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Pres. Obama and Trump let their guards down at White House

buzzz worthy. . . By Mona Austin President Obama and Donald Trump met for the first time on Thursday to begin talks about the official...

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

'Phantom' hires first Black lead

buzzz worthy. . .
Producers said Thursday, Norm Lewis,  the Tony Award nominee, who brought his deep and rich voice as Porgy in the recent “Porgy and Bess” revival, will make his debut opposite a returning Sierra Boggess as Christine beginning May 12.
Lewis played John in “Miss Saigon” on Broadway, Javert on Broadway in “Les Miserables” in 2006 and was in the shows “Side Show,” ”The Little Mermaid,” ”Chicago” and “Sondheim on Sondheim.”
Boggess is an old hand with “Phantom” — she played Christine in both the musical’s London 25th anniversary production at Royal Albert Hall and Broadway 25th Anniversary cast last year. Her other starring Broadway credits include Terrence McNally’s “Master Class” and originating the title role in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Lewis will join a list of Phantoms since the show opened in 1988 that includes Michael Crawford, Steve Barton, John Cudia, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Brad Little, Howard McGillin and Hugh Panaro.
Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the story of a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera House and falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish songs include “Masquerade,” ”Angel of Music,” ”All I Ask of You,” ”The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Music of the Night.”
The musical has played to over 130 million people in 27 countries and has grossed over $5.6 billion worldwide — more than any film in history, including “Avatar,” ”Titanic,” ”Gone With the Wind” and “Star Wars.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Some gospel artists should take notes from Kirk Franklin on how to handle stardom

buzzz worthy. . .
By Mona Austin
Gospel music icon Kirk Franklin

The gentleman pictured above is multi-award winning songwriter/producer, Kirk Franklin. (For most people, he needs no introduction.)  I took this photo of him when he was being honored at the Essence Fest.  Known internationally as the top gospel act in the world, he is credited with pioneering the modern contemporary gospel music movement.  I have encountered Franklin numerous times (interviewed him 4) over the years and from our first meeting he has been consistently humble, kind,God-focused and professional. In fact, even though he is to gospel music what the late Michael Jackson was to Pop, he always says "hello" to me and gives me a hug whenever he sees me. Each time, I never expect it because he's "THE KIRK FRANKLIN."  His wife, Tammy, is equally as warm.   Unfortunately, I can not use the same words to describe many of the artists that have followed in his footsteps.  Not ALL, but many  less mature artists are chasing stardom/status/money at a faster pace than they are seeking to save souls. (Therein lies the problem.)  Such artists turn down interviews with media outlets that don't rank high in Google, demand top dollar to perform alongside tenured acts, present long lists of requests for hotel accommodations, etc. with no regard to protocol or the process. What's more, often, the pugnacious attitude of an artist's representative can also spoil their reputation, as it is not always the artist giving off a bad impression. If one of the best to ever do  gospel can act as a servant, why can't they?

The year 2014 marks my 10 year anniversary in the gospel industry.  The industry is much different than it was a decade ago, but the mission will never change. To paraphrase the mission it is to go out and tell everybody about God with salvation being the expected end. Anyone who has the privilege of setting their hand to the plow and cultivating space for God's music (which is simply his words set to rhythms and sounds)  should never lose sight of this shared commitment.

I admire Official Kirk Franklin for his humility just as much as I admire his musical gifts because stars like him in the gospel industry are becoming rare.  As I  reflect on my own personal journey in this business, I hope to continue with a spirit of meekness as Franklin has.   The man in the photo depicts how this genre should be represented.
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FORGIVEN?!: Isaiah Washington to return to 'Grey's Anatomy' as Sandra Oh exits

buzzz worthy. . .
By Mona Austin

Actor Isaiah Washington

In 2007 multi-award winning actor Isaiah Washington was fired from "Grey's Anatomy" for doing the unthinkable in Hollywood: hurling a gay slur at then closeted co-host, T. R. Knight. After Exectutive Producer Shonda Rhimes served him walking papers, Washington was blacklisted.
Seven years later Rhimes has decided to re-hire Washington to tie up some loose ends on the medical drama. After all, Preston Burke (the role he played) did leave Sandra Oh's character Cristina Yang standing at the altar, only offering an explanation in a letter.

"It’s important to me that Cristina’s journey unfolds exactly as it should. Burke is vital to that journey — he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang."

Rhimes thinks Burke being on the show will bring about proper closure. 

Washington will return to Grey's with the blessing of  GLAAD, which was previously one of the loudest voices against the actor. The pro-gay group said in a statement:

His PSA and his statements promoting marriage equality in recent years have sent a strong message of support for LGBT people. We look forward to seeing him return to one of our favorite shows, as well as in Patrik-Ian Polk's moving film Blackbird about a young man coming out in a small Southern town.” 

