Morgan Freeman Wins Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award

Morgan Freeman (photo via variety.com REX/SHUTTERSTOCK)

by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Morgan Freeman has been named the 54th recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. Freeman will be presented the accolade at the 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The award is given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession.”

Freeman has won a Screen Actors Guild Award, an Academy Award, HFPA’s Cecil B. DeMille Award, an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, seven Image Awards, a Silver Berlin Bear and a Kennedy Center Honor. SAG-AFTRA made the announcement Tuesday. “I am thrilled to announce Morgan Freeman as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “Some actors spend their entire careers waiting for the perfect role. Morgan showed us that true perfection is what a performer brings to the part. He is innovative, fearless and completely unbound by expectations… It has been a privilege to see his genius at work.”

Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor for “Million Dollar Baby.” He was nominated for Oscars for “Street Smart” (1987), “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994) and “Invictus” (2009). He also won a SAG Award for “Million Dollar Baby.”

He has nearly 100 feature film credits including “The Dark Knight,” “The Bucket List,” “Glory,” “Lean on Me,” “Se7en,” “Amistad,” “Bruce Almighty,” and “Along Came a Spider.” Recent credits include “Going In Style,” “Ben-Hur,” “Now You See Me 2” and “London Has Fallen.” Freeman’s upcoming films include “Villa Capri” and Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”

To read full article, go to: Morgan Freeman Wins SAG Life Achievement Award | Variety

“Hidden Figures” Inspires State Department Education Exchange Program for Women in STEM

(image via youtube.com)

by Hazel Cills via jezebel.com

After Fox 2000‘s space race drama “Hidden Figures” was released last year, an unprecedented amount of United States embassies were reportedly calling the State Department requesting the film. Eventually the movie was screened to nearly 80 locations overseas and because of all those screenings, a new, publicly funded exchange program will bring women from around the world working in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to the United States.

The program, called #HiddenNoMore, will bring 50 women from 50 different countries who are working in STEM fields to the United States. The chosen participants will travel to Washington in October before traveling across the country for three weeks meeting with universities, Girl Scouts, and other organizations.

Then they’ll all come together in Los Angeles for a two-day event on the 21st Century Fox lot. Across STEM industries, women, particularly women of color, are vastly underrepresented. “Hidden Figures” already shed light on the important history of black women in mathematics, but with programs like #HiddenNoMore it’s cool that the movie can now help create its future.

To read full article, go to: Hidden Figures Has Inspired a State Department Education Exchange Program 

“Raised By Krump” Documentary by Director Maceo Frost Makes Worldwide Debut on Vimeo (VIDEO)

(courtesy vimeo.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Raised By Krumpa 22-minute documentary film that explores the Compton/South Central, Los Angeles-born dance movement “Krumping,” and the lives of some of the area’s most influential and prolific dancers, is making its exclusive, worldwide debut as a #staffpickpremiere on Vimeo today, May 24th.

Raised by Krump blends the art of movement, music, and personal interviews together to tell the story of finding solace within an underground movement and the community that it creates. The film, directed by award winning filmmaker Maceo Frost, focuses on how Krumping has helped young people deal with the emotional issues that come with growing up in one of L.A.’s toughest neighborhoods — a place where showing emotion is often considered a sign of weakness.

Perhaps most notably depicted in David LaChappelle’s documentary Rize, Krumping came to be via Tommy the Clown, who invented the dance movement “Clowning” in response to the happy façade he depicted when performing as a clown at childrens’ parties. Clowning, and eventually Krumping, allowed the dancers to express the everyday struggles of living in their neighborhoods.

Raised by Krump shows the next evolution after Rize. In the film, the dancers explain that they are who they are today because of the dance movement. Instead of joining a gang or turning to violence, they turned to movement, dance, and self-expression, and passed this ability on to their children and others’ children, creating a more creatively-stimulated younger generation. Krumping founders Tight-Eyez and Marquisa “Miss Prissy” Gardner – who were also featured in Rize – are in this film as well. They are older, wiser, and have experienced the full impact that Krumping has had on their lives.

As Miss Prissy says in the documentary, “I think Krump symbolizes every piece of what we went through growing up in our neighborhoods, from being chased by gangbangers to being harassed by the police for just being who we are and what we are. It was about us going through the shit that we just couldn’t control anymore, and I feel that’s what birthed Krump.”

