denzel-washington-santa-barbara-film-festival-1201928237/

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Named People Magazine’s 2016 “Sexiest Man Alive”

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson named People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" (photo via twitter.com)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson named People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” (photo via twitter.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to usatoday.com, actor/producer and former professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has just been chosen by People Magazine to be this year’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”

Not since Denzel Washington was chosen in 1996 has a man of African-American descent earned the title.

“I thought, ‘Wow, we’ve pretty much reached the pinnacle,’” Johnson said, reacting to his new moniker. “I’m not quite too sure where we go from here. I’ve done it all, this is it.”

So what does he think makes him so sexy?

“Ah, a sense of humor,” he said in the story. “And I think probably just not trying to be sexy and just being cool and confident in your movies. I think with a lot of my fans, I’ve gotten to a very, very cool place where there’s a direct line between the man they know off-screen and the man they see onscreen.”

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