Tag: Richard Pryor

FEATURE: ‘Girls Trip’ Star Tiffany Haddish’s Remarkable Rise

Comedian and actor Tiffany Haddish (photo via theatlantic.com)

by Michael P. Jeffries via theatlantic.com

When comedian Tiffany Haddish was 9, her stepfather tampered with the brakes on her mother’s car, hoping to kill his partner and her four children. Rather than going out with her mom that day, Haddish asked to stay home and look after her younger siblings—sparing her from the horrific accident that left her mother mentally impaired. As the oldest child, Haddish did what she could to help for three years, from tying her mother’s shoes to paying bills, but eventually Haddish and her siblings were placed in foster care.

Haddish used the trauma and tragedy of her upbringing to ignite what is now a blazing comedy career. As a child, the Girls Trip star was teased for being a foster kid, but Haddish has also talked about maintaining a strong sense of self worth in her recent Showtime standup special, She Ready!: From the Hood to Hollywood. “The state of California paid so much money to make sure I don’t die ‘cause they knew I was gonna be special,” Haddish tells her audience. “They knew it. They was like, ‘This one right here, she gonna be a unicorn.’ And they was right. I’m the last black unicorn, bitch!”

Haddish’s ascent in recent years—debuting on NBC’s The Carmichael Show in 2015 and appearing in the 2016 action comedy Keanu and the summer hit Girls Trip—is a testament to her talent and resilience. But her story also offers insight into what it takes for a black woman in comedy to become successful today. Haddish’s rise points to where systemic roadblocks still lie for performers of color, particularly women, when they first enter the business—and how some barriers to entry may be falling as comedy enters a new golden age, with fewer gatekeepers and more platforms for artists to reach their fans.

Even though Girls Trip has a black director and writers, Haddish faced questions about her low profile. Her agent initially told her that studio executives were looking for someone with a bigger name to play her character, Dina. Haddish told her agent to tell them, “I’ve had a name since 1979. Okay? I was born with a name.” In the end, her rare comedic gifts won out, and reviews of Girls Trip regularly singled Haddish out for praise. Continue reading “FEATURE: ‘Girls Trip’ Star Tiffany Haddish’s Remarkable Rise”

Author Paul Beatty Becomes 1st American to Win Man Booker Prize With ‘The Sellout’

Paul Beatty, who won the Man Booker Prize for “The Sellout,” a satire about race in America, at a ceremony Tuesday in London. (Credit: John Phillips/Getty Images)

article by Alexandra Alter via nytimes.com

Paul Beatty’s novel “The Sellout,” a blistering satire about race in America, won the Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, marking the first time an American writer has won the award.

The five Booker judges, who were unanimous in their decision, cited the novel’s inventive comic approach to the thorny issues of racial identity and injustice.

With its outrageous premise and unabashed skewering of racial stereotypes, “The Sellout” is an audacious choice for the judges, who oversee one of the most prestigious awards in literature.

“The truth is rarely pretty, and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon,” Amanda Foreman, the head of the judging panel, said at a press briefing in London before the winner was announced. “It plunges into the heart of contemporary American society.”

At a ceremony in London, Mr. Beatty said that writing “The Sellout” had taken an emotional toll.

“It was a hard book for me to write; I know it’s hard to read,” he said. “I’m just trying to create space for myself. And hopefully that can create space for others.”

A raucous tragicomedy that explores the legacy of slavery and racial and economic inequality in America, the novel felt deeply resonant at a moment when police violence against African-Americans has incited protests around the country and forced Americans to confront the country’s history of racism.

In a review in The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that the novel’s first 100 pages read like “the most concussive monologues and interviews of Chris Rock, Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle wrapped in a satirical yet surprisingly delicate literary and historical sensibility.”

To read full article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/26/business/media/paul-beatty-wins-man-booker-prize-with-the-sellout.html?_r=0

Eddie Murphy Honored with Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize

Eddie Murphy Emmy Awards
Eddie Murphy (photo via GETTY IMAGES)

Thirty-five years ago an unknown teenager from Brooklyn made an uncredited cameo in a lackluster episode of a network variety show on the verge of collapse. By the next episode that kid got his first real shot on screen and he never looked back. Soon enough, the only thing keeping “Saturday Night Live” from dying in the post-Lorne Michaels era was legendary-comedian-in-the-making Eddie Murphy.

Within two years Murphy was performing standup on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, and turning in iconic parodic performances on “SNL” as Buckwheat, Gumby and Mr. Robinson in sketches that would be forever emblazoned in the annals of American pop culture. By 1984, Murphy was a hugely bankable movie star, making his mark in comic masterpieces like “48 Hours,” “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” which catapulted Murphy to international fame and spawned two sequels.