Or as Tight Eyez plainly puts it, “We make the ugly part of our lives beautiful. We make it good.”

Frost’s film is also visually arresting, featuring a mesmerizing ebb and flow of movement, almost forming a visual poem about Krumping.

Go to Vimeo.com/staffpicks picks to watch the film, or watch above.

Shaquille O’Neal Honored by Los Angeles Lakers with Statue in Front of Staples Center in Los Angeles

Shaquille O’Neal and his Statute (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

article by Chelsea Edwards and Rob Fukuzaki via abc7.com

A 9-foot, 1,200-pound bronze statue of Laker great Shaquille O’Neal was unveiled in the front of Staples Center in  Friday. The statue, which is connected to Staples Center and suspended 10 feet off the ground, was brought to downtown Los Angeles on Thursday prior to the unveiling ceremony.

The ceremony at Star Plaza outside Staples Center included live music, a Ferris wheel, interactive games as well as speeches from O’Neal himself and his teammates, colleagues and friends. Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson, Jerry West, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the event.

“I just want to say thank you. I’ve learned so much from you as a player. Everything you’ve done for this city, everything you’ve done for this franchise,” Bryant said. “Kids, your kids, you guys should know your dad was a bad man. Congratulations and much love to you, my brother.”

A few of O’Neal’s six children also spoke during the ceremony and helped him unveil the massive statue hanging above the ground. O’Neal thanked Jerry West, his former teammates and, of course, the fans for believing in him throughout his career. “This moment is very unexpected because I see two Lakers ahead of me that definitely deserve this statue,” he said. “To the fans, you know I love you, and I just wanted you to know that I heard you in the games when I was missing free throws.”

At the end of his speech, he chanted, “Can you dig it?” to a cheerful crowd. O’Neal played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2004, leading the team to three consecutive NBA championships and winning the NBA finals MVP award each time.

Source: Shaquille O’Neal honored with statue in front of Staples Center | abc7.com

Stevie Wonder to be Honored by ASCAP with Inaugural “Key of Life” Award at “I Create Music” Expo in Los Angeles

Stevie Wonder (photo via hookedoneverything.com)

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, announced today that it will honor legendary musician Stevie Wonder with its inaugural “Key of Life” Award at this year’s ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO in Los Angeles, April 13 – 15, where Wonder will also appear in a keynote “I Create Music” session.

The “Key of Life” Award celebrates Wonder’s incomparable, peerless contributions to the world through his music. In the future, the honor will be presented to songwriters and composers who best exemplify his legacy through their commitment to the art form he elevated through his talent, dedication and unparalleled heart.

“Stevie has deservedly been given every award imaginable,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “Yet he continues to innovate and elevate the art of songwriting to the point where no honor can truly capture what he means to his creative kin at ASCAP, and to songwriters and music lovers worldwide. This award has been created as a way to honor his singularly inspirational songwriting career and to recognize his spirit in generations to come.”

The 25-time Grammy winner has been an ASCAP member for the better part of five decades, amassing more than 60 Billboard Hot 100 hits during his time with the performing rights organization, including eternal anthems like “Superstition,” “My Cherie Amour,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Wonder received ASCAP’s highest individual prize, the Founders Award, in 1984, and was honored during the organization’s 100th birthday celebrations with a once-in-a-lifetime Centennial Award.

Now in its 12th year, ASCAP’s “I Create Music” EXPO is the United States’ largest conference for songwriters, composers, artists and producers in all music genres. Last year’s conference was the most well attended in EXPO history, attracting 3,000 participants from up-and-comers to GRAMMY winners.

For more information on the ASCAP EXPO and to register for this year’s conference, visit: https://www.ascap.com/expo.

ART: Kerry James Marshall’s Masterful “Mastry” Exhibit Opens Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Works from Kerry James Marshall’s “Mastry” exhibition (collage by Maeve Richardson)

by Callie Teitelbaum

The “Mastry” Gallery, created by African-American artist Kerry James Marshall, walks you through Marshall’s journey of making it as a fine artist – a field dominated by whites for centuries.  Marshall was born in Alabama in 1955, and as a child was a part of the last wave of The Great Migration to the west, a region still full of promise and opportunity. Marshall’s family settled in South Central Los Angeles and while growing up in Watts, Marshall pursued art and was an active participant in the movement that encouraged an increase of black artists in the art community.  All of Marshall’s work contributed to his mission to prove that art by blacks was just as challenging and beautiful as the white art which was typically celebrated.

