Oct06

Mayweather Earns $41.5 Million In 45th Win

Undefeated champion boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jr earned a record $41.5 million last month in the ring  against Canelo Alvarez. The veteran fighter shattered his previous records of $32 million, which he pocketed from each of his last two bouts against Robert Guerrero and Miguel Cotto.

It should come then as no surprise that Forbes named Mayweather, who grew up poor in Grand Rapids, MI, the 2012 highest paid athlete with annual earnings projected at $85 million.

Galvanized by unprecedented mega paydays, the eight-world titleholder has surpassed golf legend Tiger Woods ($59.4 million), who had previously dominated the No. 1 spot on Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes since 2001.

Mayweather has turned himself into a media magnet. In 2007, his fight against Oscar De La Hoya engendered a record-breaking 2.5 million paper-view subscribers. Mayweather made $25 million from the fight.  Outside of the ring the 36-year-old has appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and Wrestle Mania.

Sep04

Q&A: Forest Whitaker

College athlete-turned-actor Forest Whitaker is currently the talk of Tinseltown with his powerful portrayal of real life White House employee, Eugene Allen in Lee Daniels’ The Butler in theaters now. The 52-year-old known for such films as The Color Of Money, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Panic Room, The Twilight Zone, The Great Debaters and his memorable work on TV series “The Shield”, has already garnered an Oscar nod in 2006 for best actor in Last King of Scotland.

Q: You have just made movie gold in The Butler, why have you said this role was intimidating?
A: I was concerned that I couldn't do it well enough. This is the most specific work I've ever done, and possibly one of the most difficult roles I've ever played. Part of that is because of the silence—I needed to convey what I was thinking and feeling without doing or saying anything. But honestly, I was grateful, because at that point I needed a challenge like this for myself as an artist. I needed to be afraid. Being afraid is good.

Q: Why don’t these stories get told more?
A: Sometimes people are afraid to look at the face of what’s going on. If you can’t accept that these things are going on, you’re living an illusion. So the question at this point is more of, how can we move the needle forward? Can we speak up? I think this film helps that in some way. It’s important for black youths, particularly, to be able to fill in the blanks of themselves so they can know completely who they are. How did we continue to grow to the place where we’re in right now? If there were no Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, would there be a Barack Obama?

Q: How did you get started in acting?
A: In high school I did some musicals, but I never took acting until college. I was studying opera, classical voice, and a speech teacher asked me to audition for this play and I got the lead. She helped me to get into a conservatory, with a scholarship as a singer, and then I was accepted into the acting conservatory. This agent saw me, the summer before I went to conservatory, and while I was in school, I started working right away. And it worked out.

Q: So you didn't pursue this as your one and only career.
A: Not at all. I was always kind of nervous that it wasn't the right thing for me. I could have done what I wanted. I had like a 3.8 average. My folks wanted me to be a doctor, but I figured it out and started to do it [acting].

Q: What was it that struck you about director of Fruitvale Station Ryan Coogler who your company helped produce the film?
A: Ryan is one of the true voices of the next decade. He has so much to offer because he understands about showing the face and the different sides of humanity. He really understands the making of film and does have his own style of storytelling. For me, it’s to be able to put a personal face on those people, in different walks, and to also not judge. To recognize that life is diverse, and that survival is the motivating force. Ryan does that.

Sep04

Glynn Washington Set For Live Show In L.A.

Glynn Washington, host and creator of hit NPR radio show Snap Judgment, is coming to L.A. for a night of “live compelling stories mixed with raw tales and killer tunes.”

“L.A has been the most supportive audience,” he said. “This is going to be the biggest show we have ever done.”

The one of a kind show, Snap Judgment Live will take place at the Nokia Theatre on October 12th at 8pm.

Since it’s launch in July 2010, Snap Judgment has become the first big public-radio hit since 2002. According to Atlantic Magazine, it can be heard on 250 stations, reaching nine of the top 10 public-radio markets and its podcast is downloaded more than half a million times a month.

