blue jasmine

Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Michael Barker is pictured with “Blue Jasmine” stars Andrew Dice Clay, Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Ali Fedotowsky and Peter Sarsgaard at the “Blue Jasmine” Hollywood premiere (Photo courtesy Getty Images)

*The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with all of its elegance was the perfect place for the New York City premiere screening of Woody Allen’s new comedy-drama Blue Jasmine starring the elegant Cate Blanchett in Sony Pictures Classics release.

The always beguilingly beautiful Blanchett set the posh tone for the evening arriving in an intricate blush-tone pink embroidered Balenciaga dress with floral accents and gazar cape, which she paired with Balenciaga pumps.  She glowed from head to toe wearing sparkling jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels.  She donned a stunning pair of white gold and diamond Socrate earrings for the occasion.  She also wore an on-trend Socrate between the finger ring on her pinky finger.

Blue Jasmine, which also stars Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Kaley Cuoco, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., Tom Green, and Michael Stuhlbarg, Tammy Blanchard, Alden Ehrenreich, and Max Casella, enjoyed the best limited opening of 2013, earning an amazing $102,167 per screen from the six theaters showing the feature in New York and Los Angeles.  This was the highest box office of the year for a film opening in limited release; and Allen’s biggest opening average ever grossing $612,767.

Blue Jasmine is the story of New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) losing everything and being forced to live with her commoner sister in San Francisco and successfully jolted the upper crust crowd.  After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.  While still able to project her aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally precarious and lacks any practical ability to support herself.

She disapproves of Ginger’s boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she considers another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay).  Ginger, recognizing but not fully understanding her sister’s psychological instability, suggests that she pursue interior design, a career she correctly intuits that Jasmine won’t feel is beneath her.  In the meantime, Jasmine begrudgingly accepts work as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, where she attracts the unwanted attentions of her boss, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Blanchett is the quintessential movie star and very few actors can turn a role inside out/outside in like she does.  As Jasmine, she has to challenge her inner weakness after having to unwillingly hand in her “lavish life” cards for “hard knock” chips due to a reversal of fortune.  Baldwin and the other cast members deliver stellar performances worthy of the acclaim the movie is receiving.  No one channels Allen like he does.  His fixated directing is always transformative and long after you leave the theater you’ll scratch your head in wonderment – how did he do that?

Luminaries who joined Blue Jasmine cast members at the invitational only New York City premiere and lavish after party at Harlow included Charlie Rose, David Chase, Solange Knowles, Adrian Grenier, Zosia Mamet, Zac Posen, Martha Stewart, Al Roker & Deborah Roberts and Liz Smith.

Not to be outdone Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard, Kaley Cuoco, Andrew Dice Clay, and Tom Green were among the celebrities at the Sony Pictures Classics LA premiere of the film presented by The One Group where Sabra snacks and hummus were served to guests.  Once again, Blanchett looked stunning in a white and black designer’s ensemble.

fruitvale station cast

At “Fruitvale Station” opening night post party celebration Octavia Spencer, Ryan Coogler, Melonie Diaz, and Michael B. Jordan (Photo courtesy Wilson Morales/Black Film.com)

*Recently, the National Urban League hosted a Special Town Hall on Hip Hop Culture: Exploitation & Empowerment, as a part of its annual conference.  The centerpiece of this discussion was Fruitvale Station’s phenomenal director Ryan Coogler along with Jeff Johnson (Politics365), MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Aisha Winfield (Blues Babe Foundation), Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Lita T. Rosario, Esq., Wise Intelligent and moderator Rev. Lennox Yearwood (President, Hip Hop Caucus).

Coogler was embraced by an audience that’s mostly victimized by his account of a contemptible happening at Fruitvale Station which has shaken up race relations in America.  Fruitvale Station is a gripping real life happening that follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air.

Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter.

Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily.  His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day.  Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.

Coogler’s account of a real life story whose time has come will hopefully conjure up more dialogue and shed more light on how Black men in this country are unfairly targeted and how the unfortunate action of one trigger happy police officer stops short a fruitful life by shooting him dead.  Coming right on the heels of the Trayvon Martin case, Fruitvale Station serves as a reminder of what young Black men face every time they walk out of their homes.

