Archives for : BLACK HOLLYWOOD

Empire: Are you watching Fox Tonight?


Diana Ross: Vintage Beauty!


Empire: The Family is here


jan Gaye: After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye


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Gaye, Jan. After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye. Amistad: HarperCollins. May 2015. 224p. ISBN 9780062135513. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062135537. MEMOIR
On her 17th birthday, Janis Hunter met rhythm-and-blues legend Marvin Gaye as he was stumbling out of his first marriage, and despite a 16-year age difference, they launched a too-hot-to-handle affair.

Their own marriage eventually collapsed under the weight of fame, drug abuse, and domestic strife. Here, Jan speaks out for the first time since Marvin was shot and killed by his father in 1984. Reportedly sizzling stuff, with many famed music figures of the day drifting through; with a 50,000-copy first printing.


This searing memoir of drugs, sex, and old school R&B from the wife of legendary soul icon Marvin Gaye.

On her seventeenth birthday in 1973, Janice Hunter met Marvin Gaye-the soulful prince of Motown with the seductive liquid voice whose chart-topping, socially conscious albumWhat”s Going Onmade him a superstar two years earlier. Despite a sixteen-year-age difference and Marvin”s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown”s founder, the star-struck teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

One moment Jan was studying high school history; the next she was accompanying Marvin to parties with other pop stars, lounging with Don Cornelius on the set ofSoul Train,and helping to discover new talent like Frankie Beverly. But the distractions and burdens of fame, the chaos of dysfunctional families, and the irresistible temptations of drugs overshadowed the love they shared and their marriage disintegrated.

Silent since Marvin”s tragic death in 1984, Jan at last opens up, sharing the moving, erotically charged story of one of music history”s most fabled marriages. Unsparing in its honesty and insight, illustrated with sixteen pages of color and black-and-white photos,After the Dancereveals what it”s like to ride shotgun on a wave of fame and self-destruction with a tortured genius who helped transform popular culture and whose artistry continues to be celebrated today.



“A Man’s Duty”: 95th Anniversary



On this day in 1919, the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, the first movie company organized by Black filmmakers, released “A Man’s Duty”.

Harry Belafonte: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award



Harry Belafonte will be presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 6th Annual Governors Awards on November 8th, in Hollywood, California.

Kimora Lee Simmons: Paying Homage


Black musicians:The Blacklist?

BREAKING NEWS: AEG/BET DISS STEVIE WONDER! On June 23, 2014, AEG made it known that Black musicians, publicists and media that they are the new slaves and that any concert or profitable experience related to Black musicians in Black Music Month in L.A. will happen ONLY through AEG. The company made Stevie Wonder, Howard Hewitt and 400 VIPs stand in the lobby of a music awards show for THIRTY MINUTES before completely CANCELLING the event and blacklisting the event creators. As you know, AEG owns , manages or is involved with all things related to Grammy Museum, L.A. Live, Nokia and have deep relationships with other companies – like BET’s owner, Viacom. The companies are putting on the BET Experience but the drama is quickly coming to a fever pitch level.

To show Black reporters who is boss, major Black media outlets, important Black photographers like LEGENDARY PHOTOGRAPHER Bill Jones, Malcolm Payne, entertainment pioneer Tanya Hart and others were DENIED red carpet credentials to BET Awards’ red carpet. As of June 28, 2014, BPR was told that was still the case. It may have been corrected by now but we aren’t aware of it. In fact, there is so many white faces at the BET Awards and Experience this year, it is more than a little uncomfortable.

On June 27, 2014, BET followed suit and denied an unimaginable amount of Black-owned media outlets access to cover the event, forcing many of them to get their content from White-owned media outlets. All about town, Viacom ignored Lionel Richie and ran ads promoting artists like Rick Ross and others who project a cartoonist image.

On June 28, 2014, Black journalists, bloggers and photographers held a meeting and decided to publicize the situation. BPR’s DC Livers, managing editor for the Historical Black Press Foundation, reached out to BPR media relations’ brass to give them a chance to respond, but were told that they will meet with our members “after the awards show.” Because BPR represents 200 Black newspapers and magazines, thousands of Black media professionals and over 100 bloggers and photographers, we cannot allow BET to push them out of the way. Giving contracts to Splash, Getty and AP while restricting Black access to the BET Awards is unacceptable. PERIOD.

DC Livers will be speaking again today to BET Awards brass to try to quell the situation on-the-scene but to be clear, we WILL stand with our publishers and members in whatever decision they make to achieve MEDIA EQUALITY!

If you are a media member who wanted credentials but were turned down, call 917-940-3099 and they them you STAND WITH THE BLACK PRESS on achieving media equality.

Three the Hard Way:40th Anniversary!





40th anniversary of Three the Hard Way circa June 26, 1974.

Three The Hard Way was released in 1974 and is considered one of the classic action movies of the blaxploitation genre. Directed by the acclaimed Gordon Parks Jr., son of Gordon Parks (Shaft 1971) and director of Super Fly (1972), the film stars the three biggest black action stars of the era; Jim Brown (The Dirty Dozen, El Condor, Slaughter) as record producer Jimmy Lait, Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Bucktown) as entrepreneur Jagger Daniels, and Jim Kelly (Enter the Dragon, Black Samurai, Black Belt Jones, One Down Two to Go) as martial arts master Mister Keyes.