“A lot of my own strength as a storyteller comes from the fact that I get bored so easily,” says Washington, who brings guests on his show to share intimate and personal details in which they made a snap decision. “I want to really push the envelope and find out new ways.”

The community activist, educator, musician, and poet refers to the Oakland-based show’s diversity as a “type of cultural anthropology.”

“We have to deal with a lot of different cultures. And there’s an aspect of our country that doesn’t just tolerate that, but they embrace it.”

A native of Michigan, the father of two was raised on a rural farm and grew up in a sect.

“It was my parents decision to join an apocalyptic cult,” he tells L.A. Focus. “You basically believe that Jesus is gonna be here any minute.”

“When Jesus does not show up—the storytelling that is necessary to keep the group together is pretty intense. I studied at the feet of masters of storytelling,” says Washington, who escaped the cult to study in Japan and then law school at the University of Michigan.

As for his future endeavors, Washington likens his show to Burger King. “We want to serve it up your way.”

He describes film, novels, creative non-fiction, and television as different mediums Snap Judgment might pursue.

“We’re excited to give people stories in the medium that they best want to digest them.”

To purchase tickets to the live show visit www.nokiatheatrelalive.com. Tickets. Or tune in to 89.3 Saturdays at 4pm and Sundays at 3pm to listen.

Sep04

Tina Turner ‘tired of singing and dancing’

During an episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter, 73-year-old legendary performer Tina Turner opened up about her recent wedding and iconic career.

Turner made headlines last month when she married her partner of more than 25 years, German music producer Erwin Bach. The lavish wedding took place at their home in Switzerland, with more than 120 guests, including Oprah.

The most shocking revelation during the interview came when Turner talked about her farewell tour in 2009, and confessed that she was “tired of singing and dancing.”

“It’s work,” Turner said. “The body had started to react on working on high blood pressure. I was taking medication, which pulled me back. I couldn’t get into that second gear to fly. I couldn’t hit my notes… I really wanted to hit those notes, and I had to fake it somehow.”

Turner did not rule out a return to the stage, but doesn’t think her fans would accept a toned down version of her routines, as she ages

“I don’t think they would accept me standing in a wonderful gown singing. That’s not me.”

­Denzel Washingtons To Lead Broadway Revival of ‘Raisin in the Sun’
The supporting cast has been set for the revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin In The Sun, starring Denzel Washington and Diahann Carroll, who is making her first Broadway appearance in 30 years.

Added to the cast are David Cromer, Tony-winner Anika Noni Rose and more.

According to Deadline.com, a  Sept. 21 on-sale date is set for tickets to the 14-week limited engagement, which opens April 3, 2014 at the Barrymore Theatre—where the original production opened in 1959, which will be 55 years ago when the revival opens.

Set on Chicago’s South Side, A Raisin In The Sun revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family.

Sep04

Tamela Mann, Tosha Cobbs Lead In GMA Nominations

Nominations for the 44th Annual Dove Awards were announced last month and Lecrae, Tamela Mann and newcomer Tosha Cobbs were among the artists who scored big.

Cobbs was nominated in five top award categories for her hit praise and worship anthem, “Break Every Chain” and her Top 5 Billboard album, Grace.  Nominations include New Artist of the Year, Gospel Performance of the Year, Contemporary Gospel/Urban Song of the Year, and Contemporary Gospel/Urban Album of the Year (Grace).

Tamela Mann also pocketed five nominations including Gospel Performance of the Year and Artist of the Year, where those she will go up against include Toby Mac and Lecrae.

Another multiple nominee, Lecrae also received nods for Rap/Hip Hop Song of the Year, Rap/Hip Hop Album.  Charles Jenkins and his Fellowship Choir garnered three nominations, including Gospel Performance of the Year for his smash hit, “Awesome”. John P. Kee, Israel Houghton, and Isaac Carree earned two nominations each.

