Monday, January 15, 2024

Do Black Actors Owe Each Other an Alliance?

Look at popular 70s flicks featuring Black actors. Diana Ross and Billy Dee Williams. Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. Even Pam Grier and the late Sig Haig (yes, he was Armenian but still a person of color) worked on numerous films together spanning two decades.

But that was then. Now, we have this little thing called social media that allows us to share (and sometimes, overshare) our feelings and thoughts. Now, when a public figure has a camera on them to record every word, body gesture, and surrounding events, it takes PR to another level. And it either backfires or creates a new discussion for social media fans.

Recently, the black gossip universe got an earful from veteran actor Taraji P. Henson about her treatment on The Color Purple (2023) set. According to her, everything from catering to pay to transportation was below par for the entire cast until Oprah Winfrey (or possibly, other powers-that-be) made it right. With an all-star cast, this sounds really absurd but from looking at the business aspect, it may not be so far-fetched.

It's About the Bottom Line

When Taraji's career catapulted from sitcom guest spots like Half and Half to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) in less than a decade, we were happy...for a minute. While she received an Academy nod for Best Supporting Actress, the disappointment came when it was revealed that her pay was barely a fraction of what lead actor Brad Pitt received.

At the time, the community mostly knew her as "Yvette" from Baby Boy and some forgettable supporting roles in a few urban flicks. However, the crossover certainly paid off, as Henson would later star in a few prime-time shows, including the Fox network's Empire. While this seems like it would translate into long-term notoriety for a Black actor, like everything else, we have to work harder in order to be considered equal to non-Black actors. And let's not forget gender bias.

We Can't Help Who We Know But...

While I don't think an actor's work should be judged by their personal life, this is also an industry where reputation is everything. It's also who we admit to knowing...and standing up for. Late last year, a message board topic titled "The Problem with Taraji" detailed all of the men she worked with. This list includes disgraced former manager Vincent Cirroncione (he also managed Halle Berry before he was convicted of sexual assault by former clients) and Jussie Smollett.

Now, we have fellow actors Vivica A. Fox and Academy Award (c) Mo'Nique chiming in about their experiences. While the latter appears to show full support for any POC actor who may be the underdog, Ms. Fox claimed it never applied to her. So what's her secret outside of those Lifetime movies? Possibly producer credits along with acting in the occasional urban flick and those car "insurance" commercials with Ice-T.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any recent Matt and Ben-type collaborations in the Black acting community. There was once a time when Ice Cube and Mike Epps starred in a few flicks outside of the Friday franchise. While not as memorable (but less buffoonish) esteemed actors Alfre Woodard and Sanaa Lathan have starred in several successful projects over the years.

My question is during a time when money is funnier than ever, should POC actors be obligated to share long-term success secrets? While Ms. Henson has a hair care line sold exclusively at most Target stores and has a net worth of $12 million, should she change more than her management team? An exit plan because she may have overshared how unfair the entertainment business can be? 

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Will "Cinnamon" Give Blaxploitation Lovers the Fix We Need?

During my last blog hibernation, I met a film buff and we're doing the damn thing. Problem is, he loves science fiction, thrillers, and anything violent. While I don't have a vast blaxploitation DVD collection, he was entertained by JD's Revenge and Willie Dynamite. Lightweight think pieces like Five on the Black Hand Side and Snowy Day in Oakland are like taking Nyquil in the afternoon for him.

So, in celebration of Dad's Day, we go to see The Blackening. While still getting over the reserved seating concept in addition to matinee prices being in the two digits, we find a relatively comfortable spot. wasn't bad...but not that great either.

It kinda reminded me of if in Living Color were updated and made it to the silver screen but toned down to say what we're thinking...and then some. Problem with this formula is that it can be mediocre but brilliant with the right comedic timing. Some may disagree with me but I'd suggest this list for your horror flick bingeing pleasure.

In Cinnamon, Pam Grier has again resurged in her role as that bad ass woman that gonna make everything alright. Looking awesome for her years, she, along with Hailey Kilgore (Jukebox from Raising Kanan) star is this Tubi original movie about a young woman trying to make her way in the world.

Damon Wayans also star's as the titular character's shady boss, along with a host of newcomers. Released June 23, I'm surprised this film hasn't received more attention with it's mix of drama, comedy, and action. My assumption is that many still think of Tubi as "that channel" for hood flicks with bad acting and almost storyline.

It looks like today is a new day...and at the moment, you're getting quality entertainment at no charge outside of an internet connection. As budgeting has become a greater concern than ever, I know I'll be checking back more often.

Well folks, I know it's been a couple of minutes and I'm still getting my mental engine lubed up. If you're blessed to see a new day, make it the best you can! LATER

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Happy 80th Birthday to Sly Stone

Before Thundercat, Rick James, and even Prince...Sly Stone was that musical genius to bridge black, white, and women and men into a single funk odyssey. His songs explored racial unity and other social matters of the day to an unforgettable beat. In fact, Sly set the template for modern recording acts like The Internet and many others.

For those of you who watch those Ed Sullivan reruns in hopes of catching this iconic performance, YouTube comes through. If you're familiar with the episode that featured The Doors, censorship (as in "high" or "higher" in reference to drugs) may be the reason why this segment is so hard to come by. 

This performance on the Mike Douglas Show is also worth a watch.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Things You May Not Have Realized About Good Times

For years, there's been an online debate about the cast and storylines of this iconic sitcom from the 70s. Where did Carl go (or better, what was his purpose)? What did that kitchen door lead to? Were Willona and James more than friends? Many of us probably will never know the truth behind the scenes or why creator Norman Lear made these interesting choices.

