Tag Archives: Hollywood

Legendary Singer and Activist Lena Horne Dies at 92

Posted by: TheLCster

AP~Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress known for her plaintive, signature song “Stormy Weather” and for her triumph over the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, has died. She was 92.

Horne died Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin, who would not release details.

“Her timeless legacy will forever be celebrated as part of the fabric of American popular music, and our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and fans worldwide as we all mourn the loss of one of music’s signature voices,” Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said Monday in a statement.

Horne, whose striking beauty often overshadowed her talent and artistry, was remarkably candid about the underlying reason for her success: “I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept,” she once said. “I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.”

“I knew her from the time I was born, and whenever I needed anything she was there. She was funny, sophisticated and truly one of a kind. We lost an original. Thank you Lena,” Liza Minnelli said Monday. Her father, director Vincente Minnelli, brought Horne to Hollywood to star in “Cabin in the Sky,” in 1943.

In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, to play the Copacabana nightclub in New York City and when she signed with MGM, she was among a handful of black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.

In 1943, MGM Studios loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her most famous tune.

Horne had an impressive musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in such songs as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” In 1942’s “Panama Hattie,” her first movie with MGM, she sang Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” winning critical acclaim.

In her first big Broadway success, as the star of “Jamaica” in 1957, reviewer Richard Watts Jr. called her “one of the incomparable performers of our time.” Songwriter Buddy de Sylva dubbed her “the best female singer of songs.”

“It’s just a great loss,” said Janet Jackson Monday. “She brought much joy into everyone’s lives – even the younger generations, younger than myself. She was such a great talent. She opened up such doors for artists like myself.”

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Statement by President Obama and First Lady Michelle on the Passing of Lena Horne

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena , and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.”

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A Star Is Born

Written by: BlueDog89


One of the brightest stars to appear on the Hollywood scene in 1929 was a golden knight gripping his mighty sword while standing atop a reel of film with five spokes. His greatest role has been to honor outstanding achievements in filmmaking. His name is Oscar®.

For one of the most recognized trophies the world over, the statuette’s dimensions are not nearly as imposing as the overwhelming emotions experienced by the individuals honored by a nomination or receiving the award itself. Oscar® is a mere 13 ½” and weighing 8 ½ lbs., standing regally atop a base of a film reel. The five spokes displayed on the black base represent the original branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences®: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.

Cedric Gibbons and Dolores del Rio

Cedric Gibbons and Dolores del Rio

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief art director Cedric Gibbons was responsible for the design of the trophy. Gibbons’ wife, actress Delores del Rio, introduced him to Mexican film director Emilio “El Indio” Fernandez to pose for the original sketches. Sculptor George Stanley, renowned for designing the Muse Fountain at the Hollywood Bowl, sculpted Gibbons’ sketches and Sachin Smith cast the statuette in 92.5% tin and 7.5% copper and then gold-plated it. The only addition to Oscar since its original design was a minor streamlining of the base.

The original award presented at early ceremonies was gold-plated solid bronze. The statuette’s material changed over the years, such as during World War II, when there was a metal shortage, and the Oscars® were made of painted plaster. Once the war was over, wartime recipients were allowed to redeem their plaster figurines for gold-plated metal figures. Today Oscar® is constructed of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base rendered in an Art Deco style.

The Academy® initially named the statuette the Academy Award of Merit®, however Oscar® is what it’s most known for. Many rumors surround how the nickname of Oscar came about. One of the most well known is that of Bette Davis saying that the award resembled her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson. Davis supposedly mentioned the term Oscar® when she received her Best Actress award for Dangerous in 1935. Walt Disney was rumored to use the moniker in 1932, and Time magazine made mention of Oscar® in 1934. The Authorized Version from the Academy® is based on a popular story about an Academy® librarian who remarked that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar. The Academy® officially adopted the nickname in 1939. However the name came about, it stuck. And many people today often refer to the award ceremony as The Oscars®.

From left to right: Douglas Fairbanks Sr., D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Charles Chaplin, around the time they founded United Artists in 1919

From left to right: Douglas Fairbanks Sr., D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford, and Charles Chaplin, around the time they founded United Artists in 1919

The first Academy Awards®, hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and screenwriter/director from the silent film era William C. DeMille, were presented on May 16, 1929, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and lasted a mere 15 minutes. This was the only Academy Award® ceremony not to be broadcast either on radio or television. This was also the first and only year that the Academy® recognized two best pictures and the only time that winners were recognized for more than one movie. It was also the only time a silent movie reached best picture status.

