*Courtney B. Vance is set co-star in ABC’s medical drama pilot “Warriors,” inspired by the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Maryland, reports Deadline.com.
The project from writer Chris Keyser, Mandeville TV and ABC Studios follows the best and brightest active-duty military doctors and nurses as they practice trailblazing medicine.
Vance will play Navy Lt. Hennessey Fiske, an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in neurology, a resident genius who can build anything including special wheelchairs and prosthetics for the many young soldiers who come home without their limbs.
*Actor Neil Patrick Harris hosted a diversity-filled Tony Awards ceremony Sunday night that included Mike Tyson dancing in the opening number and Audra McDonald belting the chorus of closing number “Empire State of Mind,” which was altered with lyrics written during the show to reflect the evening’s highlights.
In the three hours between, Courtney B. Vance won Best Featured Actor in a Play for Lucky Guy, Billy Porter took home Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Kinky Boots, Patina Miller nabbed Best Leading Actress in a Musical for Pippin, and Cicely Tyson of The Trip to Bountiful got a standing ovation from the Radio City Music Hall audience when her name was called for Best Leading Actress in a Play.
Tyson then had folks emotional by expressing her simple gratitude for living long enough to act one more time in a great role on Broadway.
Below, read the full acceptance speeches from Vance, Porter, Miller and Tyson. Scroll down to watch highlights from the ceremony.
Courtney B. Vance, Lucky Guy, Best Featured Actor in a Play:
WHAT?! Thank you very much. I’d like to thank the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League. I’d like to thank my wife who gave me the nod, Angela Bassett, to do this role. I’d like to thank my children Broman and Slater, my Lucky Guy family, Tom Hanks, cast and crew, George C. Wolfe. I’d like to thank my manager, Steven Siebert and the Gersch Agency who pushed me real hard to come to NY to do this. And I would finally like to thank my sister, Cecile, and my mother. Mom, this one’s for you.
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots, Best Leading Actor in a Musical:
OOOOH MY GODDDD!!!! OH MY GOD! Ok, ok, so, um, I’m going to put this on the ground. Ok, so… Shakespeare said, “To thyne own self be true.” When I was 11 years old, my journey to truth began when I discovered the Tony Awards washing dishes in my kitchen, and the performance of Jennifer Holiday and the cast of Dreamgirls at the Tony Awards took my breath away. That moment changed my life. And I am here today. I want to thank my family, the best sister that a brother could ever have, Mary Martha Ford, my mother at home in Pittsburgh…. You are the personification of true Christianity, your willingness to embrace that which you don’t understand with unconditional love is a template that the world could benefit from employing. Your courage gives me life and I love you. To my Kinky Boots family. To the amazing cast and crew and everybody at the Al Hishfield Theatre. Our producers, Hal Luftig and Daryl Roth. To Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper, who created the template that allows me to express the journey of forgiveness and acceptance, and ultimately a necessary healing for my soul. To Jerry Mitchell for reaching back, lifting up an old friend and giving me a space to soar. To my co-star, Stark Sands. You are my rock, my sword, my shield, your grace gives me presence. I share this award with you. I’m gonna keep it at my house, but I share it with you. To my glam squad, who keeps Ms. Lola fierce every day, I love you. To my patrons, Susy Deans, George C. Wolfe, Tracy Brigdon, Bill Butler, my manager of 22 years, and everybody, God bless you. I love you, I love you, I love you.
Patina Miller, Pippin, Best Leading Actress in a Musical:
OHHHH God, Oh my God, this is an honor of a lifetime! This is a childhood dream come true for me. From a little southern girl in South Carolina with a big dream of wanting to come to this big city and be a part of this thing, this Broadway community and to be standing on stage in front of so many people I admire. So much in this room to the women in my category. You guys are inspiring, and I just am so in awe of all of you. I just want to say thank you to my cast. The most amazing cast in New York City right now, who knows? Um, you guys, I cannot do without you. This has been an ensemble effort and I love each and every one of you. To our amazing crew at the Music Box Theatre. To the creative team. Diane Paulus. Oh my God. You visionary. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and believing in me. Chet Walker, for giving me the gift of Fosse. Gypsy Snider for giving me the circus. To our amazing producers. Please wrap it up. The Voicelers and the Kagans and everyone else. Thank you so much. To my mom, who has been my inspiration. Thank you so much for believing in me and telling me that I could do anything I wanted to do. And to my step dad, Tim, who we almost lost a week ago. I just want you to know I love you so much and I cannot wait to be with you tomorrow and I know you can’t see me, but I know you can hear me right now, and I just want you to know I love you. And finally, to my management, Jeremy Kats, Chris Highland, my vocal coach, Liz Caplan. But most of all, my honey, my fiance who I love so much. I cannot wait to marry you and you have made me the happiest girl in the world. Thank you to the American Theatre Wing. Oh My God!
