Aw Hell, Phaedra Parks Made Tootie Cry!

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Over the last few seasons, various additions to the cast have left Real Housewives of Atlanta something I have not cared to watch.  And frankly, the fact that there are fewer wives and mothers on the show makes it not exactly live up to the title  That aside, I was particularly moved by a preview of tonight’s episode that featured a moment of realization between Phaedra Parks and new housewife, Kim Fields.

I grew up watching Kim who made appearances on Good Times in the 1970’s, in commercials saying “right on, Christie!,” while championing Barbie’s black friend, on Facts of Life in the 1980’s, and again on the 1990’s sitcom Living Single with Queen Latifah.  I even enjoyed her directing work on the Tyler Perry sitcoms.

Kim is now crying to Phaedra saying how she lost herself and it is eerily reminiscent of when Mrs. Gordon told Wilona the same on an episode of Good Times before she abandoned Penny (played by Janet Jackson).  Not because Kim is a bad or abusive mother, she’s actually the opposite, you hear as much in the exchange she has with Phaedra.  I say it because Kim’s mother, Chip, played Mrs. Gordon she looks just like her.  You are reminded that she comes from a show business family (her younger sister Alexis had a recurring role on Moesha in the 1990’s).

Phaedra gives her some sound advice about finding things that she likes to do, but ignores one main factor that is difficult for people like Fields, this is probably the first time in her life she is not working and doesn’t know how to do that. Phaedra is forgetting that working, for her was a choice.  Kim became a model, then actress before she even knew what that meant and has been doing it longer than some of us have been alive. It is an adjustment that those of us who are not famous, or who like Phaedra, were gifted fame in adulthood cannot possibly understand.
I hope THIS Kim is a good fit for the show. I still won’t be watching.

RHOA airs on Bravo at 8pm EST (I, think)

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Fox Announces Grease Live Trailer. I, Mean, Really…They Did.

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The Wiz Live! premieres this week and though NBC’s other live broadcasts have been problematic, the buzz is all about this production.  In the past, the live productions haven’t translated well to TV screens.  However, that may a problem of the past that will not be revisited with The Wiz.  By all indications it seems producers have takens the elements of the live stage play and blended those with the cinematography of the film version starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.  Since the latter is a constant fixture on black television, it is easier to gauge certain visuals on smaller screens and weed out less desirable images.  Coupled with an uncompromising cast of stars, reminiscent of the 1978 film’s star power, The Wiz Live! will almost undoubtedly translate far better than some anticipate.

However, it is not entirely free from the shade of competition. There is always one, my friends.  There is always one. Fox, has decided to enter the picture this week only to remind us that except on Wednesdays, when Empire is still on, they somehow still exist. How do they counter the blackest of all live 1970’s musicals to be recreated on television, by announcing the whitest of all 1970’s live musicals to be recreated on television the same week the former premieres. Why? Just remember that Fox still owns FOX News.  Fox has released their “first look” at Grease Live! Coming in January, Grease stars Dancing With The Stars alum, Julianne Hough as Sandy and Aaron Tveit as Danny. Hough’s acting is, “meh,” and her signing is below subpar.  I had to Google Tveit only to find he’s been in in nothing significant enough to make Fox use him as a lure from the attention being rightfully earned by The Wiz.  To add further insult to injury, the supporting cast includes Vanessa Hudgens, Carlos PenaVega, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Keke Palmer (for shame).

No. This isn’t for shiggles. Fox was dead serious!

NBC is serving up major celebrity realness with Queen Latifah, Common, Mary J. Blige, Ne-Yo and the original Dorothy, Stephanie Mills among other big stars in their live version while Fox gives the equivalent of weak tea.

Meanwhile, the folks over at Gossip & Gab are pretty excited about this little high school musical (pun intended!) and you can read their musings here.  I no longer can with this story, it’s too much even for me.  It’s an abomination, and frankly a bit disrespectful. But, hey, time will tell. Grease Live! airs January 31 on Fox.  The Wiz Live! airs this week, December 3rd on NBC.

