Hollywood News

‘Free State of Jones’ | Review | Habari Gani, America!

Free State of Jones is one of the most overlooked films featured this summer. Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, an AWOL Confederate soldier and Mahershala Ali as Moses, an escaped enslaved African lead the tensions in this Civil War period piece. I viewed this film once for the overall story line and a second time for the details. Sorry, no spoilers here.

Historians and film producers often lean towards either the burdens of old slave narratives or the glorious Civil Rights Era when depicting the African quest for true freedom in America. Besides John Singleton and Gregory Poirier‘s Rosewoodfew mainstream films have touched in detail on the post-Civil War/Reconstruction Black Lives timeline as Director/Writer Gary Ross and Writer Leonard Hartman in the Free State of Jones.

The film juxtapositions the strong presence of self-determined ‘free’ Black lives amidst slavery and segregation against the sub-civil war between wealthy Confederates and poor families, black and white.

The films weakest transitions are forward flashes to a future trial determining the racial identity of Davis Knight, Newton Knight’s second son. The outcome would determine the legality of Davis’s marriage to a White woman according to post-war segregation laws.

Other considerations are the relationship shifts as Blacks are legally free in 1865. Jones County, Mississippi grapples with Military Reconstruction in response to the South’s attempt to re-enslave Blacks through indentured servitude, Blacks gaining voting rights through the 15th Amendment and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Free State of Jones is a worthy film for any historian or film buff to have in their quiver. Below is an excerpt from author Richard Grant’s Smithsonian Institute article regarding the film’s historical value and present day Jones County’s varying sentiments toward Newton Knight and the film.

“ [Professor Wyatt Moulds] described Jones County as the most conservative place in Mississippi, but he noted that race relations were improving and that you could see it clearly in the changing attitudes toward Newt Knight. ‘It’s generational,’ he said. ‘A lot of older people see Newt as a traitor and a reprobate, and they don’t understand why anyone would want to make a movie about him. If you point out that Newt distributed food to starving people, and was known as the Robin Hood of the Piney Woods, they’ll tell you he married a black, like that trumps everything. And they won’t use the word ‘black.’”
[Moulds’s] current crop of students, on the other hand, are “fired up” about Newt and the movie. ‘Blacks and whites date each other in high school now, and they don’t think it’s a big deal,’ said Moulds. ‘That’s a huge change. Some of the young guys are really identifying with Newt now, as a symbol of Jones County pride. It doesn’t hurt that he was such a badass.’ “

“In the Lost Cause mythology, the South was united, and secession had nothing to do with slavery,” said Moulds. “What happened in Jones County puts the lie to that, so the Lost Causers have to paint Newt as a common outlaw, and above all else, deny all traces of Unionism. With the movie coming out, they’re at it harder than ever.”

Source: The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’ | History | Smithsonian

Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

By now Shonda Rhimes is a universally recognized name in the television industry, so her receiving the prestigious Sherry Lansing Leadership Award is one of many to follow. Her small-screen writing and production of Greys Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder has gained her a prominence in the industry that few women have experienced in the past.  Rhimes wears success well. Never does she forget to tip her hat to women of color across the board. Scandal lead, Tom Goldwyn states that Rhimes “redefine[s] the television landscape.” Social media posts, whether affirming the creative genius in Rhimes’s characters, or bristling over a particular scene attest that nothing about either of her three dynamic creations is ordinary. Check out video at: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/shonda-rhimes-at-thrs-power-755878Watch Shonda Rhimes' Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech

“This moment right here, me standing up here all brown with my boobs and my Thursday night of network television full of women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men, women who are big dogs, that could only be happening right now.

Think about it.

Look around this room. It’s filled with women of all colors in Hollywood who are executives and heads of studios and VPs and show creators and directors. There are a lot of women in Hollywood in this room who have the game-changing ability to say yes or no to something.

15 years ago, that would not have been as true.”

via Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Totally Empowering Women In Entertainment Speech.

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile | #OYRchallenge

Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile

In this comprehensive review of Justin Simien’s first film “Dear White People,” published in “NewBlackMan (in Exile)”, Stephane Dunn teases out the academic and cultural notations guiding this redress on post-racialism. The film’s production and acceptance by the viewing public stands as a step forward in the overt race conversation. The title alone, in earlier years and still today, would have whites and fearful Blacks running the other way. Yet, “Dear White People” is making its rounds in theaters across the United States. Progress at least among some populations.


Dear White People doesn’t merely copy or recycle still relevant cultural critiques about the racist imagery that infuses film and American culture though Simien certainly traverses some familiar ground – racialized representations in pop culture and warring notions of black authenticity, brought up to date with Aaron McGruder-like Boondock boldness. Dear White People adds its own chapter taking on ‘post-racial’ – ‘post-black’ contemporary discourses. However, that and title aside, its concern is with a range of competing social identities, particularly class and sexuality and the intersection of these with race. Race is as much a device as key theme.- Stephane Dunn

Similar to Ferguson, Missouri’s recent protest in the murder of Michael Brown, among other young Black men and women, some in the African American community sit astraddle the discussion of race. Our scholars and young are eager for the discussion to expand beyond academic discourse. The older and fearful or ‘conservative’ wait to mingle among the crowds that gather or recline – if a spark is not ignited. The mixed bag is historic and similar to any community. Still this historic step forward does not require the total capitulation of the African American community. The mere progress of this film speaks for itself.

