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The 90th Academy Awards will telecast live by ABC from L.A.’s Dolby Theatre Sunday, again hosted by late night’s Jimmy Kimmel and presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at 6:30 P.M. [Red Carpet] with a gala start at 8 P.M. The Awards will be seen or streamed live or via tape delay in more than 225 countries. This being the 90th annual awards, there’ll surely be a lot of movie history. Undoubtedly, filled as ever with glitz and bejeweled and high coutured glamour, it will run until close to midnight.
The long-absent diversity began to spike last year. This year it exploded. It’s a big year for indies – building upon last year’s winner Moonlight, the first film with an all-black cast and the first LGBT-themed film to win [after the sloppy accounting firm’s reps located the correct envelope – and such astute stars as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway somehow failed to read what was printed on it].
Be warned, says Jimmy Kimmel, “If you think we screwed up the ending this year, wait until you see what we have planned for this year.” He shares that he’s labored long and hard on the comic elements, “writing thousands of jokes and choosing 30 for the big night.” Kimmel added that he believes “it’s almost necessary to address the current state of politics,” as the late show hosts have been doing for well over a year, “and other serious matters.”
Still, with the Golden Globes presented only a week into the new year, followed by the SAG Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, New York Film [and every major city’s] Critics Awards, and the You-Name-It-Movie Awards, the Oscars are anti-climatic. The Globes productions, even without huge production numbers, get better with each airing.
Last year with the blistering speech by [then] 30-time nominee/eight wins “mediocre” Meryl Streep on accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award [little known today is that in addition to his racy spectacles, the director was an ultra-conservative and rabid anti-Communist rebel rouser] and this year with Oprah’s “pre-presidential run” acceptance speech on receiving the same honor, there are more WOW! moments. Granted the Globes is a far smaller organization compared with the Academy’s various guilds pushing nominations, but for the Oscars to remain relevant they should not only air earlier in the year but also, in spite of union pressures not to, move many of the creative awards to a pre-show segment as the Tony Awards do. There would also be time for more and longer clips.
2017 was a banner year for indies – several of which are among the top contenders in the Top Nine. Over 341 films were eligible for nomination honors; 70 eligible original songs [with audiences rushing to exit as the end credits endlessly crawl, most probably never heard even last year’s five nominees. There are 24 categories, and prior-to-telecast technical and honorary awards – some 200 nominees in all.
With ever-rising ticket prices and entertainment-hungry huddled masses, not being able to get enough programming at home, arriving to be infused with “buttered” popcorn, salsa and chips, Milk Duds, Sno-caps, and iced-cold Coke, box office records were broken nearly every summer and holiday weekend.
Presenters will include past Oscar winners and nominees Mahershala Ali (Supporting Actor, Moonlight), Emily Blunt, Sandra Bullock, Dave Chappelle, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Jane Fonda, Jodie Foster, Ashley Judd, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, Helen Mirren, Rita Moreno, Lupita Nyong’o, Eva Marie Saint, Emma Stone and Christopher Walken.
Also on hand will be: Chadwick Boseman, Gal Gadot, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, Tiffany Haddish, Mark Hamill, Armie Hammer, Tom Holland, Oscar Isaac, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kumail Nanjiani, Margot Robbie, Gina Rodriguez, Wes Studi, Daniela Vega, and Zendaya.
There are five planned production numbers. The original singers of the year's five Oscar-nominated songs will reprise their performances, with Oscar-nominated tunes performed by Mary J. Blige (Mudbound): Gael García Bernal, Miguel, and Natalia Lafourcade (Coco); rapper Common and powerhouse belter Andra Day (Marshall); Keala Settle (from The Greatest Showman); and Sufjan Stevens (Call Me by Your Name).
The Shape of Water leads the pack with 13 nominations, Dunkirk follows with eight nods, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri has seven.
2018 Nomination Highlights:
Honorary Awards, for “extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy,” have been presented to actor, cinematographer, director, editor, producer, and writer Charles Burnett; five-time Oscar nominated cinematographer Owen Roizman (Tootsie, Network, and among many others), The French Connection, Donald Sutherland; and French director Agnès Varda.