On Oct. 18, the man with one of the most infectious laughs in comedy will receive the 18th annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  Kathy Griffin, who will present clips of Murphy’s 1982 “Tonight Show” debut at the Kennedy Center gala event, says Murphy’s brilliance stems from his gutsy approach to standup comedy.

“In an era when everyone is apologizing for everything, it is fun and liberating to go back and watch him express anything that he thinks is funny without filters,” she says. “He is not a safe comedian and isn’t that what standup comedy is really about?”

Of course, Murphy is also one of the most commercially successful African-American actors in film history. His movies have averaged $100 million at the box office, including such hits as “Coming to America,” “Shrek” and “The Nutty Professor.” Although he’s been absent from the big screen for several years, Imagine Entertainment is reportedly developing a Netflix comedy feature with Murphy.

“Eddie is an icon and a terrific actor who has been making us laugh for 35 years,” says Cappy McGarr, executive producer of the Mark Twain Prize.  He adds that Murphy’s early films were brilliant not only because they were funny, but also because they tackled themes of racism in America. “Trading Places,” released in 1983, explored the divide between the haves and have-nots.

“That movie is just as relevant now as when it was made,” McGarr says. “Like Richard Pryor, who received the first Mark Twain Prize, Eddie has been an incredible influence on all those who followed him.”

Comedians Murphy influenced and inspired include Arsenio Hall, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, who’s called Murphy his “idol.” He will be among the presenters at the Kennedy Center ceremony, along with fellow “SNL” alumni Will Ferrell, who received the Mark Twain Prize in 2011, and Tina Fey, who was honored with the award in 2010.

Griffin says the Mark Twain Prize is the ultimate award for comedians, especially since they are typically overlooked at the Oscars. (Murphy’s one nomination is for his dramatic turn in Bill Condon’s 2006 musical “Dreamgirls.”)

“This is a huge honor for Eddie,” Griffin says. “Everyone in comedy wants this. The ones that have it all brag about it and the ones that don’t are pissed. This is it.”

Per McGarr, the Mark Twain Award may not be enough validation for a genius such as Murphy: “I just wish we could give him more than one medal.”

article by Stuart Miller via Variety.com

Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx to Be Inducted into Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame

Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx
2015 Apollo Theater Walk of Fame inductees Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx

The Apollo Theater in Harlem will induct famed comedians Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx into its Walk of Fame.

The ceremony, to take place on Oct. 1, will mark the first time that non-musical artists will be inducted. All three had long-standing relationships with the venue.  The historic theater also is launching a new comedy series on the same night. The Apollo Comedy Club will feature emerging comics.

Its fall and winter season also includes the return of the international hip-hop dance festival Breakin’ Convention that will feature French dance duo Les Twins.

Read more at http://www.eurweb.com/2015/09/richard-pryor-moms-mabley-redd-foxx-headed-to-apollos-walk-of-fame/#ZpJgecujOC5oZrfe.99

Richard Pryor Statue Unveiled in His Hometown of Peoria, Illinois

Richard Pryor statue unveiled in Peoria, IL. (Photo: Instagram)
Richard Pryor statue in Peoria, IL. (Photo: Instagram)

According to comedyhype.com, legendary comedian and actor Richard Pryor finally had his statue placed and presented in his hometown of Peoria, Illinois. Yesterday, with his son Richard Pryor Jr. and many fans in attendance, the 7-foot 1/2 statue of Pryor holding a microphone was unveiled. In September of 2014, the now members of the Black And Brown Comedy Get Down tour helped raised the final funds to complete the new statue.  To see video of the unveiling, click here.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

HEALTH: 6 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor About Multiple Sclerosis

stock-footage-black-woman-talking-to-sincere-african-american-doctor-at-office-deskWhen you’ve been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, all sorts of questions and concerns start racing through your mind:

“Am I going to be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of my life?”

“Will I no longer be able to do the activities I love?”

These are very legitimate concerns and you may even feel as if you’re losing control over your life, which is understandable, but one of the best ways to regain control is by gathering your thoughts so that you can ask your doctor all the right questions.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease to the damage of the covers of nerve cells which disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in physical, mental and sometimes psychiatric problems. It is the sisease that forced comedy legend, Richard Pryor, into a wheelchair in the last days of his life

With the help of Dr. Bola Oyeyipo, a family physician in San Antonio, Texas, we’re answering some of your most common questions regarding MS so that you can live your best life.

1. “What kind of MS do I have?” There are four types of MS: Relapsing-remitting MS, Primary-progressive MS, Secondary-progressive MS, and Progressive-relapsing MS. Knowing which form you have is essential in fighting the disease because you will know what to expect in terms of how it effects your body.

“The conventional treatment for MS is often not pleasant – injections of immune-suppressing agents so it’s important to know the type of MS you have so your treatment can be tailored accordingly,” Dr. Oyeyipo says.

2. “How far along is my MS?” MS can be difficult to diagnose due to the fact that it cannot be detected by one single test and the symptoms tend to vary from person to person. As a result, many individuals have MS for quite some time before being diagnosed. By then, the disease will have progressed.

