Wow, society has really changed with the emergence of social media and smart phones.
Theaters are now offering phone addicted social networkers special seating during film showings.
Typically, a few annoying ads about turning off cell phones before the movie begins run as part of the preview reel; but that may not be necessary anymore.
The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minn. is establishing a trend for obsessive phone/Twitter users and giving them a section of their own called, “tweet seats.”
And to make sure other patrons can enjoy the movie without the awful glow of someone’s cell phone disrupting their experience, the others have a whole balcony set aside just for them.
A few other theaters have also adopted the trend – The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Palm Beach Opera in Florida and the Public Theater in New York have all reportedly experimented with special sections for visitors who can’t keep off their phones.
*Writer and director Noel Calloway comes from the stereotypical single parent home.
Born and raised in Harlem with an absentee father, Calloway landed in foster care when both parents were incarcerated.
Despite a difficult childhood, Calloway chose the books, and finished high school at the Frederick Douglass Academy and headed South to study film at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta.
Single parent homes aren’t so uncommon across the nation. Years of research and life experience have shown that the lack of a father figure in the household has a tremendous impact on Black boys (and girls). From a struggling single mother to a path to the streets, boys are frequently forced to make serious life choices at a young age. The U.S. Census Bureau says 24 million children in America are living without the presence of their biological father.
Calloway, who can testify to the challenges of a difficult childhood, uses his own life story to capture a national epidemic in his debut film, “Life, Love, Soul.”
He tells the story of a young man estranged from his father who is forced to re-connect when tragedy strikes home. As the emotional tale unfolds, “Life, Love, Soul” tugs at feelings of abandonment, resentment, and loss in a story of a son left behind.
The film has been tapped as the opener for the first annual Fatherhood Image Film Festival on August 8 at 8 p.m. at the MIST Harlem Theatre, located at 46 W. 116th Street in Harlem, New York.
The four-day festival will focus on the state of fatherhood, beginning with the images portrayed in the media.
“Life, Love, Soul” will be released on DVD Aug. 27, 2013 and will be available on In Demand as well as iTunes.
It’s never been a better time for a film like this, given the plight of Black America.
“Life, Love, Soul” enters the conversation with an ensemble cast, including Chad Coleman (“The Walking Dead” and “The Wire”), Jamie Hector ( “Night Catches Us” and “The Wire”), Terri J Vaughn (“Meet The Browns”), Tami Roman (“Basketball Wives”), plus Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson (of musical duo Ashford and Simpson) in her acting debut and newcomer Robbie Tate-Brickle.
2013 Tony Awards: Host Neil Patrick Harris and Mike Tyson perform in the opening number at Radio City Music Hall in New York City (June 9, 2013)
*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.
2013 Tony Award winners actors Courtney Vance and Cicely Tyson attends the 2013 Tony Awards – Gala at The Plaza Hotel on June 9, 2013 in New York City
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 accepts the Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his role in “Kinky Boots” at The 67th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2013 in New York City
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.
Cicely Tyson, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for ‘The Trip to Bountiful’, (L) and Patina Miller, winner of the award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for ‘Pippin’, attend The 67th Annual Tony Awards green room at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, 2013 in New York City
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.”
*The new Broadway production of Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, featuring Emmy-winning stage and screen star Cicely Tyson, has extended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre.
The production, which officially opened April 23, had been scheduled for a 14-week limited engagement through July 7. It has now extended an additional eight weeks and will continue through Sept. 1.
Bountiful was recently nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Play (Tyson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Condola Rashad), Best Sound Design for a Play (John Gromada) and Best Revival of a Play.
The cast also includes Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (“Jerry Maguire,” “Red Tails”), Emmy Award nominee Vanessa Williams (“Ugly Betty,” “Desperate Housewives”), Rashad (Lifetime’s “Steel Magnolias,” Broadway’s Stick Fly), Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner.
*“My sister and I ran across my mother and my fathers’ journals and the things we read, we were like, ‘whoa, these are things we didn’t know,’” Zeola Gaye tells EURweb publisher Lee Bailey, as we continue with Part 2 of the illuminating interview.