“Life’s ssentials with Ruby Dee,”:Documentary


The documentary about the beloved artists-activists Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, will debut this weekend at The American Black Film Festival. The film is directed by their grandson, Muta’Ali. It will be shown on Sunday, June 22.

“Life’s ssentials with Ruby Dee,” part tribute, part history lesson and part coming-of-age story, will give viewers an intimate look into the remarkable lives of the couple many consider the all-time king and queen of black Hollywood.


“To admire and speak highly of my grandparents is easy, but to apply their principles in my own life has proven less so. There is self-discovery in the vast space between what I look up to—their 56 year marriage, their socially conscious career choices, and their bravery in the struggle—and what I may be willing to practice,” says Muta’Ali.

The documentary is produced by Jevon “NJ” Frank and features notables Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Hill Harper, Samuel Jackson, Spike Lee, Sonia Sanchez, and Dr. Cornel West. They all offer insights into and memories of the couple’s love, art, and activism.

“Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee” will be screened on Sunday, June 22 at 1:50 p.m. at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre, 333 West 23 Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Manhattan. (Take the A, C, E or 1 to 23rd Street.) Tickets are $12.00 and can be purchased by visiting For more information on the film, visit

by Cedric ‘BIG CED’ Thornton 

Ruby Dee: (October 27, 1922-June 11, 2014)


The Legendary Actress, star of screen and stage, and  Civil Rights activist Ruby Dee has passed away at the age of 91yrs old.

Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963)

In the early morning of June 12, 1963, just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s speech on national television in support of civil rights, Medgar Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that read “Jim Crow Must Go,” Evers was struck in the back with a bullet fired from an Enfield 1917 rifle; the bullet ripped through his heart. He staggered 9 meters (30 feet) before collapsing. He was taken to the local hospital in Jackson where he was initially refused entry because of his color, until it was explained who he was; he died in the hospital 50 minutes later.

On June 21, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and member of the White Citizens’ Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan), was arrested for Evers’ murder.

District Attorney and future governor Bill Waller prosecuted De La Beckwith. Juries composed solely of white men twice that year deadlocked on De La Beckwith’s guilt.

In 1994, 30 years after the two previous trials had failed to reach a verdict, De La Beckwith was brought to trial based on new evidence. Bobby DeLaughter was the prosecutor. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed from his grave for an autopsy. De La Beckwith was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing (he was imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 for conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick). De La Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison in January 2001.


N.W.A: Ice Cube



In an upcoming biopic about N.W.A, Ice Cube will be portrayed by his dead-on look alike! Cube’s son Oshea Jackson has been cast to play his famous rapper father in the planned film about N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton,” The Wrap reported. The Universal project will tell the story of the hip hop group’s rise to fame from the streets of Los Angeles through the band’s breakup in 1991. “I’ve been trying to get that pushed along,” the rapper said in a February interview. “Just wanna make sure that he’s the best man for the job.” said Cube of his son.

Jada Pickette-Smith:Mature Women

When Trey’s mother, Sheree, and I took this photo, we were not the women we eventually became. This was a moment when we BOTH made a decision to be BIGGER, to be BETTER, not just for our family but for ourselves as well. Do something today you thought you could NEVER do that makes you bigger and better. Sometimes we simply have to start with ACTING like it, even if we ain’t actually feel’n it.

I’m full of love for you

Diana Ross: The Josephine Baker Story



Think Like A Man: Female Edition

1011259_757261124296745_8474583205978350747_n(L) to (R) Megan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, LaLa Anthony, and Regina Hall.

Laverne Cox: Transgender America







Orange is the new Black actress/ Reality star Laverne Cox covers the latest issue of Time Magazine to discuss being African – American and Transgender in today’s society.

Black Women Of Cinema




 Dioahann Carroll, Hattie McDaniel ,Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, Ethel Water, Dorothy Dandridge, Pam Grier, Eartha Kitt, and Cicely Tyson.




Herb Jeffries:Herbert “Herb” Jeffries (September 24, 2011-May 25, 2014)


Herb Jeffries, who sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra during the Swing Era and made movie history in the 1930s as “The Bronze Buckaroo,” the silver screen’s first black singing cowboy, has died. He was 100.

Jeffries died of heart failure Sunday at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center, said Raymond Strait, who had been working with Jeffries on his autobiography. Jeffries had been in declining health for some time.

Known for his rich baritone and sensitive phrasing, Jeffries was a member of the Duke Ellington Orchestra in the early 1940s when he scored his biggest hit with “Flamingo,” which sold in the millions and became his signature tune.

“Jeffries’ version of ‘Flamingo’ with Duke Ellington was, and is, a jazz classic,” music critic Don Heckman told The Times in 2010. “Jeffries’ rich-toned ballad style resonated in the work of such male jazz singers as Johnny Hartman, Joe Williams and even Sammy Davis Jr. for decades after the chart-breaking success of his ‘Flamingo.'”

