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For these performers, taking their careers into their own hands was as simple as “Testing, 1, 2, 3...” “Denzel Washington Is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period”They say the formula to success on the Internet is specificity. If you couldn’t tell by the title, W. Kamau Bell and Kevin Avery—comedians, hosts, and co-creators of “Dwitgaoatp”—have that part down. But what makes their podcast stand out goes beyond niche. Bell and Avery have made it their mission to mark, with unabashed adoration, all of the reasons Denzel Washington lives up to their appellation, and in the process manage to marry equally humorous and grounded observations about the craft of acting, Hollywood, and the state of film and television for actors of (and not of) color. Over the course of 80 episodes thus far, our hosts discuss every Washington movie ever made, alongside Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, David Alan Grier, Michael Rapaport, »
I was 16, coming home on the subway from a party in Manhattan. It was 2 or so in the morning, and I was on the A train. Regardless of what romantic notion you may have of the A train because of Duke Ellington’s immortal song “Take the A Train,” that train is the last place you want to be at 2 in the morning.
What took my situation from bad-to-worse, the A train is (or was, this was 30 plus years ago) a local at that time in the morning. For those of you who deprived of the sheer delight – or utter dread – of an NYC subway ride, a local train stops at all stations on the line.
No matter where I boarded, I was going to the end of the line.
The “end of the line” on the A train on two occasions was not just my destination, but nearly a bad New York Post headline. One night while waiting for the A train I was stabbed during an attempted mugging. Another time while trying to defend a young white girl some thug put a gun to my forehead, pulled the trigger, but his gun jammed.
For asking him to be cool, I almost get shot in the head.
On this particular early morning, I was sitting alone with my feet up on another seat. My feet were up for a couple of reasons; the first was so I could look hard. Hard in a “do not mess with me because I’m hard and may have a weapon on me because I’m hard” kind of way.
The second reason my feet were placed on the seat next to mine was to discourage people from sitting there. Before the Rudy Giuliani era in New York, the subway was a Mecca for the homeless, and you don’t want a New York City homeless person sitting next to you.
After all these years I’m now a bleeding heart liberal, and I feel for those less fortunate than I. These days’ homeless people sadden me.
That’s these days.
At 16 what I felt for the homeless was an evident scorn. I may have felt that way because my mother, sister and I were truly just a grandmother and a paycheck away from being homeless ourselves. That perhaps hardened my heart towards homeless people. Maybe I didn’t want to be reminded that there for the grace of God go I… yada, yadda, yadda…bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, yadda, yadda and yadda.
I’m not that deep now, and I certainly was not that deep at 16.
The real reason I did not want a homeless person sitting next to me is that they stank.
You have not smelled stank until you smell an NYC homeless person. The smell is beyond horrible. Somehow NYC homeless people all manage to stink the same. The smell is indescribably bad to the point you’d almost rather die than get even a small whiff of it.
So, there I was, 16 years old at 2 in the morning riding the A train trying my best to look hard so a smelly homeless person would not sit next to me and force me to deal with my mortality.
At the Howard Beach stop a black man in his mid 20s boards the train. He made a beeline right to me even though there were plenty of empty seats. “Can I sit here?” He asked very nicely. I moved my feet so he could sit down. Frankly I was glad he asked because the train was waiting at the Howard Beach stop for some reason or another and since we were the only two black people on the train at that point I welcomed the company.
Howard Beach was known as hardcore crazy white boy territory during the time I grew up. In 1986 a young black man was beaten to death by a mob of white boys in a racially motivated attack. There have been incidents before and since. Black people knew not to mess with those crazy white boys in Howard Beach and not just because of racist attitudes there.
Howard Beach was also the home of John Gotti, the then-head of the Gambino crime family. I don’t like fish, so the idea of sleeping with them was not one that appealed to me. This was a place where African Americans had better fear to tread. I did indeed welcome this guy’s company because clearly we were on enemy ground.
Brandon was his name, and we clicked immediately. That may have been because we were both keenly aware that any minute a gang of crazy white boys could board the train and lynch us both. Our getting along so fast, I’m sure, was due to the fact we wanted to present a united front. Both hoping that would give the illusion we were two badass motherfuckers and any lynch mob should think twice about harassing us, strength in numbers and all that.
We sat at Howard Beach for another quarter hour when the doors finally closed and we could relax a little. The next stop was Broad Channel. Broad Channel was not nearly as bad as Howard Beach – it was more akin to crazy white boys lite, but still crazy white boys.
I realize I’m throwing “crazy white boys” around a lot. Back when I was 16 “crazy white boys” were my mindset and referring to white people in an all-white neighborhood where black people feared to tread was how I saw things.
After Broad Channel was the beginning of the hood, so Brandon and I needed just to chill (chill means just to be calm, but you knew that from reruns of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, didn’t you?) until the perceived danger was past. Broad Channel came and went as did our gangster conversation.
Brandon asked where I was getting off, and I told him. Beach 60th Street. “You want to come hang at my house?” Brandon inquired. That made me a bit uncomfortable. The Howard Beach threat over, I now returned to my general suspicions of those not from my hood.
“I’ve got stuff I’ve got to do at home,” I said. Yeah, I had to get into my bed and give the impression that I was home all night before my mother got in from working the midnight to 8 in the morning shift at the nursing home this after she had the 3 in the afternoon to 11 at another job. She would be in no mood to lecture me or even hit me, after her 16 plus hour day she would go straight to the .38 and shoot me.