At www.oscars.org, check out the numerous special features, which include video clips and photos, a full list of nominees, and a ballot.
The 2018 Academy Awards will be produced again by Michael De Luca and Jennifer Todd and directed by Glenn Weiss (Tony Awards). Says De Luca (Captain Phillips, Moneyball, The Social Network), “We always thought the idea that anything can happen on the Oscars was a cliché until we lived it. So, it’s great to get two chances to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- and handed the keys to a party 90 years in the making. Tune in!”
Texas-based veterinarians Dr. Diarra Blue, Dr. Aubrey Ross and Dr. Michael Lavigne have a flourishing practice and because of their shared passion and love of animals —big and small—they are eager to continue serving their loyal clientele including loving family cats and dogs as well as farm animals and rare exotics. In between offering the best medical treatment to their patients, the Doctors must simultaneously balance their personal lives with wives and kids– all while supporting one another along the way. The third season of “The Vet Life” continues to give a glimpse into these very special doctors lives. Highlights from this season include Cy-Fair Animal Hospital reopening after being closed for multiple days due to Hurricane Harvey. Dr. Blue trip to a Vegan cattle ranch to stop an unexpected cow baby boom. Dr. Ross solution to dealing with mischievous ferrets with a skin condition, and Dr. Lavigne knee surgery on an old English bulldog that was rescued from a puppy mill.
When asked the busy doctors to give some needed advice on how to better care for pets in our own family Dr. Diarra Blue, Dr. Aubrey Ross and Dr. Michael Lavigneoffered this:
“The Vet Life” is produced for Animal Planet by Glass Entertainment Group with Argle Bargle Films. For Glass Entertainment Group, Nancy Glass is the executive producer. For Argle Bargle Films, Shannon Biggs and Jairus Cobb are executive producers. For Animal Planet, Keith Hoffman is executive producer and Sarah Russell is the producer.
Photo courtesy of Simply Greg
Daniel J. Watts is quick-witted, so very quick-witted reminding me of our conversation that no two shows of The Jam: Only Child are alike. Watts likes to “flow” and see where the material takes him. To feel the audience and let that energy guide him through the process.
When he left Hamilton, a lot of people pondered and asked why followed by what’s next? A man who stands on creative spontaneity, I can imagine how quickly the gears of Watts' brain were churning. For the record, in addition to the February 19th performance of The Jam: Only Child, he will be seen in TBS’ upcoming “The Last O.G.,” and Signature Theatre’s The Death of The Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World.
But back to Joe’s Pub at the Public, under his production company—WattsWords Productions—his next venture is Watts' aforementioned The Jam: Only Child which is an evening of music, dance and spoken word ( Monday, February 19) at Joe’s Pub at The Public at New York’s famed Public Theater (425 Lafayette Street). The doors open at 9 pm and the show begins at 9.30pm.
The dynamic performer will be sharing the stage with DJ Duggz, aka Preston Dugger III (Motown the Musical, Memphis) who will keep the crowd hyped, spinning through the evening.
Watts is a sentimental man and although The Jam: Only Child is a play-on-words, this play pays homage to Watts’ great-grandmother who, after making jam from scratch, would share with others what she was unable to consume herself. A stunning memory and one, I suspect, that many of us share in our collective cultures. Brown, Black and Native people from a historical point-of-view have always shared their bounty. That’s why, in part, the Native population got into trouble with trying to “share” with the starving pilgrims.
The Jam: Only Child is Watts’ continuation of that legacy featuring his original spoken word, often set to music and dance. This is Watts’ second installation of The Jam: Only Child after premiering it last summer as one of historic Webster Hall’s final acts before closing its doors forever in August.
In 2016, the stage blazed galvanizing cast members from Hamilton, On Your Feet, and Shuffle Along and there Watts played to a packed house in Webster Hall’s Marlin Room with The Jam: Love Terrorists - A Benefit for Orlando. The event raised $7500 for the LGBT community in Orlando after the horrific attack at Pulse Night Club.