As the new stage play, “My Brother Marvin,” continues its trek around the country, Zeola admits it was after finding these journals that the decision was made as to the direction that the play would take. They were not going to hold anything back! The journals explain a lot about their parents; details that, according to Zeola, can have a great impact on future generations of their family.
Zeola had no idea that her parents even kept journals, and she found her mother’s childhood particularly shocking, but chose to focus more on the history of Marvin Gay, Sr. in the play, because he is the one who pulled the trigger. She shares how sad it made her father in later years to learn how people felt about him.
“He even said it in one of his letters on one of the pages, ‘I’m not a monster. I just raised my children the best way I could.’”
Mr. Gay is said to have kept journals all the way up until—and even after–the shooting; even when he was living at the residential facility. His family recalls he was always writing.
At this writing, My Brother, MARVIN is in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., nearing the end of a 5-day run at the historic WarnerTheatre. In part 1, Zeola gushed about the star-studded cast her team was able to bring together; including Lynn Whitfield, Clifton Powell, and singer, Keith Washington. In the audio clip below, she tells Bailey why Lynn Whitfield was chosen for the role of Alberta Gay, Marvin’s mother.
According to Zeola, when the play was originally produced 5 years ago, there was music and audiences loved it. But even then people voiced they really wanted to know more of the back story. Incidentally, and we don’t have a lot of details here, but we assume the music – perhaps not properly acquired – is why the original production was shut down? Now, with this new “revamped” version, written by the same woman who penned the original script, Angela Barrow-Dunlap, the audience gets their wish for more ‘back story;’ but no original Marvin Gaye music in a play about the life of Marvin Gaye, is a high price to pay. This version aims to show audiences what made Marvin, well…Marvin. It’s as if they are saying, you know the songs. You’ve heard the lyrics. Hell, by now you can put your mind in ‘recall mode’ and damn near hear the music. We say, if the women in his life want to open the curtain and show us where the content came from, let ‘em. Zeola admits its a tough pill to swallow. All of it ain’t pretty. But her big brother, Marvin, was no saint. This brings us back to the puzzlement of why Marvin’s ex-wife, Janis Gaye, who we don’t think it would be a stretch to assume, has not even seen the play, but is pulling a Spike Lee. Below, she provides commentary about the play on FaceBook.
“I’m baffled…,” Zeola claims, when asked what she thinks Janis will share with audiences in the film she, at one time, was said to be developing. “…what is she bringing to the film except a story about Marvin and her relationship where she cheated on him?” she continues. “I mean, I’m sure they might have had some happy times like I wrote in the book but, what else? She don’t know the ending [sic]. She was not there, you know. She wasn’t there for the last 6-months of his life. What are they bringing to the screen in this film, I have no idea.”
Bailey adds that audiences already know the story, but not the details, as he continues to push in an attempt to identify the exact problem Janis Gaye has with Marvin’s sister and fellow performer (she did background on some records and toured with him as an assistant) writing a play about life with her brother. Then he asks,
“What do you think it is that Jan does not want to come out?”
“The truth,” says Zeola, who mentions that she continues to receive threatening messages and tweets from Jan and Marvin III. Two of which she shares with EURweb below:
If you recall in part 1, Janis claims she and Marvin’s children have nothing to do with denying the play the use of Marvin’s music. Yet The Washington Post writes, “A spokesman for Sony/ATV Music Publishing confirmed that ‘the songs had not been licensed to be used in this play.’ Gaye’s estate, which is controlled by his children, makes decisions on how his music is used.”
When its all said and done, as sad as family dissention is, especially when it comes to our deceased celebrities, these issues may all just boil down to the very human emotion: jealousy. Who did what first, and what kind of attention they are getting because of it.
“Lee, I think it might be our long history, me being Marvin’s sister,” Zeola states. “She hated…the fact that he liked it so much.”
NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: Following the EURweb publishing of part 1, we received a call from Janis Gaye, who had problems with our story. In all fairness, we invited her to speak with us about her concerns, in an attempt to set the record straight. She accepted the invitation, but when the time came she said, ”I’ve changed my mind.”