Wings, Best Picture winner 1927

Wings, Best Picture winner 1927

Films that had been released between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928 were eligible for awards. Unlike later ceremonies, awards could be granted to an actor or director for multiple works within a year. The movie Wings, which starred the popular silent film star Clara Bow, won Best Picture, while Emil Jannings won Best Actor for two separate roles and Janet Gaynor won Best Actress for three separate roles. There were two Best Director Awards, Lewis Milestone won for Best Comedy and Frank Borzage won for Best Dramatic Picture.

Two special awards were also presented that night. One to Warner Brothers for producing The Jazz Singer and one to Charlie Chaplin for writing, acting, directing and producing The Circus.

Yet today, no matter what you call the glam evening of a 1,000 stars or the gleaming knight holding a crusader’s sword, it all represents the best in Motion Picture achievement. Only now The Oscars® come complete with bright lights, designer dresses, and the all-important red carpet.

It may be a little different from what the early founders of the Academy® had in mind; but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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R&B Legend Charlie Wilson Fills the Gaps in His Life’s Winding Road

Posted by: Audiegrl

Charlie Wilson

Full circle: Charlie Wilson shows the alley he slept in as a homeless person after his Gap Band days in Hollywood. Wilson has renewed his life and career.

USA Today“This building wasn’t here,” Charlie Wilson says, waving at a high-rise condo under construction along busy La Brea Avenue. “It was a parking lot for U-Hauls. I slept under them when it rained. So did a lot of other crackheads.”

He brushes a tear from his cheek. Revisiting the haunts of his darkest days is distressing for the R&B legend, who led the Gap Band to international stardom in the ’80s and rebounded to solo glory in recent years. In between lies a desperate stretch of addiction and homelessness that took the singer from a posh Hollywood Hills manse to seedy alleys.

Strolling a narrow road behind a pawn shop, he points to the grassy spot he frequently staked out while living on the streets from 1993 to 1995.

“I slept in that deep corner there,” he says. “When I come through this area now, I get all tensed up. A lot of people who sink that far into depression, drugs and street life don’t come back. A lot of people I knew then are dead.”

Robert, Charlie, and Ronnie in 1982

Robert, Charlie, and Ronnie in 1982

Wilson, who turns 57 on Friday, did more than survive. He just had the most successful year of his 43-year career. The singer is up for two Grammys: R&B album for fourth solo effort Uncle Charlie and R&B vocal for hit single There Goes My Baby, which spent 10 weeks atop Billboard’s adult R&B chart. The album entered the R&B chart at No. 1 and the pop chart at No. 2, a career peak. He’s also nominated for an NAACP Image Award.

Nobody is more astonished by this resurrection than Wilson, who returns to the mileposts of his downfall with humility and gratitude. He starts a walking tour at the former location of the Total Experience studio, where the Gap Band, his trio with brothers Robert and Ronnie, recorded from the mid-’70s to the late ’80s, generating a string of platinum albums and such hits as You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Party Train, Outstanding, Burn Rubber on Me and Shake.
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Read the full story here

Charlie Wilson talks to USA Today about his past struggles with drugs, his time spent living on the streets of L.A., and his comeback as a Grammy nominated singer.

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George Lopez Interviews Charlie Wilson on Lopez Tonight

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Charlie Wilson Performs His Grammy Nominated Song, “There Goes My Baby” on Lopez Tonight

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10 Semi-Finalists Named in Academy/MTVU “Oscar® Correspondent Contest

Posted by: Audiegrl

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network, announced ten teams of college journalists as semifinalists in the 2010 Oscar Correspondent Contest, each vying for a coveted position on the red carpet at the 82nd Academy Awards in Hollywood. Video entries from the semifinalist teams are posted online at www.oscars.mtvU.com, where students and other viewers can vote for their favorite college journalists until February 10 at 2 p.m. PT.

The semifinalists are (listed in alphabetical order by university):

