*Once again, Nelson Mandela is breaking down barriers. This time it is American political barriers for the upcoming “Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom,” reports Deadline.com.
The Weinstein Company said today that former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and Colin Powell as well as 2008 GOP Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain will co-host a special screening of the Justin Chadwick-directed film at the Kennedy Center in DC.
It will take place in on Nov. 20 with Weinstein Co co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, Chadwick and co-star Naomie Harris set to attend.
This latest “Mandela” screening in DC comes the same day college students will be able to see the film for free in Georgetown as part of an 8-city tour the Weinsteins and Coke-Cola are offering across the country.
It also comes just over two weeks after a special screening of the film was held at the White House with star Idris Elba among those in attendance with President Obama and longtime supporter Weinstein.
“We truly hope that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle come out to see the film in honor of a man that both political parties in this country worked to free, and who set a global standard of putting politics aside and working with former adversaries to achieve justice and equality,” Weinstein said Friday in announcing the bipartisan screening.
Actress Phylicia Rashad attends The Public Theater’s “Love’s Labour’s Lost” Opening Nght at Delacorte Theater on August 12, 2013 in New York City
*Stage and screen star Phylicia Rashad slipped into the director’s chair on Sunday to help commemorate a historic moment that helped spur the civil rights movement.
The Tony Award-winning actress directed a reading of the play “Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963″ at the Kennedy Center Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Four girls were killed in the explosion, which was set by white supremacists and helped spur passage of landmark civil rights legislation.
Rashad, best known for her portrayal as the matriarch on “The Cosby Show,” said she wanted the reading to emphasize the “sanctity of joy, human existence and the value of all life.”
The play was written by Christina Ham and starred students from Howard University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.
Rashad, an alumna of Howard University, said acting and directing are both challenging and rewarding. In her role as director, Rashad said she works to keep the creative energy in line with the writer’s vision, “while leaving room for people to add to the vision in a collaborative effort.”
View a promo of the project below.
Hip-Hop artist Nas attends the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles
*Hip-hop artists including rappers Nas and Somalia-born K’naan will hit the Kennedy Center stage next year for the weeklong festival, “One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide.”
The center announced Tuesday that its 2014 hip-hop festival will open with Nas rapping with musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra on music from his classic debut album “Illmatic.” The festival will also feature Puerto Rican musicians Calle 13 and a graffiti exhibition.
The mix of rap, DJing and graffiti with more traditional arts at one of the nation’s busiest performing arts centers will make the year unique, Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said.
“Hip-hop is clearly something new and different for us,” Kaiser said, noting the center had also created festivals around country music and gospel, which are also less familiar in its concert halls. “I think to do something very current is important. We’re trying to speak to many different audiences.”
*We’ve been privy to very powerful, bellowing voices like Paul Robeson, James Earl Jones, and Avery Brooks to name a few.
But even of those three, we have never heard such a voice as the newcomer you are about to meet.
Soloman Howard, 31, is a Washington, D.C. native that is making his mark in the opera world. He started his journey with one of the best choirs in the world at Morgan State University and now he is performing in a revival of “Don Giovanni” at the Kennedy Center.
But, his life has not always been glitter and gold. Howard was interviewed by D.C.’s local NBC channel 4 where he explained his life on the streets of Southeast D.C. and his early, sometimes harsh, life lessons as the eldest of seven children.
Bill Cosby arrives at Penn Station in New York City. (January 18, 2012)
*During an exclusive interview Friday with the Washington Post about the Trayvon Martin Case, actor Bill Cosby, a Navy veteran, said, “We’ve got to get the gun out of the hands of people who are supposed to be on neighborhood watch.”
Martin was killed Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, who told police that a “confrontation” with the unarmed 17-year-old led him to shoot in self-defense.
“Without a gun, I don’t see Mr. Zimmerman approaching Trayvon by himself,” Cosby explained. “The power-of-the-gun mentality had him unafraid to confront someone. Even police call for backup in similar situations.
“When you carry a gun, you mean to harm somebody, kill somebody,” he said.
Cosby is scheduled to emcee at the April 12 gala celebrating the reopening of the historic Howard Theatre in Northwest Washington and will perform April 28 at the Kennedy Center.
*Tickets are available to see Smokey Robinson perform at the historic Kennedy Center in Washington next month as part of the 2012 Performance Series of Legends benefit concert for DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Founded in 1974, the high school is the only one inside the Beltway that offers pre-professional arts training and college preparation. It serves more than 500 students and has maintained a 98% graduation rate over the past 35 years.
Past artists who have participated in the Performance Series of Legends include Dave Chappelle, Denyce Graves, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind &Fire.
“These artists’ willingness to give back their time, resources and inspiration through this Performance Series provides Duke Ellington students with valuable exposure and customized artistic direction,” states Head of School/CEO Rory Pullens. “Their contributions have also provided a source of revenue that allows us to continue our important mission of providing arts education excellence to deserving students who wouldn’t otherwise have this opportunity.”
The concert will take place on Saturday, March 3 at 7:30 pm in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. General ticket sales (from $50 -$150) will be available at the Kennedy Center Box Office or at www.kennedy-center.org. VIP tickets are available for $500 at the office of the Ellington Fund. Benefit sponsorship packages are available from $2,500 to $100,000. Contact the Ellington Fund at 202-333-2555 or email@example.com for both.