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful, Best Leading Actress in a Play:
Thou are the potter, I’m only the clay. When I think of the moment where I stand before, this moment, I cannot help but remember all of the thumbprints that have touched this being during the course of her career. My mother and father, my sister and brother, none of whom are here with me. I’m the sole surviving member of my immediate family and I’ve asked over and over again, why? I now know why. It’s been 30 years since I stood on this stage. I really didn’t think it would happen again in my lifetime and I was pretty comfortable with that. Except that I had this burning desire for just one more. One more great role, I said, I didn’t want to be greedy. I just wanted one more. And it came to me through no effort on my part. Ben Ramsey, Hallie Foote, Michael, Bill Haber and the entire Haber family who have nurtured me for the last 40 years, M.J. who has paid the greatest price for my success. The American Theatre Wing for welcoming me home. Please wrap it up, it says. Well that’s exactly what you did with me. You wrapped me up in your arms after 30 years. Now I can go home with a Tony. God Bless you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. [Watch below.]
Below, musical highlights from the show, beginning with the closing number – which recapped the entire night to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.”
*Warner Bros.’ Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Diego Boneta, Malin Akerman, Mary J Blige and Paul Giamatti is rocking awesome. From the beginning to the end it is nothing but a party woven with that age old story boy-meets-girl – while they’re searching for fame. Adapted from the Chris D’Arienzo Broadway musical of the same name, Rock of Ages is directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”), and arrives in theaters and IMAX June 15, 2012.
Justin Theroux, D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb are screenwriters on the film based on D’Arienzo’s Rock of Ages musical. The film centers round the boy-meets-girl romance of Sherry (Hough), a small town girl and Drew (Boneta), a city boy both pursuing their Hollywood dream. Another romance is between the superstar “rocker” Stacee Jaxx (Cruise) who suddenly sees through his drunken haze, of adoring beautiful women, to see the love of a head-strong journalist Constance Sack (Akerman).
“We had a couple weeks to figure out how to do a love scene on a hockey table and make it fun,” said Malin Akerman. “The tongue in the ear wasn’t in the script I did that (to Tom). We just kept laughing. I was really excited because I got to act with Tom Cruise. He has powerful vocals, he even broke a mic.”
Rock of Ages include hits from some of the best rock bands in the 80’s – Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon, and Twisted Sister – which are performed in the film by an outstanding cast. Tom Cruise vocals were so impressive it made me wonder, at first, if it was really him singing, but according to the director it was him. Even Alec Baldwin had his turn at working his vocals.
Multi-platinum selling, nine-time Grammy Award winning Mary J Blige did an excellent job with her acting in Rock of Ages as Justice, the owner of a strip club. Catherine Zeta-Jones blew me away with her dancing and singing skills in several scenes in the film.
“I visited strip clubs with my husband,” Mary J Blige said about her preparation for the role and when asked about her experience on set of Rock the Ages Mary said. “It was the best times in my life and career… Tom Cruise came to the table read dressed as Stacee Jaxx!”
D’Arienzo and Skankman serve as co-executive producers on the New Lines Cinema presentation, Corner Store Entertainment production, in association with Material Pictures, Offspring Entertainment, Adam Shankman film. Rated PG-13 Rock of Ages arrives in theaters and IMAX June 15, 2012. Log onto Rock of Ages website for more information on the film or the cast log at www.RockofAgesMovie.com.
Russ Parr’s The Undershepherd receives ABFF nomination, winners announces in Miami June 20-23, 2012
*“The 16th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) will announce the Narrative Features and Grand Jury award winners June 20-23, 2012 in South Beach Miami. Isaiah Washington, Common, S. Epatha Merkerson, Kimberly Elise and Malinda Williams are among the list of nominees for the Grand Jury award.
This years’ Grand Jury President is actor Mekhi Phifer who will be at the closing day festival to present the awards. The Narrative Feature film nominees are Better Mus’ Come, about the political warring in the 1970s in Jamaica; The Dark Party, is about two best friends going on a blind date party; The Last Fall, about a NFL journeyman dealing with the end of his career; Luv, is about an orphaned boy facing the truth about a relative; Elza, is about a woman going home to meet a father she has never met, and The Undershepherd, about two ministers opposing views effecting a community.