As the African American answer to Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and other white singing cowboys, Jeffries made a handful of low-budget westerns in the ’30s.

They had titles such as “Harlem Rides the Range” and “The Bronze Buckaroo” and featured the tall, handsome, wavy-haired singer with a Gable-esque mustache as a dashing, white-hatted good guy in a black western outfit and riding a white horse named Stardusk.

The idea to make movie westerns with all-black casts was Jeffries’.

“Little children of dark skin — not just Negroes, but Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, everybody of color — had no heroes in the movies,” he told The Times in 1998. “I was so glad to give them something to identify with.”

He was born Umberto Valentino in Detroit on Sept. 24, 1913.

“My mother was Irish, my father was Sicilian, and one of my great-grandparents was Ethiopian,” Jeffries, who took his stepfather’s last name, told the Oklahoman in 2004. “So I’m an Italian-looking mongrel with a percentage of Ethiopian blood, which enabled me to get work with black orchestras.”

He began singing locally as a teenager before heading to Chicago, where he started touring as a singer with Earl “Fatha” Hines. In the deep South, he was struck by the number of black movie audiences viewing white cowboy pictures.

Realizing the size of the potential market, he talked Jed Buell, a white, independent B-movie producer in Hollywood, into helping out.

But finding an African American who could ride, sing, and act was difficult — until the tall, broad-shouldered Jeffries, who learned to ride on his grandfather’s dairy farm in Michigan, nominated himself.

“No way. They’ll never buy you; you’re not black enough,” the light-skinned Jeffries remembered Buell saying. Jeffries said Buell finally agreed to let him play the part but insisted that Jeffries wear makeup to darken his skin.

“Harlem on the Prairie,” billed as “the first all-Negro musical western,” was released in 1937. Among the all-black cast members were Spencer Williams, who later portrayed Andy on “Amos ‘n’ Andy” on television, and comedian Mantan Moreland, who provided comic relief.

Jeffries earned $5,000 for the film, which was shot at a dude ranch near Victorville in five days.

Each of the films that followed were produced just as fast. In later years, Jeffries would jokingly refer to them as “C-movies.” But he took great pride in them.

“To say I was the first black singing cowboy on the face of this earth is a great satisfaction,” he told American Visions in 1997.

In an era when black actors typically played subservient roles on screen, Jeffries stood out.

“Herb was a sex symbol,” New York University film professor Donald Bogle, author of “Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies & Bucks,” a history of black films, told The Times in 2003. “With his wavy hair and Clark Gable mustache, he might have been a different kind of star had America been a different kind of place.”

Three more musical westerns starring Jeffries were released over the next two years, “Two-Gun Man from Harlem,” “The Bronze Buckaroo” and “Harlem Rides the Range.”

Jeffries cashed in on his fame by making stage appearances with the Four Tones, his movie backup singers.

Touring in a Cadillac with steer horns on the front and his name in gold rope on the side, he’d do rope tricks, spin his six-shooters and sing.

While promoting his final film in Detroit in 1939, Jeffries showed up at a performance by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and was invited to sing. Ellington later asked Jeffries to join his orchestra on tour.

Jeffries, who began singing with what has been described as a luscious tenor, followed the advice of Ellington’s composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn and lowered his range to what music critic Jonny Whiteside later called a “silken, lusty baritone.”

In addition to recording with Ellington, Jeffries appeared in Ellington’s legendary all-black musical revue “Jump for Joy” in 1941. The show, featuring a 60-member cast that also included Ivie Anderson, Joe Turner and newcomer Dorothy Dandridge, ran for 12 weeks at the Mayan Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

Drafted into the Army during World War II, Jeffries sang in a Special Services company entertaining troops. After the war, he had a number of hit records, including “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” and “Basin Street Blues.”

By the early ’50s, he had moved to France and opened a popular jazz club in Paris called the Flamingo and another club in southern France. He continued to perform both in Europe and the United States and played the title role in the 1957 film “Calypso Joe,” costarring Angie Dickinson.

He returned to the U.S. in the 1960s, settling in the Los Angeles area, and made guest appearances on a number of television series over the next two decades.

In 1992, a tribute to the singing cowboys at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum — along with the discovery of copies of several of Jeffries’ long-lost cowboy pictures in a cellar in Texas — triggered a resurgence of interest in his movie career.

In addition to being rediscovered by the mainstream media for his role in breaking Hollywood race barriers on screen in the ’30s, Jeffries was featured in a segment of Turner Broadcasting’s “The Untold West” and scenes from his westerns appeared in Mario Van Peebles’ 1993 movie “Posse.”

The renewed interest led him to Nashville, where he recorded “The Bronze Buckaroo (Rides Again)” for the Warner Western label in 1995.

Jeffries, whose marriages included one to burlesque legend Tempest Storm, is survived by his fifth wife, Savannah; three daughters; and two sons.

McLellan is a former Times staff writer.


Lupita Nyong’o: 2014 Cannes Debut


dress by Calvin Klein

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