Chapman University, Orange, CA – Rachel Berry (anchor) and Christian Hartnett (videographer)
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Emerson College, Boston, MA – Terry Stackhouse (anchor) and Zach Cusson (videographer)
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Emerson College – Dean Dimitruk (anchor) and Tyler Weinberger (videographer)
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Florida A&M University, Tallahassee – Brandon McCaskill (anchor) and Kiarra Hart (videographer)
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Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro – Nicki DeCroce (anchor) and Tony Holt (videographer)
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Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ – Kelly Dixon (anchor) and Gina Grosso (videographer)
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Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY – Eeshé White (anchor) and Patrick House (videographer)
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Texas State University-San Marcos – Amanda Dugan (anchor) and Colby Howell (videographer)
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University of South Dakota, Vermillion – Angie Lacompte (anchor) and Travis Berg (videographer)
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University of Texas at Austin – Loren Grush (anchor) and Xorje Olivares (videographer)
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On February 12, the three teams with the most online votes, and as agreed upon by the Academy and mtvU, will advance to the final round of competition. From February 16 to March 2, fans can continue to cast their votes for the teams of finalists as they compete for grand prize. All three teams will be flown to Los Angeles to cover Academy Awards pre-events, including the Animated Feature Symposium, Foreign Language Film Award media op, the Makeup Artist and Hairstylist Symposium and the Governors Ball preview.


The grand prize-winning team will be revealed on Saturday, March 6, at an Academy press conference. The anchor and videographer will be awarded a spot on the red carpet for the 82nd Academy Awards arrivals, as well as credentials for access to backstage press rooms. The winning team’s coverage will be aired on MTV News and mtvU. The two finalist teams will receive bleacher seats along the red carpet and admission to an Oscar viewing party.

The ten semifinalist teams were selected by the Academy and mtvU from videos submitted for the competition. The entries were judged based on criteria including originality, creativity, and how compelling the video was overall. The competition was open to teams of two college students, one anchor and one videographer, residing in the United States.

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For a complete list of rules and regulations for the Oscar Correspondent Contest, visit www.oscars.mtvu.com

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Wyclef Jean Joins George Clooney To Lead MTV’s ‘Hope For Haiti Now’ Telethon

Two-hour global telethon will air Friday, January 22

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean

Wyclef Jean will join George Clooney and CNN’s Anderson Cooper in hosting MTV Networks’ “Hope for Haiti Now,” the global two hour telethon to air commercial-free across ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, BET, The CW, HBO, MTV, VH1, and CMT plus CNN International, National Geographic and MTV on Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Hope for Haiti Now” will feature performances and celebrity appearances to be announced in the coming days, as well as live news reports from CNN. Clooney will host from Los Angeles, Wyclef Jean will be in New York and Anderson Cooper will be live from the devastation, with the Hollywood actor lining up a who’s who of guests to drop by and perform on the night.

All proceeds will be split evenly among five relief organizations who are on the ground helping the people of Haiti: Oxfam America, Partners in Health, the Red Cross, UNICEF and Yele Haiti Foundation. Both Facebook and MySpace have signed on as official social-media partners to help steer viewers to the telethon and drive donations.

Celebrities across the fame spectrum have harnessed social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to rally support for the Haitian people, announcing their personal donations or directing their fans to contribute to deserving aid groups.

Yele Haiti FoundationHaitian-born musician Wyclef Jean has become the unofficial face of this celebrity humanitarian movement. More than $1 million has flooded in to Jean’s Yéle Haiti since Tuesday, according the charity’s fund-raising organizers. The Hollywood Foreign Press announced it would donate $100,000 to Yéle, while figures such as Lindsay Lohan, MC Hammer, and Haitian-born soccer star Jozy Altidor have tweeted their support for Jean’s cause.

Producing the telethon will be Joel Gallen, who produced the 9/11 telethon “America: A Tribute to Heroes” that aired 10 days after that tragedy.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that several other celebrities are using their social clout and talent to direct attention to Haiti.

  • Lance ArmstrongCyclist Lance Armstrong announced to his 2.3 million Twitter followers that his Livestrong foundation had pledged $250,000 to two humanitarian aid groups.
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  • Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Actors-turned-philanthropists Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have donated $1 million to the Doctors Without Borders organization; Oprah began her talk show Wednesday by asking viewers to contribute to the Red Cross; Coldplay front man Chris Martin is urging his fans to donate to Haiti via Oxfam; and even Paris Hilton promoted the efforts of the Red Cross via Twitter.
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  • David BlaineMeanwhile, magician David Blaine is taking a slightly more hands-on approach. At 9 a.m. Friday, Blaine started what will be a 72-hour, nonstop “Magic Marathon” in Times Square. Benefits of the event and all proceeds from his online store will be given to the Red Cross.
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  • RihannaBut George Clooney isn’t the only celeb tapping his golden connections. East Coast nightlife guru Unik Ernest, whose Edeyo Foundation supports community-building projects in Haiti, has begun organizing a telethon and benefit concert. While the date of the event is yet to be released, celebrities said to be featured include: Rihanna, Usher, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Mark Wahlberg, Jay-Z, Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and others, according to Tonic.com.