Of the despair Black parents face not knowing once their child leaves home if they’ll ever return.  What happened in Fruitvale Station should never happen again.  But it did in the Martin case.  Again, one more young promising Black man gone too soon.  And the killer walks free.  Shameful!

The acclaimed cast attended the New York Premiere hosted by The Weinstein Company, BET Films and CIROC Vodka at the Museum of Moving Image (MOMA).  Joining director Coogler were actors Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Trestin George, producer Nina Yang Bongiovi, and Harvey Weinstein.  The thought-provoking film attracted A-List invitees including Motown musical director Charles Randolph-Wright, Tony Award winner Patina Miller, Malik Yoba, Omari Hardwick, Candice Bergen, rapper Fabolous, BET’s Debra Lee and Stephen Hill, Judy Marte, BeBe Winans, Bryan Terrell Clark, Bazaar Royale, Beverly Bond, Brian D’Arcy James, Julito McCullum, Vinny Chase, Kid Art, DJ MOS, and Heather B.

Already, Fruitvale Station has won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and will be a strong contender at this year’s Academy Awards.  Bravo Coogler!

forever tango (poster)*The Argentinean is back!  Luis Bravo has returned to Broadway and brought along a fiery Forever Tango dance revue for a second time to the Walter Kerr Theatre (219 West 48th Street, NYC for a limited engagement through Sunday, September 15, 2013.  The muy caliente production opened on Sunday, July 14, 2013 and ended with a hot time at a post-show party at Buca di Beppo.

Produced by Luis Bravo Productions and Jujamcyn Theaters, Forever Tango is a lifestyle, a way of life.  Created and directed by Bravo, the sexsational dance explosion entertainment Forever Tango is a must see production.  The tango has been around for ages and like an excellent wine, gets better with age.  The dance regained prominence as millions have been reintroduced to it as a preferred dance on the popular “Dancing With The Stars” show.  DWTS introduced the amazingly sensuous dance to a whole new generation of dancers.

Forever Tango is an intense story told through sixteen world-class tango dancers, one vocalist and an eleven piece orchestra that will leave you breathlessly in love with the dance.  The precision is dizzying and will have you on the edge of your seat hopelessly in love with the performances.  The lustful music and dramatic dance steps is the backdrop for a story that’s told through the flick of the leg, the tug of a hand, the tap of a foot and the arch of an eyebrow that is Forever Tango – which is as much to do about violence as it is about passion.

Led by five-time Grammy Award-winning salsa singer Gilberto Santa Rosa and Dancing with the Stars principal dancers Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskiy the performances are aphrodisiacal.  Rosa starred as the first special guest star for the first three weeks of the engagement followed by Grammy Award-winning “Prince of Salsa,” Luis Enrique who appears through August 18as the special guest vocalist.

The dynamic dancing duo Smirnoff and Chmerkovskiy have also extended their run through Sunday, August 18, 2013.  Originally scheduled to appear for three weeks only, the couple previously announced a two-week extension after their triumphant opening night.

The Orchestra added its own heat to the production and was present at all times – never leaving the stage and feverishly dancing with their instruments to each performance.  Members of the Orchestra include Victor Lavallen, Carlos Niesi, Jorge Trivisonno, Eduardo Miceli, Leonardo Ferreyra, Jose Luis Marina, Washington Williman, Hector Pineda, Maurizio Najt and Jorge Vernieri.

The dancers of Forever Tango who also get choreography creds include Florencia Blanco & Hernan Lazart, Soledad Buss & Cesar Peral, Victoria Galoto & Juan Paulo Horvath, Marcela Duran & Gaspar Godoy, David Leguizamon & Belen Bartolome, Natalia Turelli & Ariel Manzanares, Diego Ortega & Aldana Silveyra, and Sebastian Ripoll & Mariana Bojanich.

The creative team for Forever Tango features Luis Bravo (creator/director), Argemira Affonso (costume design), Rolando Obregon (sound design), Jean-Luc Don Vito (make up design).

Tickets, which range from $30.00 to $149.00 (premium seating ranges from $175 to $199 are available via telecharge.com, or by visiting the Walter Kerr Theatre box office.  Groups of 10 or more can be purchased through telecharge.com.

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via: ajbernardster@gmail.com

audrey bernard

Audrey J. Bernard