American Exceptionalism: Same Folks Who Can’t Afford Empire-inspired Clothing at Saks Bash Nicki Minaj for Line at Kmart.

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I used to write a lot about music. I used to write a lot about hip hop music and I used to write a lot about hip hop popular culture. As a woman that is no easy feat. As a black woman, it is even more of a challenge.  It’s never other authors I have issues with in most cases, it’s those who comment on their posts.  Allhiphop.com’s Tanay Hudson did a good preview of Nicki Minaj’s new clothing line. It wasn’t the article but the the raging stream of boastful, misspelled, misogynistic ignorance that followed in the comments that was too much.

People, I am baffled and besmirched. Befuddled and bemused. Saks Fifth Avenue announced in August sometime an Empire-inspired clothing line. All the Cookie’s closet conundrum their show’s fans can stand at prices they cannot afford, and not one model that even remotely looked like Cookie.  Instead, she looked like Kate Blanchett, but not one word of disrespect. Not one. These same folks were raving about Cookie’s clothing as if it defined what I hope is the decline of the “bad bitch” era.  Not even an honorable mention about their price tags where one halter top costs $895.  Totally unrealistic for those who want to feel like a celebrity but live on a working mom’s salary. Also, let’s not overlook the fact that the majority of the hip hop nation is so overly disenfranchised by racism, poor education and an unjust justice system that they can’t afford it!

But enter Nicki Minaj.  Throughout her career, she has gotten some things wrong, but lately Nicki has been hitting all the right notes with women, especially black women and other women of color and those who feel voiceless and forgotten.  Unlike her peers in the music business whose clothing lines come with exorbitant price tags one has to mortgage a house for or the TV flavor of the month, Nicki has opted for affordable fashion that is accessible and is designed to fit the bodies women have, not what the industry thinks  women should have.

Now let’s be real here, unless you are shaped like Nicki, you won’t look like her in the clothes.  You will look like you.  And, yes they are from Kmart, I am not sure how durable they are, but they are affordable and you won’t face eviction or repossession after buying just one outfit. Like  the Cookie Lyon’s-inspired fashions, they aren’t every day go-to-work wear, but you also don’t pay a car note for the privilege of not doing so, either.  What you can do is go out, have fun, and not worry how your next three months of pay is tied up in paying for something you may only wear once.

Allhiphop.com’s comments section is flooded by wannabe emcees writing wack lyrics to find things that rhyme with Meek Mill, Kmart, Drake and Phil Collins (I kid you not). There are the people clowning her because it is Kmart.  There are those who are “well, it’s not Ralph,” or “I only shop at H&M.”  Of course there’s the “don’t shop on Black Friday” crowd. Then, there are the ones who just flat out call her dumb. Sadly, most of these commentators are men, black men.

Sigh.

I often wonder if they are ripping her apart because she’s Nicki and looks like Nicki. If she looked like a Kardashian and did this would Nicki’s skinfolk be so insensitive? Absolutely not! In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? In my opinion, absolutely not. Why? See, while they are ripping her clothing line apart in public, but buying it in secret, she can actually afford to buy every piece in the Empire line, even some of the custom pieces if she chooses, and not worry where her next meal is coming from.  

After “Blacklash,” Director/Studio Apologize for ‘Gods of Egypt’

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For months now black folks and all other people of color have been screaming to your deaf ears the serious implications and fallacies that lie in moving forward with a film entitled “God’s of Egypt” where most of the Egyptian (read: African) Gods are white, European, non-racially ethnic at all. Essentially, your response was, “it’s fiction, get over it, stop whining, we don’t care, we are making our movie, our way with our money.”