You're probably like me where in the past few years you've probably had time to binge in front of the set and ponder a few things. I did when I was on bed rest a few years ago. While it seems like a Good Times series remake is out of the question for now, we can have a little fun with these facts about the popular show.

  • The J.J. Evans character was loaded with charm and talent, making him a somewhat unlikely match for a bevy of beauties during its run from 1974 to 1979. Have you ever noticed that women who were overly affectionate are still working actors today? Yup, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Debbie Allen, Debbie Morgan, Tina Andrews, and the late Rosalind Cash had success in front of and/or behind the camera.

But what about the others? Let's see what they're up to.

Beverleigh Banfield who played the original T. C. (Bookman's assistant), is still active in the business. After taking guest starring roles in the 80s and 90s, her last acting credit was as a voiceover artist in the cartoon Static Shock. Since the 2010s, she's parlayed her talents as a producer and director. She's alive and well at 69 years young.

Rosanne Katon was in an early episode where her snob parents wanted their teen daughter to date someone who wasn't from the PJs. From the mid-70s through the 80s, Katon starred in a number of guest roles and was also known for being one of the first Black Playmates.  She quietly retired from acting by the early 90s to focus on family and humanitarian efforts.

Renee Brown didn't play a love interest but a painting student of J.J.'s who quietly forced him to eat a big piece of humble pie during a local art competition. After starring in a number of 70s sitcoms and light crime dramas like James at 16, Brown retired from acting in the early 80s to focus on family.

Ta Tanisha played one of J.J.'s early girlfriends that didn't exactly have his back yet he was so whipped. Anyway, her career goes back to 1969 when she guest-starred on an episode of Mod Squad and remained pretty busy from the 70s to the 80s with sporadic appearances. She also made an uncredited appearance on Alex Martin's (daughter of Whoopi Golberg) reality show in the 00s.

Rolanda Douglas is one of the few actresses who played different roles on the sitcom. First, it was the snobbish girlfriend who was ready to go and cared less about a burned Penny Gordon. Then she was the second T. C. who actually did make a move on the lean, chocolate, loving machine after undergoing a makeover. Her acting credits range from 1976 to 1987.

Brenda Sykes was J.J.'s chain-smoking date who proved an important lesson about the dangers of tobacco products. Besides an extensive list of acting credits for the small and silver screen, she's also known as the former wife of musician and poet Gil Scott Heron. This 1978 role was also her last, according to IMDB.

Fay Hauser played the married woman who wanted to have her cake and eat it at J.J.'s expense (or his developing ulcer). At 74 years young, she's still booked and busy with recent credits including Glee and Shameless. Hauser also has recent producer and director credits to round out her long list of roles that go back to 1978.

  • While it's nice to see the majority of these actresses are healthy and well, here are some other things that may have been overlooked.
Dap Sugar Willie (above), who played Lootin Lenny, got his start on the comedy circuit. Like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, he sold albums of his performances and this was also a promotional tool that landed him roles in a number of 1970s sitcoms. Sadly, he died in 1994 at the age of 55.

Penny (played by Miss Jackson, of course) is actually named Millicent, which is a clever but odd name choice for a Black child of the 70s.

If you think Bernadette Stanis (Thelma) has disappeared from the silver screen, you're mistaken. Since the show's end in 1979, she's made numerous appearances on sitcoms, done voiceovers, and also attended the prestigious Julliard to upgrade her thespian skills. Her last credit was on TV One's Family Business series which stars Ernie Hudson.

Well, it's good to be back y'all and I hope you can stop by every few weeks where we deliver something different.

Monday, January 30, 2023

To the Faux Marketers Out There

***1. Get a new career so you can finally get out of your mom's basement.***

2. While we undergo another makeover, comments not related to the blog topic will be deleted and you won't get paid whatever fake commission you're earning.

3. In the meantime, we're looking into some new ideas for the blog but if anything, we are not dead...just hibernating.

Oh yeah, Happy New Year, and back to the drawing board. Peace and blessings

via Gfycat

Friday, June 1, 2018

Thank God It's Funny - Irvin C Watson

Lately, I've been watching old Ed Sullivan reruns on the digital broadcasting channel and there are many Black comedians who were either underrated or seemed to disappear from the planet by the time us Gen X's were old enough to understand. I've also discovered other old programs that show an entire host of funny chocolate folks, like Mr. Watson but here's a couple of videos you might like.

This is a new feature I chose to add because 1) Life's too short to not get in a good laugh at least once a week, and 2) I would like to shine a brief light on those comedians that may not be household names today.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

For Die Hard Prince Fans Out There...

Been away longer than I planned but thought I'd return with good news.  My favorite mag, Wax Poetics, is currently taking orders for the posthumous tribute edition.  Issue 67, according to the email I received last night, will be free of ads with full color pages throughout, available as a hard or soft cover copy.

For those not familiar with Wax Poetics (WP) magazine, it's pretty much the Lexus of all periodicals that represent hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and all the subgenres.  Issue 50, which was originally released back in 2013, featured the music legend and featured extended interviews with those who were once close to him musically.  This also was for pre-sale and though re-released in May 2016, is the best-selling edition in the magazine's history.

As for the collector's value, most WP issues bring in a nice return, as most give intimate details and/or exclusive interviews with recording artists of past and present.  I was able to sell my David Bowie/ATCQ issue for almost three times what I paid for it.  Remember back in the day when you went over someone's house and they had the latest issues of Ebony or Jet spread across the coffee table?  If you've got little ones (or kids at heart) that like to scribble on things, you might want to keep these hidden at all costs.