“The current way of diagnosing MS is finding evidence of damage in at least two separate areas of the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves,” Dr. Oyeyipo says. “This usually start months to years before the physical symptoms show up.”

She adds, “Knowing the extent of demyelination of the brain and spinal cord helps to guide what treatment options to take. The more extensive the disease is, [the patient will require] a more aggressive approach, [such as treatment] with immunoglobulins and steroids to preserve physical function and to achieve remission.”

MUST READ: Do You Know The Different Types Of Multiple Sclerosis? 

Continue reading “HEALTH: 6 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor About Multiple Sclerosis”

Eddie Murphy Joins Cast of Richard Pryor Biopic Directed by Lee Daniels

Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop
(PHOTO: GABRIEL OLSEN/FILMMAGIC)

Eddie Murphy is in talks to join the cast of Lee Daniels’ untitled Richard Pryor biopic, sources confirm.  He will play the late comedian’s father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor, a boxer and WWII veteran, in the Weinstein Co. drama.

Mike Epps is attached to star as the legendary comedian.

Daniels teased the Murphy casting Thursday night on Instagram with a photo of himself and the actor.

Murphy, who recently appeared in the “SNL” 40th Anniversary special, grew up idolizing and impersonating Pryor as a comedian in the ’70s.

“Richard’s the one that made me want to do comedy,” he previously said. “When I was little I used to sneak into my basement and put his albums on.”

Daniels is riding the success of his hit TV drama “Empire,” which Fox just renewed for a second season. He also directed “The Butler” for the Weinstein Co.

Murphy can be seen next in the culinary drama “Cook.”

article via Variety.com

R.I.P. Leo Branton Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer Who Defended Angela Davis

April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose. For obit of Branton.
April 6, 1972: Defense attorney Leo Branton listens to Angela Davis as the two walk from court at San Jose.

Leo Branton Jr., a civil rights and entertainment lawyer whose stirring defense of ’60s radical Angela Davis brought him his most celebrated victory in a six-decade career often spent championing unpopular cases, died of natural causes Friday in Los Angeles. He was 91.  His death was confirmed by his son Tony Nicholas.

Branton, the only African-American graduate of Northwestern University’s law school in 1948, helped singer Nat King Cole integrate an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood, defended Communists in McCarthy-era Los Angeles and won misconduct cases against the Los Angeles Police Department decades before Rodney King became a household name.

“He was a hero of mine,” said Connie Rice, a prominent Los Angeles civil rights attorney who helped lead efforts to reform the LAPD after the King beating.  “All the things I’ve done, Leo Branton did 50 years before I even thought about going to law school. He saw himself not as a private practitioner out to make money for himself but as a lawyer with the skills to be a champion for black liberation.”

Continue reading “R.I.P. Leo Branton Jr., Civil Rights Lawyer Who Defended Angela Davis”

Forest Whitaker To Direct Long-Stalled Richard Pryor Biopic

Forest Whitaker takes his daughters shopping at Urban Outfitters in Studio City, California on March 17, 2013

The long-gestating Richard Pryor biopic is starting over from scratch with Forest Whitaker now in charge.

Fresh from producing the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner “Fruitvale,” Whitaker has taken over the nearly two-decade effort to bring the legendary comic’s life of the big screen, reports Deadline.com.

Whitaker is teaming with the late comic’s widow, Jennifer Pryor, to produce the film through his Significant Productions shingle. Whitaker will develop a new script with input from Jennifer Pryor, and Significant Productions’ Nina Yang-Bongiovi, will also produce.

The Pryor biopic has been attempted numerous times, and the most recent version had Bill Condon poised to direct Marlon Wayans in the starring role for Sony Pictures, where Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison had set the project. Condon was certainly passionate about Pryor, but everything took a back seat when he signed on to helm the final two “Twilight Saga” installments. The project languished.

The first Pryor project was a Martin Scorsese-directed drama to star Damon Wayans, this well before Pryor died in 2005. Later, there was a Showtime pic that was to star Eddie Griffin and another attempt at a feature that was to star Mike Epps with Kasi Lemmons directing.

Condon’s first flirtation had Eddie Murphy briefly interested, and then Chris Rock was briefly in the conversation.

The question now is, who will be Whitaker’s Richard Pryor?  Deadline.com’s Mike Fleming Jr. thinks he should look no further than his “Fruitvale” star, Michael B. Jordan, “who by all accounts crushed it in that film.”

Fleming writes: “Jordan, who grew up playing roles in ‘The Wire’ and ‘Friday Night Lights’ before starring in ‘Chronicle,’ certainly has the charisma and should be established enough as the lead on a modestly budgeted film after The Weinstein Company releases ‘Fruitvale’ later this year.”

article via eurweb.com