This is not the first time Hollywood has assigned the roles of non-white characters to white actors.  It is, in fact, a long-standing tradition in films that have some type of historical significance that is often misconstrued to erase the very real place people of color have in history. Johnny Depp who is not Native American was cast as “Tonto” in 2013’s The Lone Ranger; Natalie Wood played the Puerto Rican character Maria in 1961’s West Side Story; and in 1963, Elizabeth Taylor was infamously cast as Cleopatra.

Now that we are on the precipice of the premiere, we see three things happening/happened: Straight Outta Compton shattered every expectation this summer proving that a film with an all black cast and black theme can be highly successful, NBC’s live version of The Wiz is getting a LOT of buzz due to its major star power, and Creed did extremely well this holiday weekend with a black male lead.  The latter is what brings us to what appears is a sudden change of heart and a whole lot of fear by producers and all others associated with Gods of Egypt. They are no longer concerned about their money, but OUR money: black money.  A portion of over $1.3 trillion in spending they worry they will not get if we boycott this film.

In recent statements published Saturday by CNN, director Alex Proyas has finally responded to months of complaints, including a Black Twitter dragging with this statement: “it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse.”

More diverse? Really. So you are just going to “my bad” your way out of this? How do I shade thee? Let me count the ways!  Honestly, there’s not even enough greenery on this earth for the amount of shade this deserves, so I will defer to black twitter and other director in Hollywood, like Ana DuVernay, who are responding to this half-baked excuse of nothingness. They’ve got shade and then some. On Saturday, Duvernay tweeted, in part, “Makes me cheer more for Coogler’s CREED.”  Touche! You can read more about how Black Twitter chopped this apology up here.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Watch the 2015 Soul Train Awards Tonight

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Tonight, BET will air the 2015 Soul Train Awards. Over the years, the show has waxed and waned in terms of its ability to appeal to mass markets, but for many who grew up watching the original Soul Train on Saturday mornings, it is one of the more exciting and more endearing awards shows that celebrates black music and gives just due to artists who often go unrecognized and unrewarded.

This year’s show proves to be an exciting one full of #BlackGirlMagic.  Like shows in the past, it was pre-taped earlier this month and scheduled to air over the holiday weekend.  Here are 5 reasons why the 2015 show is not one to miss:

  1. Let’s be honest, BET hasn’t had much soul in its programming for over a decade and a half.  This will likely be the blackest thing you see on BET since Bob Johnson sold it and they took BET News off the air.
  1. There will be an amazing tribute to Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds where Fantasia SLAYS her rendition of “Superwoman.” Not only does she slay, but she’s got Babyface singing backup. (Guuuurl, tell me how did do you do that!? That’s magic!) Grab a sneak peak here.
  1. The show is being hosted by Erykah Badu who will go a whole 2-3 hours with not even one clothing change! Not a one. Badu also got to serve as the show’s associate producer and write some of her own material for the program.  She discussed this gig with Jimmy Fallon in an interview on his show.
  1. Jill Scott is this year’s recipient of the Lady of Soul award, and rightfully earned.  Scott is being recognized for her long-standing influence in the industry and on soul music.  She celebrates 15 years in the business this year. Jilly from Philly will perform a medley of her hits during the tribute.
  1. Following in the tradition of the BET Awards ever-popular The Cypher series, the Soul Train Awards will offer Soul Cypher, which will mesh current soul artists with those who’ve inspired them.  Erykah Badu will serve as DJ.  If for no other reason, this will be a reason to tune in.  Lalah Hathaway and Eddie Levert will not disappoint.

Soul Train, what was once called “the hippest trip in America,” by its founder, the late Don Cornelius brought soul into the homes of Americans regardless of race from 1973-2006.  Able to claim itself the “longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history,” Soul Train spent an unprecedented 35 years on the air. The awards have been aired every year since 1987, with the exception of 2008.  The program will be simulcast on BET and Centric and will begin at 8pm EST.  Don’t worry if you miss the first run; this is BET, after all. It will re-run until the 2016 pre-show.

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