Read this review. See the film. Then, bring this conversation of race and identity to your dinner table, clubs, and communities.

via Dear White People and the Myth of the Post-Race College Campus | NewBlackMan in Exile.

Official Trailer for ‘Dear White People’ Movie – Urban Cusp

The film, written and directed by Justin Simien, is a satirical film about being a black face in a white place.  According to the official Facebook page for the film, “Dear White People follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over a popular “African American” themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film will explore racial identity in ‘post-racial’ America, while weaving a universal story of forging one’s unique path in the world.” #OYRchallenge

via Official Trailer for ‘Dear White People’ Movie – Urban Cusp.#OYRchallenge

Exclusive: Watch The First 7 Minutes Of ‘Better Mus’ Come’ (Opens Today In NYC & LA) | Shadow and Act

On the heels of the great success of its simultaneous one-night engagements in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington DC, Seattle, Chicago, and Houston 2 days ago, as well as in celebration of today’s theatrical debut of the film, AFFRM’s new multi-platform label ARRAY has shared the first 7-minutes of Storm Saulter’s acclaimed Better Mus’ Come, exclusively with Shadow and Act, for our readers.

via Exclusive: Watch The First 7 Minutes Of ‘Better Mus’ Come’ (Opens Today In NYC & LA) | Shadow and Act.

OSCARS: Who Was Worst-Dressed? – Yahoo! Movies

Monica Corcoran Harel is contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.

As I like to say, you’re only as good as your last gown. And while no one really spilled blood on the red carpet at the Oscars, a few actresses missed the mark today. Mostly because they just didn’t seem to care enough or try very hard. Jennifer Aniston’s matronly tomato-red Valentino reminded me of a sad little bowl of vanilla ice cream when I’m on a PMS snack binge. Yawn. The classic silhouette also called for more effort with her hair and makeup. She looked like she came straight from Zuma Beach. Kristen Stewart’s cream strapless Reem Acra gown felt like a wishy-washy afterthought for the edgy, young star who fronts for Balenciaga. She appeared sullen, like she was heading for an arranged marriage.

via OSCARS: Who Was Worst-Dressed? – Yahoo! Movies.


The Curious Case Of Hattie McDaniel’s Missing Oscar… Did You Know? | Shadow and Act

In the history of the Academy Awards, more than a few Oscars statuettes have either gone missing or were stolen. 55 disappeared from a Los Angeles loading dock just days before the ceremony in 2000. All but two were recovered. In 1938, an unidentified man jumped onstage to accept an award on behalf of Best Supporting Actress winner Alice Brady, who was too ill to attend. The man was never seen again — and neither was Brady’s award. In 2002, UPS lost Whoopi Goldberg‘s Best Supporting Actress Oscar when it was sent out for cleaning. It was later found in a trash can.

And then there’s the case of Hattie McDaniel, who won Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in the 1939 epic Gone With the Wind, making her the first African American to win an Academy Award. But that award has been missing for some 40 years!

via The Curious Case Of Hattie McDaniel’s Missing Oscar… Did You Know? | Shadow and Act.


First Look at Kerry Washington in “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples” — Will You Watch? – Clutch Magazine | Clutch Magazine

Actress Kerry Washington continues to impress with a diverse portfolio, moving seamlessly from playing no-nonsense fixer Olivia Pope in the hit series “Scandal” to troubled slave in need of rescuing Broomhilda in “Django Unchained.” Though her latest role as the star of a romantic comedy is a complete diversion from her last two gritty, serious characters, it promises to be just as compelling.

She will star in “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples,” a big screen adaptation of Tina Gordon Chism’s “We The Peeples.”

via First Look at Kerry Washington in “Tyler Perry Presents Peeples” — Will You Watch? – Clutch Magazine | Clutch Magazine.


Bill Cosby ‘I’m 83 And I’m Tired’ Rant Is Fake, Angers Cosby

A Bill Cosby rant titled “I’m 83 and I’m Tired” has been making its way around Facebook and email in recent days, one in which the comedy legend seems to rant against people who mooch off government support and those looking to “spread the wealth.”

The only problem is that those aren’t Bill Cosby’s words at all. In fact, Cosby is pretty angry that people would think it’s coming from him.

via Bill Cosby ‘I’m 83 And I’m Tired’ Rant Is Fake, Angers Cosby.


EXCLUSIVE: Jeanette Jenkins’ Secret to Getting Kelly Rowland’s Super Bowl Body | Essence.com

When Beyoncé brought out Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a Destiny’s Child reunion at the Super Bowl, Twitter went into overdrive. The tweets and reactions to Rowland’s well-defined arms and toned thighs left many wondering, “How did she get that body?” We know the answer: With the help of personal trainer Jeanette Jenkins

via EXCLUSIVE: Jeanette Jenkins’ Secret to Getting Kelly Rowland’s Super Bowl Body | Essence.com.