“One of the reasons I wanted to do the film I can relate with the character,” said Malinda Williams, who stars in The Undershepherd with Isaiah Washington, Louis Gossett Jr., Vannesa Bell Calloway, Elise Neal, Clifton Powell, Keith David, Robinne Lee and John Wesley. “She was a woman trying to keep up appearances of being the first lady of a powerful ministry.”
Established in 1997 the ABFF’s core mission is to promote cultural diversity with the motion picture industry through its film showcases and special contest.
For more information on the nominees of the ABFF log onto www.ABFF.com.
Disney Channel’s Original Film Let It Shine is bursting with talent, premiers June 15, 2012
*“I’m an actor to the very core of me,” said Tyler James Williams (“Everybody Hates Chris”) about his starring role as Cyrus DeBarge in the Disney Channel Original Movie Let It Shine, which premiers June 15, 2012 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. He adds, “I do music on the side line to keep creative.”
Let It Shine is about a preachers’ son, Cyrus, who is a gifted rapper who is full of self-doubt and a father set against Hip-Hop music. Let It Shine also stars Coco Jones as Pop star Roxanne Andrews; Courtney B. Vance as Pastor Jacob DeBarge, father of Cyrus; Dawnn Lewis as Gail DeBarge – Cyrus mother; Trevor Jackson as Kris McDuffy a dancer and best friend to Cyrus; Brandon M. Smith as rapper Lord of Da Bling – a ‘hater’ of Cyrus; Alex Desert as Levit – Cyrus employer; and Algee Smith as rapper Da Boss.
“We have this rap battle going on… its high energy,” said Algee about his role in the movie. “It was fun!”
Fun is just what you will get if you watch the Disney Channel Original Movie and many great messages for adult as well as young adult. The music will leave you wondering whether the actor’s weren’t really actual rappers, singers and dancers.
“I’m an actor, rapping,” Algee informed me.
What a good actor they are all then. Let It Shine doesn’t disappoint those looking for a little drama.
At the movie premiere in Los Angeles many Disney Channel actors came out in support of the Let It Shine premiere, such as the casts of “A.N.T. Farm,” “Dog With A Blog,” Good Luck Charlie,” “Jessie,” “Kickin’ It,” “Lab Rats,” “Pair of Kings,” “Shake It Up,” and “Sofia The First.”
Disney Channel’s Original Movie, Let It Shine, will premier Friday, June 15th 8 p.m. ET/PT. Find out more about Let It Shine at www.disney.com.
(Eunice Moseley is a syndicated entertainment columnist, www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com. NEWS: Attend the “Uplifting Minds II” entertainment conference Sat., June 23rd 12 – 5pm at the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, CA. – admission is free! www.UpliftingMinds2.com)
*Actress Dawnn Lewis, perhaps best known as the college coed Julissa on “A Different World,” has been quietly keeping busy with voice over work in multiple television roles. But next month, viewers will get to see her on screen in the Disney Channel movie “Let it Shine.”
The gospel-themed musical stars Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) as a shy, talented musician who writes romantic rap verses for the girl of his dreams, only to see his best friend deliver them to her – and reap the benefits.
“It’s a modern day spin on the Cyrano de Bergerac story,” says Dawn, who plays the boy’s mother. She’s also the first lady of a small Baptist church in Atlanta pastored by Courtney B. Vance. Their son, named Cyrus DeBarge, is also the church’s Minister of Music, which, in his parents’ eyes, does not jibe with his love of hip hop.
“We turn our praise team over to him and he comes back into church with the praise and worship team singing and dancing, breakdancing and doing hip hop praise music in the sanctuary,” Lewis tells EURweb with a laugh. “We’re not quite sure how to deal with that. It’s a little harder for my husband than it is for me.”
Lewis, who handled the theme song for “A Different World” for several seasons, says some of the filmmakers had no idea she could sing when they asked her one day on set. Listen below.
“Let it Shine” premieres June 15 at 8 p.m. on the Disney Channel. Watch the trailer below.
*Just like the headline says, this page/board is where you can discuss the stuff that we didn’t cover in today’s issue. (It’s sort of like feedback with a twist) Remember, NO name calling, racial taunting, graphic sex talk and vulgarity in general, PLEASE.
EUR MOTIVATIONAL NOTE
“A primary purpose for setting goals is to get you moving in the right direction. When you set goals, you have to keep them always in mind.” – Stedman Graham, You Can Make It Happen Every Day
March 12: Singer Al Jarreau is 72. Singer Marlon Jackson of The Jacksons is 55. Actor Courtney B. Vance is 52.
Mar. 12, 1791: Benjamin Banneker and Pierre Charles L’Enfant are commissioned to lay out the District of Columbia. (Source: www.BlackFacts.com)