The exhibit shows Marshall’s earlier works such as “The Invisible Man,” which is a collection of small scale portraits of people using the darkest shades of black, emphasizing Marshall’s idea that black people in society blend into the background.  The exhibition displays how Marshall’s work developed, and include many of his large scale paintings.

Marshall changed the style of his work because he realized that a big statement called for a grander canvas.  A large three-piece work called “Heirlooms and Accessories,” appears to be a necklace with a woman’s face in it at first glance.  However, once one’s eyes adjust to the painting, fine lines start to become more distinct, and it is clear that there is a lynching occurring in the background.  The faces in the painting are witnesses at the lynching, and the expressions of indifference are utterly shocking. While “Heirlooms and Accessories” seem to be referring to the necklaces, accessories serves as a double meaning because it also refers to those who were accessories to murder.  This is a prime example of the depth and meaning behind each of Marshall’s work.

“Harriet Tubman” by Kerry James Marshall

All of the paintings reflect Marshall’s commentary on black identity in the U.S. and in traditional western art.  In his piece “Harriet Tubman,” Marshall paints an image of Harriet Tubman on her wedding day, with hands with white gloves essentially hanging this piece of art in a museum.  Marshall’s feeling that museums are responsible for the lack of black art is portrayed in this piece.  Museums typically hold the standard of what is beautiful and worthy, and Marshall makes the direct statement of what should be celebrated in this work.

The exhibition is especially engaging because of the varying emotions each work provokes.  While pieces such as “Slow Dance,” which illustrates two people peacefully dancing, provokes calmness and peace, other pieces express injustice and anger.  Marshall’s versatility and innate talent for art is clear as his work consists of completely different mediums and subjects.  The exhibition allows you to fully observe all of Marshall’s different forms of art and varying ideas, and is not limited to a specific time period or brand of art.

Marshall’s range of mediums and subjects include large to small scale, canvas paintings to comics, common people to historical figures, and glittery mediums to the blackest of paint.  This ability to effectively utilize different forms of art makes Marshall a unique artist, and a unique person who has learned to effectively communicate in a way people of all race, gender, and social class can understand.  Marshall’s works are visually stunning to say the least, and his success in spreading the meaning of his art and pursuing his career despite the circumstances of racial discrimination, is truly inspiring.

The Mastry exhibit opens on March 12 at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and runs through July 3.

Los Angeles City Council Approves $1.5 Million Settlement in Police Killing of Ezell Ford

Ezell Ford street memorial (photo via latimes.com)

article by Kate Mather and David Zahniser via latimes.com

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of Ezell Ford, whose 2014 killing by Los Angeles Police Department officers became a local touchstone in the national outcry over police shootings.The settlement comes two weeks after Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey announced she would not criminally charge the two officers who shot Ford during a scuffle in his South L.A. neighborhood.

The Aug. 11, 2014 shooting of Ford, a 25-year-old black man, generated controversy almost immediately. More than two years later, local activists and others use his death as an example in their ongoing criticism over how officers interact with black and Latino residents. Many — including those with the Black Lives Matter movement — still describe the shooting as an unjust killing, continuing to chant Ford’s name along with others killed by police.

Ford, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was walking near his South L.A. home when two officers assigned to an anti-gang unit tried to stop him. After Ford ignored officers’ commands, authorities said, Officer Sharlton Wampler tried to grab him. He later told investigators he thought the 25-year-old was trying to toss drugs. Authorities said Ford then knocked Wampler to the ground and tried to grab his gun during a scuffle, prompting both Wampler and his partner to shoot.

In a 28-page memo outlining their decision not to charge the officers, prosecutors said Ford’s DNA was found on Wampler’s holster, and bloodstains on the officer’s uniform and scuff marks on his utility belt suggested Ford was on top of him during the struggle. In 2015, the Police Commission concluded that Wampler violated LAPD policy when he fired at Ford. The board said it looked at the “totality of the circumstances” — not just the moment he fired — and faulted the officer’s decision to approach and physically contact Ford.

To read full article, go to: L.A. City Council approves $1.5-million settlement in police killing of Ezell Ford – LA Times