Celebrity support of the Haitian people has contributed to the success of this week’s aid efforts. The American Red Cross reported Wednesday evening that in the 48 hours following the quake some $35 million in donations had poured in – more than it had received in the two days following Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamis.

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Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Project

Posted by: Audiegrl

It was Gertrude Stein who once said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” The same has often been said of Hollywood (both the place and the industry). There is no single place a visitor can go to get a real sense of its essence. The purpose of a museum dedicated to the filmmaking arts and sciences would be to put a “there” in Hollywood. To illuminate something of what we do and how we do it. Something of the sweat and something of the inspiration; something of the practical and something of the magic; to capitalize on the national and international love of filmed entertainment and promote an appreciation of, knowledge of, and respect for our work.

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen analyze a sculpture on display at MOMA in Manhattan (1979)

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen analyze a sculpture on display at MOMA in Manhattan (1979)

Our mission is to create a place to celebrate and explore how film has reflected and shaped world culture, and to help us all better understand what the movies have meant – and continue to mean – in our lives. Thirteen locations across Los Angeles were carefully assessed as potential sites on which to build our new institution. Ultimately, the Museum Committee felt that the museum was meant to live in Holly­wood, a neighborhood synonymous with the film industry. The chosen site, adjacent to the Academy’s existing Pickford Center, allows for the creation of a sunny, eight-acre campus.

The museum will be open year-round and become a landmark attraction for Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area, a place for watching and learning about film and filmmaking, for exploring film’s relationship with the greater world and for listening to stories told by filmmakers themselves.

The museum’s public programs, lectures and hands-on exhibits will attract Los Angelenos, tourists, Academy members, film professionals, students and everyone in between. While people may be initially drawn in by the allure of Hollywood, we hope they will leave inspired and exhilarated, with a deeper appreciation for what movies have given them – characters they root for and sympathize with, glimpses into lives they wouldn’t have otherwise known, and stories that have shaped the American dream and our sense of national identity.

Sidney Poitier in the film classic 'To Sir With Love' (1967) with Lulu.

Sidney Poitier in the film classic 'To Sir With Love' (1967) with Lulu.

Who are our heroes and how have they changed over time? How have films depicted volatile issues like civil rights, religion, gender relations, poverty and war? How have they shaped our sense of masculinity, femininity and romance? How have Hollywood and Southern California affected the image of the United States, at home and abroad? Such are some of the topics the museum’s exhibits will explore, while allowing visitors to view films within the historical, cultural and technological contexts in which they were made.

But to see a film on screen is to see a finished product, not the creative process behind it. And so the Academy’s museum will also include spaces that explore the evolution of filmmaking. It will pull back the curtain, celebrating movie magic while allowing visitors a peek at how it is created. Each of the crafts will be illustrated in lucid, dazzling and unexpected ways, inviting visitors to explore often hidden worlds, whether that be a soundstage, an art department, a post-production studio or the Oscar® show itself. Visitors will be invited to sit in the director’s chair, costume a character, light a starlet, choose a location, cast a film, edit a trailer, score a movie, even walk the red carpet. They will come away with a better understanding of each craft, feeling that they have experienced cinematic creation themselves. It will forever change the way they watch movies.

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride (1950)

The Academy’s museum will be a place of continuously changing exhibitions and programs of interest to residents as well as tourists. It will not rely solely on static objects and images, but will instead utilize interactive and experiential exhibitions, along with well-chosen memorabilia – “the bones of our saints,” if you will. Premieres, foreign films, silent movies, retrospectives, tributes – the screen­ing schedule in the museum’s state-of-the-art theater will be diverse and enticing, luring locals again and again and becoming one of the first things movie-loving tourists will check when planning trips to Southern California.

The Academy has collaborated with many different constituen­cies to determine the content of its museum exhibitions – from craftspeople in each branch, to historians, scholars and film critics, to staff at prominent museums around the country. The priorities are clear: to develop signature content, robust educational programs and exhibits that will attract both residents and tourists, all while providing a “red carpet” standard of visitor hospitality and service.

Years from now, we envision that the museum’s campus will be the hub of the vibrant neighborhood of Hollywood. Its collection, in concert with those of the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive, will continue to provide an important record of the evolution of filmmaking. The museum will be acknowledged as the best in the world on the subject, having become a “must-see” destination in the Los Angeles area and a major center for Academy members to gather and discuss, debate and share issues of importance to filmmaking – past, present and future.

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Interview with President Barack Obama

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith interview President Barack Obama after he receives the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 in Oslo, Norway.

Part One

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Part Two

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