*Survival in the rawest sense is what I thought about the sport of boxing when I use to go while in the Navy, but with The Weinstein Company presentation of “Southpaw,” starring Academy Award nominated Jake Gyllenhaal as Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World Billy Hope; you see a powerful story about overcoming life’s struggles. Southpaw makes the dangers of boxing a side effect to surviving something rawer – life. Southpaw is a Sports/Drama Rated R that arrives in theaters July 24, 2015.
The Southpaw story-line follows rags to riches boxer Billy Hope and his sexy and protective wife Mo, played by MTV Movie Award winner Rachel McAdams (Sherlock Holmes), as they struggle with the high stakes decisions of a boxer in a cut-throat business. The environment that that life brings resulted in the death of his wife and subsequently custody of his daughter, played by Oona Laurence.
Thirteen-time Billboard winner Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson plays Billy Hope’s savvy manager Jordan Mains. Hope discovers his manager is only in it for the money after his wife dies, but he happens to be the only way to a come-back fight to gain back his title that he dramatically loses.
Homeless and on the street Hope’s only option to get back custody of his daughter is a steady job and winning that one last high-stakes fight to win his title back. He enlisted the help of a retired fighter/trainer Tick Willis played by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker (Take 3), who unlike other trainers used patience and creativity to teach him defensive moves as well as offensive techniques. The result was just as powerful as the storyline.
Starring also with Gyllenhaal (End of Watch) is Naomie Harris (Skyfall) as social worker Angela Rivera, Victor Ortiz (former WBC Welterweight Champion), Grammy nominated singer/actor Tyrese Gibson (Transformers, The Fast and the Furious), singer/actress Rita Ora (Fast & Furious 6), and Miguel Gomez. Southpaw is written by Kurt Sutter, with Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Jerry Ye, Alum Riche, Peter Riche and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) as producers. Fuqua also directs.
NAACP Image Award winner Robert Townsend’s romantic comedy youth project, ‘Playin’ for Love,’ re-airs on UP tv July 24, August 1 and 24, 2015
*“God uses all of us,” said Robert Townsend, NAACP Image Award winning actor and film director/screenwriter, about his mentoring movie production project, “Playin’ for Love,” which ended in an Up television network movie presentation starring Townsend (The Five Heartbeats) and Sallie Richardson-Whitfield (“Being Mary Jane”). “I said ok, I can give hope.”
That is what Robert did for 20 kids by taking on a request from Miami Commissioner, Michelle Spence-Jones. He taught 20 kids how to make a movie worthy of a national television premiere. Townsend reached out and received financial help from Isiah Thomas (NBA) and the American Federation of Teacher’s, and Jamba Juice gave over 20,000 free smoothies and breakfast during the production. Dwyane Wade (NBA) donated 500 pairs of sneakers to the cast and volunteers.
“The whole community got together,” Robert pointed out. “We were doing it for two cents. The America Federation of Teachers gave money because there is an educational message in the film. I really love kids and I know kids right now, especially of color, who are under attack and want to do something. I’m from Chicago and I think how blessed I am.”
“Playin’ for Love” is a romantic comedy that follows basketball coach Niven Banks (Townsend) who is stuck on his way of doing things, when his star player’s mother (Richardson-Whitfield) cuts in with her two-cent strategy. Her two-cent strategy happened to be on the money because it so happens she knows a thing or two about basketball.
“’Playin’ for Love’ is an ode’ to Claudine. I wanted to do a modern day version. I thought it would be cool to have him do a cameo,” he said about casting Lawrence Hilton-Jacob star of the original Claudine movie. The cast also includes Jenifer Lewis (“Black-ish”), Esai Morales (“Criminal Minds”) and Hilton-Jacobs (The Jacksons: An American Dream, Claudine). “Sallie is a wonderful actress. Jenifer I’ve work with five times…but it’s really about the kids.”
“Once the movie was done my goal was…manage our expectations. It’s more about the experience,” Robert pointed out. When I asked how the movie received a national premiere on UP he said, “I had a friend at UP tv. They said, ‘Robert it’s you. We are about uplifting and it’s uplifting.”
Townsend, a Chicago native, is a comedian, actor, and film director and writer. He is most noted for his roles in Cooley High, Meteor Man (also directed and wrote), Soldier’s Story, The Mighty Quinn, The Five Heartbeats (also co-wrote) and “The Parent ‘Hood.” He created the Robert Townsend Foundation specifically to help unsigned film makers.
“Playin’ for Love” premiered on the UP television network July 12th and re-airs Friday July 24th at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., Saturday August 1st at 9 p.m. and 1 a.m., and Saturday August 29th at 11:30 p.m. The UP network is dedicated to providing “feel good” television content to its 70 million cable and satellite subscribers. UP television is a division of UP Entertainment which also operates faith-friendly streaming to ASPiRE network.
(Syndicated Columnist: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates, and is Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. EVENT: Sat October 24, 2015 the “Uplifting Minds II” Free Entertainment Conference at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, CA host by KDAY 93.5FM. EVENT: Sat April 16, 2016 the “Uplifting Minds II” Free Entertainment Conference arrives in Baltimore at Security Square Mall. www.UpliftingMinds2.com.)