The unexpected will happen this May, in an episode preceding the one in which Sandra Oh will say goodbye for ever as Dr. Cristina Yang. Her departure has long been confirmed by producers and showrunner Shonda Rhimes. 
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WANTED: Police are on the look out for Anita Baker

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Anita Baker
A bench warrant has been issued for the arrest of R&B singer Anita Baker.  The "Sweet Love" singer was allegedly accused of failing to pay for over $15,000 to Ray A. Smith Painting & Decorating for work done on her home in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Reports indicate the warrant was issued because Baker was subpoenaed  to appear at a creditor's examination, but was a no show. Baker, a Grammy award winner who was recognized for lifetime achievement at the 2010 Soul Train Awards, was popular in the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Baker previously faced jail time for failing to sign a document related to splitting music royalties with her ex husband.

Jamal Hamood, Baker's attorney, said she is currently out of town and was not aware that she was being sued.  Hamood plans to file a motion to cancel the warrant.

The attorney for the company, Daniel Gerow, told the Detroit News he does not want Baker to go to jail, he just wants his client to get paid.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014


Film Tells Inspiring True Story of Angela Logan and How Her Apples Cakes Saved Her Family and Home From Foreclosure; Apple Mortgage Cake Premieres Exclusively on UP, Easter Sunday At 7 p.m. (EST)
ATLANTA - March 19, 2014 - UP, America's favorite channel for uplifting family entertainment, presents the UP Original Movie Apple Mortgage Cake, the inspiring true story of Angela Logan who when faced with foreclosure set a goal to bake 100 cakes in 10 days to save her home.  Starring four-time NAACP Image Award winner Kimberly Elise ("Diary of a Mad Black Woman", "For Colored Girls", "Grey's Anatomy") and produced by Entertainment One (eOne).  Michael Scott ("Mrs. Miracle," UP's Far From Home) directs the film from a script by Jamie Pachino ("Franklin & Bash").  Apple Mortgage Cake will premiere exclusively on UP on Easter SundayApril 20 at 7:00 p.m.

The ensemble cast also includes Kevin Hanchard ("Orphan Black," "Suits"), Lamar Johnson ("The Next Step", Home Again), Stephan James ("Degrassi: The Next Generation," Home Again), A.J. Saudin ("Degrassi: The Next Generation," "Da Kink in My Hair"), Gemini Award winner Gabrielle Miller ("Corner Gas," "Call Me Fitz), Joanne Boland ("Copper," "Lost Girl"), Paul De La Rosa ("The L.A. Complex," "Covert Affairs"), Gemini Award winner Catherine Disher ("The Border," "Flashpoint"), Peter Williams ("Stargate SG-1," "Da Kink in My Hair"), Siobhan Murphy ("Rookie Blue," "Men With Brooms"), Barry Flatman ("The Kennedys," "Defiance"), Darlene Cooke ("Saving Hope," "Da Kink in My Hair") and Millie Davis (The Best Man Holiday, "Orphan Black").  The real-life Angela Logan makes a cameo appearance.

Angela Logan (Kimberly Elise)is a single, working mom with three teenage boys, Marcus (A.J. Saudin), William (Stephan James) and Nicolas (Lamar Johnson) in Teaneck, NJ.  She juggles various jobs and helps with employment counseling at the local Mission.  While thrilled to be in the family home where she learned to bake, the house is falling apart, with sections deemed uninhabitable by inspectors after storm and flood damage.  She has always made due until now - when her lender calls in the mortgage loan and puts her into foreclosure.  Angela has 10 days to come up with $4000 or lose her home.

This is the true story of a woman who decides to bake 100 apple cakes and sell them at $40 each in order to save her home - and how this idea completely changes her and her family.  As word of her "bake sale" ripples out through neighbors, friends, her church and even old flames, such as Melvin (Kevin Hanchard), the story soon spreads to the news, locally, nationally and internationally.  Angela is taken off guard by the overwhelming support.  But soon, this fiercely independent woman learns to depend on the kindness and love of others that comes her way. 

"Apple Mortgage Cake is the inspirational, real-life story about how one good idea - plus several bushels of apples, sugar, flour and butter -- helps a family rise from financial disaster in the worst of the recent recession," said Leslie Glenn Chesloff, executive vice president of programming, UP.  "Angela Logan went from home foreclosure to 'overnight' national success as her homemade apple cakes helped her build a prosperous apple cake business.  We think this is a perfect movie for our viewers in April, especially on Easter Sunday."

Logan is now the owner of Mortgage Apple Cakes, LLC, based in Teaneck.
UP presents Apple Mortgage Cake, an Entertainment One Ltd. production.  Starring Kimberly Elise, Kevin Hanchard, Lamar Johnson, Stephan James, A.J. Saudin, Gabrielle Miller, Joanne Bolland, Paul De La Rosa, Catherine Disher, Peter Williams, Siobhan Murphy, Barry Flatman, Darlene Cooke and Millie Davis.  Directed by Michael Scott.  Produced by Entertainment One's Jonathan Schwartz and Robert Lee.  Director of Photography is Boris Mojsovski.  Editor is Charlotte Disher.  Script by Jamie Pachino.  Entertainment One is also the international distributor.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PHOTOS: Celebration of Gospel 2014 Red Carpet Style Report

buzzz worthy. . .