"The Doves recognize the best of the best -- in all genres of Gospel music, celebrating talent, ministry and outstanding performances,” said Gospel Music Association Executive Director Jackie Patillo. “The excitement and energy of the Dove Awards show is something we all look forward to -- and this year will prove to be better than ever."

The awards take place on October 15 in Nashville and will be broadcast on the UP! Television Network on October 21.

Fred Hammond Makes Off Broadway Debut
Award-winning gospel recording artist Fred Hammond made his Off Broadway theatrical debut performance last month in JD Lawrence’s Cain & Able. Inspired by actual events, Cain & Able is the story of two brothers, the arrogant and tenacious Cain and the modest Able (Hammond), who are left their father’s fortune.

However, after Cain blows his half of the fortune on bad business deals, including a million dollar wedding, he sets his sights on his younger brother’s share. With time and money on short supply, Cain finds himself backed up against the wall and forced to consider drastic measures; even if it means taking his own brothers life. Hammond not only starred in the production but is credited with writing the lyrics and music, while also producing the play with Lawrence.

Speaking of Donald Lawrence, the Grammy-award winning gospel artist, songwriter and producer, the cover of Volume 1 of his new 20th Anniversary album showcases the clothing designs of Phineas Cole for Paul Stuart. This marks the first time Stuart has collaborated with a gospel artist.  Due out on September 24th, Best for Last is a celebration of Lawrence’s more than two decades of success in the music industry. Recorded live at Living Word Christian Center in Chicago, Best for Last features guest vocals from Karen Clark Sheard, Natalie Grant, Kierra Sheard, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Faith Evans, Lalah Hathaway, Coco (from SWV), Kelly Price, Bishop Hezekiah WalkerTed & Sheri and The Company on new songs and some of his biggest hits as well.

Briefly: Grammy-nominated gospel recording artist Dottie Peoples was honored by the City of Atlanta last month with the Phoenix Award, which is the highest honor an individual or group can receive from the Mayor of Atlanta, recognizing outstanding achievements and service to the city, state, nation or world. "I am thrilled to be honored by the Mayor's Office and City Council of Atlanta, and I continue thanking the Lord for His many blessings," said Dottie. "Praise In The Park is always an incredible event to be a part of, and I want to thank Radio One for their continued love and support of my music." Peoples is currently promoting her new CD, I Got This - Live!

Aug06

Back By Popular Demand: Don B. Welch’s ‘Bachelor Party’

Singer turned writer and director Don B. Welch is bringing back his acclaimed stage play The Bachelor Party to Los Angeles with a star-studded cast.

Starring Grammy nominated singer Kenny Lattimore, Young and the Restless’s Darius McCrary, Dreamgirls’ Keith Robinson as the bachelor party pals and 8-time Grammy nominated R&B artist Ledisi, leads as Lance’s son-to-be wife.

“People kept asking for it,” sais Don. B. Welch who hadn't brought ‘The Bachelor Party’ since 2009. “It’s always an audience favorite when it comes back to Los Angeles.”“And I’m excited because I’m loving this particular cast, the actors come from different areas—television, film, stage and music. It all comes together.”

In what Welch describes as one of his “favorite” productions, a harmless night of fun brings drama, laughs, and secrets to the surface. “It’s a universal story,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether you have an African American cast, a Hispanic cast, a white cast, an Asian cast, the story’s the same—it’s about a guy who decides to get married and his buddies decide to throw a bachelor party for him.”

“It is real. This is a real play,” adds Flex Alexander (Sister, Sister, Snakes on a Plane, CSI: Miami, The Hills Have Eyes 2), who plays the leading role as the bachelor, Lance. “A lot of people go to Don’s plays looking for family fun, and this play has that, but this is also real to the core.”

“If you can walk away and relate to one of the characters, we’ve done our job,” Flex says. “All of the characters have a lot of levels.”

The Bachelor Party opens at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on August 23rd. Tickets are on sale now and available through Ticketmaster.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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