Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Goodnight Benson

Veteran actor and star of the 1970s hit comedy series Benson, Robert Guillaume dies at 89.  After co-starring in a number of films, he rose to commercial success playing the butler to a fictional governor Benson DuBois in the popular sitcom Soap.  The video below was one of his last televised interviews where he described why he almost didn't accept the iconic role.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Schoolhouse Rock Writer and Singer Dies At 85

Jazz drummer and singer Grady Tate got his start with Quincy Jones band back in the 1960's.  He later recorded the somber ballad Suicide is Painless for the M*A*S*H* movie.

Shortly afterwards, Tate and the late Ray Charles would be the most recognizable voices behind the funky Saturday morning cartoons for Gen Xers.  Eventually, this would lead the popular jazzman to a second career in education.  Read more about Mr. Tate's life here.

Is Thug Life the New Blaxploitation?

Think about it.  Hot looking females not only strapped but make target every time.  A dope soundtrack. Everyone speaks in urban slang. Violence.  Maybe hard narcotics.  At the film's climax, someone either died or is badly hurt, either physically or emotionally.

Is this a bad thing or worse, unoriginal?  Not necessarily, as one of my favorites, Power, has at least three of the above named factors.  Additionally, the cable drama is more popular with viewers than Fox Network's Empire, especially in the last couple of years.  While I won't use this post to tear down Cookie and 'em, one thing I will state is the emotionally complex scenarios used in Power make it more meaty than most shows that use a similar formula of a brother who used slangin' to come up.

What about when we make TV shows, big-budget movie and now...stage plays where you have the elements but the story line is "simple"?  Maybe even predictable...can it still be as fun as watching Blacula or even New Jack City.  Well, a new play, THUGS and the Women Who Love Them, is getting mixed reactions at best.  Courtesy of Deadline Detroit.

Based on a 2004 fictional series by Wahida Clark, the play was adapted by producer Melvin Childs and has made short stops in major cities in the past few months.  Casting includes mostly C/D-List entertainers like Ray J, Lyfe Jennings, and reality show superstars (meaning they get continuous work to act a fool on TV).  The only notable on here is Jamal Woolard, who played the title role of Biggie Small in 2007's Notorious.

Some people see the original blaxploitation movement as a way to crawl before walking, as only a handful of actors were offered legitimate (nice, articulate character) roles before.  I once had a debate with a former co-worker about why these types of films should never exist.  While my sentiment was that people needed to get work (and I was only about 20 at the time), she came back much harder.  THIS IS HOW PEOPLE FROM OTHER CULTURES SEE US.

My head was spinning because at that time, no one knew who Rodney King was, L.A. had only one riot, and while Pill Bill Cosby was using his popular sitcom to gradually lecture the viewers about what was right about the world of upper-class blackness, I knew my place in the world.   That was a utopia in my mind where everyone got along and no one saw stereotypes - just good and bad people.

Who would think more than 25 years later that hip-hop (no matter how watered down these days) cannot be used in a different format to tell a story of the streets?  They may not get my money but I feel that people have a right to express themselves by telling their truth.  However, I will be happy when there are more Rainbow Johnsons on my TV screen than Cookie Lyon types.

Throwback Thursday...Something Different

Earth, Wind and Fire has been one of my favorites since I was little and I ran across this video a couple of years ago.  If you miss the old lineup, I think you'll like this short even though I Can't Let Go wasn't one of their huge hits. I also want to wish belated birthday wishes to my fellow Libra, former sax player and percussionist Andrew Woolfolk, who was with them into the early 1990s.

I know I've been slacking on this but beginning next week, I'm combining the two (Wayback Wednesday and Throwback Thursday) for the remainder of the year.  It will be an A-Z of old school music acts and I'm looking forward to putting this together.  Truth, its the least I can do since I've slowed down mentally and physically....but I will keep you updated!  CYA

Friday, October 6, 2017

Actor/Comedian Ralphie May Dies

No, he wasn't the typical Hollywood actor discussed on this blog but a unique presence he was. If you love straight-to-DVD movies or the comedy shows from the 90's to present, chances are this dude cracked you up at some point.

 While May had the potential to be a household name, there were some obstacles that prevented this from happening. During one short career slump, May appeared on Celebrity Fit Club, where he appeared to be handling his morbid obesity. My favorite is the mailman from the early-2000s flick, For Da Love of Money starring Pierre (B.A.P.S.)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wayback Wed is Back

This song is not a personal favorite but the video is.  However, I have to point out a small snafu.  The theme is the celebration of Black beauty from a forgotten era but...the Pam Grier still is kind of an oxymoron.  One (in the red outfit) is a publicity shot from the blaxploitation era.  The second is from her small (but important) role in 1972's Hit Man.  I won't give up the spoiler but right here, Ms. Grier was truly foul as a bottom chick/porn actress.  Thank God for Bernie Casey and that lion!