By Mona Austin

The fashion God's were smiling down on the Celebration of Gospel (COG) red carpet on March 15. The glamour factor is usually subdued at this annual gathering of singing superstars, as many of the performers opt for more functional fabulosity.  I like that they dress in a way that looks "doable."

COG performers tend   to keep it urban and trendy.  However, this year there was a variety of styles along the path into the Orpheum Theatre. Red carpet stand outs include three Grammy winners: Tye Tribbett, Erica Campbell and India Arie.

Tye Tribbett pulled off a Scottish inspired ensemble consisting of a hooded blazer, plaid pants and black and white striped shirt.

A form-fitting sophisticated black dress hugged the curves of Erica Campbell paired with a cheetah print crop jacket.

In a timeless, floor length, African print gown, India Arie looked proud of her heritage and stunning.

Take a look at the other stars who blessed Celebration of Gospel with their stylish presence.
Charlie Wilson and wife.

Erica Campbell

Dr. Bobby Jones

Lala Hahaway

India Arie

Tye Tribbett

Vashawn Mitchell

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Edwin Edwards announces he is running for congress

buzzz worthy. . .

Three years after imprisonment, corruption-laden former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards announced his  bid for Congress on St. Patrick's Day, despite his tarnished past.  He told members of the Louisiana Press Club he weighed the pros and cons of pursuing office and decided to move forward because the good reasons outweigh the bad.  The head of Louisiana's GOP said Edwards' antics are fit for reality T.V., not public office. Edwards served almost 9 years in prison for extortion, fraud and racketeering charges.  Claiming the charges he serves time were a well know misperception he said in an interview with NBC's Churck Todd, "I did not do what he was charged with and convicted of " adding the conviction  came after he left the governor's office. 

The 86-year-old career politician would run for governor again if he could, but said since there are questions about his eligibility he will avoid the controversy. By law Edwards running for governor would require a pardon from the President.  

Edwin Edwards announced he will run for Congress on March 17, 2014.

Todd inquired about if Edwards would have voted for Obama if given to opportunity.  Edwards said he did not get to vote in the last eveletion because there were no voting machines in prison.  His indirect response was that he does not always vote for a Democrat and Louisiana Democrats and  Republicans are differnt form theparty image nationally.    "We're different down here.  We're better," said the emboldened career politician.  

On the issues, Edwards does not support Obama's Affordable Care Act as he feels it is too complicated. "Why should a person keep his or her job to keep his or her insurance?" posed the former Louisiana governor. Edwards hopes to serve on the Public Works and Agriculture committees to address the oil & gas industry and infrastructure concerns in the state.

Ewards will run in the 6th District in the Southern part of the stae, which encompasses Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge.  

Elections will be held on November 4, 2014

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Legendary Clark Sisters Surprise Daytime Talk Show Host Queen Latifah for Her Birthday with a Special Performance Airing Tuesday, March 18

buzzz worthy. . . New Projects Underway for the Sisters

(Detroit, MI – March 17, 2014) -- The multiple GRAMMY® Award winners, The Clark Sisters surprise daytime talk show host Queen Latifah with a special performance for her birthday. The show will air nationally on Tuesday, March 18 (check TV guide for local listings). The Clark Sisters is one of Latifah’s favorite music groups. The sisters and Latifah have been mutual fans for nearly 20 years.

“When we received the call from the show’s producers requesting us to make a special guest appearance, we were elated,” says Karen Clark Sheard. “We have followed her career for years and we just love and adore her. She was very surprised, grateful and generous.” The Clark Sisters blessed Latifah with a special performance of the group’s signature hit, “You Brought the Sunshine” along with another surprise. See video promo link of television appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouCMdztrIJQ.

Queen Latifah poses with surprise guests, The Clark Sisters

 In the 1970s, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark formed her daughters into the Clark Sisters. In 1973, they recorded their first album, Jesus Has A Lot to Give. In 1983, their signature song, “You Brought the Sunshine,” from the album of the same title, became a smash hit—as popular on dance floors as in churches.

Over the years, the sisters have recorded 20 albums with countless number one singles including “Endow Me,” “Pray for the USA,” “Name It Claim It,” “Is My Living in Vain?” “Blessed and Highly Favored,” and other top charting singles. The Clark Sisters are recipients of multiple Stellar Gospel Music Awards and GMA Dove Awards, among other accolades. The sisters have new and ongoing projects underway: Karen Clark Sheard’s new single, “Sunday AM” (pronounced “Sunday Morning”) will be available on iTunes on March 18 (https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sunday-a.m.-single/id829725886?ls=1); Dorinda Clark Cole’s new show, The Gospel According to Dorinda, airs weekly on the Word Network on Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET.; Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark Terrell is currently promoting her Live and Unplugged CD and headlining The Signature Songs of Twinkie Clark Tour; and Jacky Clark Chisholm’s new book, Inspirational Praise, is available online.
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