Forever a curious artist Watts is all about shaking it up and his WattsWords Productions is dedicated to developing original programming including live performances, web content, and demonstrations written by Daniel J. Watts in an effort to urge communities to actively engage in focusing on their social similarities opposed to their differences.
“Each time I put together a new edition of The Jam, it is inspired by what is happening in the world, in my world, or in my life,” said the artist and activist. “This Jam has a coming of age feel. It involves journeying through the experiences that have shaped my perceptions and influenced my decision-making, allowing me to take stock of what I need to hold on to and what I can afford to let go.”
According to a February 7, 2018, Indiewire article, “Black Panther” will break many box-office records. Stating that, “It will very likely join the top 5 among all Marvel openings, but that's only the beginning for Ryan Coogler's superhero.”
In the March issue of Essence, its cast offers a sneak peek into Black Panther’s incredible world of Wakanda — with three regal covers featuring stars Chadwick Boseman, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright. In the accompanying article, “Watch the Throne,” cast and creatives expound on why this African fantasy feels very real.
Playwright and actress Gurira plays Okoye, head of the Dora Milaje (Wakanda’s all-female special forces of who are T'Challa's bodyguards) and is a member of the Border tribe — said that the role was appealing because she responded to the idea of powerful women. “The idea of creating a scenario where you’re seeing very powerful empowered Africans is really thrilling to me, " "something my heart, soul, and spirit yearned to see…”
Oscar® winning actress Lupita Nyong'o is Nakia of the River Tribe, T'Challa's former lover and a Dora Milaje operative, expressed what she felt, as an African woman, when she walked on the set of Wakanda: “For me, as an African in this film, to walk on set and to see these incredible costumes and hairdos, these are the things I grew up seeing, but they’ve just been elevated to a fantastical place. We’re going to experience the richness of the continent because the continent is what has informed us of what Wakanda could be…”
In the role of the Queen Mother Ramonda, actress Angela Bassett shared that when she received the call from director Coogler, she had never heard of her character but was eager to play the stepmother of T’Challa — Black Panther.
What most critics are calling a stand-out performance by newcomer Letitia Wright, who plays Princess Shuri, Black Panther’s super-smart 16 year old sister and second in line for Wakanda's throne, the young actress made it clear that she understood what was being placed on her slender but capable shoulders. “We understand the responsibility. It can shift mindsets. I can be a Black superhero. I can be a scientist. I’m a queen. I’m a young prince. It’s not about me. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than all of us…”
Also in the March issue, is a feature created around their annual Black Women in Hollywood event where Essence onorees those who shine beyond the screen— Gurira, Tiffany Haddish, Lena Waithe and Tessa Thompson.
Essence’s annual “Black Women in Hollywood” luncheon — its highly anticipated annual Oscar-week celebration — will take place on Thursday, March 1st, 2018, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, CA.
The following are comments from the honorees:
Haddish on Having Fun While Performing:“'When you’re onstage, you need to be having fun.’ That’s the advice Richard Pryor gave me. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, I live by that philosophy…If I’m not having fun? Well, that’s when I end up getting arrested!…”
Gurira on Creating Opportunities for Women of Color: “Creating opportunities for Black women, women of African descent and other women of color is a big part of my mandate because I want us to shine. I understand that being on TV as Michonne [in The Walking Dead] and in films like ‘Black Panther’ helps Black girls feel validated. I don’t take that lightly…”
Waithe on Winning an Emmy and Telling Our Stories: “Being the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing was just amazing, but I don’t want to be the last. The award is bigger than me. It’s about our industry, our society, taking a big leap forward. It’s about my ancestors, the women comedy writers and queer communities of color. I shared that moment with them…”
Thompson on Breaking New Ground With Her Roles: “I feel as if I’m breaking new ground and providing more representation for women of color around the globe. But even if it wasn’t me, I’d still look at those projects and if I saw a woman who looked like me, I’d think, Wow!…”
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