I couldn’t come out and say to Brandon “my mommy would kill me if I’m not home” that did not fit my hard-core persona.
“Come on. We can have some real fun.” Brandon said, his hand now on my leg. That hand was slowly but steadily creeping up. He seemed to be talking in a much softer voice and was smiling in a strange way.
Where had I seen that kind of smile before? Shit, I know where! I’ve seen it on me whenever I happened to glance in a mirror while alone in my room with some Vaseline and a Penthouse magazine.
Now I get it!
Brandon was a faggot and he wanted to ravish my young sexiness. Yeah, I said the ‘F’ word, I was 16, remember? Unfortunately, that was my mindset then.
Brandon still had his hand on my leg, and it was still creeping up. “What the fuck are you doing?” I said, trying to sound real hard. I wanted to look thuggish, but I was scared, so my voice rose and I sounded like I girl.
“Come on; it’s cool.” He responded even more softly than before. “Get your motherfucking hands off me, faggot!” screamed Shirley Temple. I was hoping, this time, he could see I was pissed and back off.
Nope. He squeezed my crouch. I guess he was into hardcore black boys from the hood with Shirley Temple voices. Then again, who isn’t?
I leaned back as far as I could on the seat and kicked him squarely in the chest. I wanted to kick him in his face but felt at the last moment if I leaned back any further I would have fallen off my seat. I hit him so hard he fell off his seat landed on the floor his head slamming against the subway floor. I may have sounded like Shirley Temple, but I kicked like Bruce Lee.
“Motherfucker, I’m not a goddamn faggot!” I shrieked at the top of my Shirley Temple lungs while looking to land my next kick right between his good ship lollipops. Brandon sat up his hands in front of him making a “no more” gesture. He looked up at me and said “Jesus, man what is your problem?”
It was with that I realized most of what I thought was going on, wasn’t. His hand was on my leg, but it wasn’t slowly but steadily creeping up. He did not grab my crouch nor had his voiced gotten softer. I had turned an innocent most likely accidental touch into a full on man rape in my mind.
So absorbed in my own horribly tainted view of the world I had imagined this was what was on his mind. To make matters as worse as they could be I then kicked away any guilt I felt at being wrong by responding; “Get the fuck away me.”
That was over 30 years ago. Today I would never use the ‘F’ word to describe a gay person. I hate to use the cliché some of my best friends are gay, but… some of my best friends are gay. My attitude towards gay people changed when I changed high schools in the 11th grade. My new school, the High School of Art & Design, had a diverse student body and being gay there was not a big deal at all. But being stupid was.
Stupid I was when I said something so gross my first week at Art & Design it could have tainted my entire time there. It was a gay guy named Frank who saved my ass by laughing at an insult giving the impression to everybody present I was making a joke. I wasn’t and Frank knew I was wasn’t. He whispered “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Michael, grow up.”
Thank god, I did.
After meeting and getting to know many gay people in my new school it dawned on me that they were no different than I was. They just happened to like sex with the same gender. Hell, in high school outside my loving relationship with the girls of Penthouse I was not having any sex at all, so they were one up on me.
Accepting gay people, having grown up in the severe anti-gay atmosphere of a black housing project was not as hard as you would imagine for me. My mother had a “no prejudice” rule in our home. Remarkable when you know just how dreadfully bad her encounters were with racists growing up.
Changing my position on gay people wasn’t hard, but it was still a huge deal for me because of my environment. It represented the first of many sea changes for me in my existence.
When I was not in school, I was still a resident of Edgemere projects in Far Rockaway Queens, which at the time was well on its way to being one of the worst projects in New York.
I was living a double life, and I intended to keep it that way. There was no way in Hell I would have ever acknowledged that I no longer found gay people repulsive to anyone in Edgemere.
Oh no, that would certainly not do. Why not stand up for my beliefs?
In the African American community where I grew up, there was little love for individuals who accept gay people. I may as well have stood up for and proudly proclaimed the Klan as the greatest group since The Temptations. Repealing my position on gay people would have gotten me branded as such, my ass kicked or worse in Edgemere.
At 16, noble I was not. No longer being able to participate in any reindeer games would have had a profound effect on me. It did not occur to me till much later that may have been a good thing.
I don’t want to give the impression that all black people I grew up with condemned the gay lifestyle, not the case at all. Many saw gay people as having every right as anyone else. But even today unfortunately among some in the African American community I’m in the minority, at odds with those, still light years if not eons away from embracing gay people at least in public.
“I gotta find this guy.”
Dwayne McDuffie said as he and I searched the corridors of a New York City comics convention in 1992. We were looking for Ivan Velez Jr., the remarkable writer of Tales of the Closet. The book was a look at the high school lives of gay and lesbian students and what they experienced.
Exceptionally written and drawn with a simple yet effective style the book instantly drew me back to A&D and thoughts of Frank and his crew. Ivan is a man of little words outside of what he puts on the page. He’s a big, gentle, quiet soul who lets his work do the talking for him. However, when he feels he has something to say few can match his oratory abilities, so it’s best not to engage him on the wrong side of an issue.
I thought about Frank, Ivan, the creators and fans of Prism Comics and my brother from another mother Andy Mangels when I heard the news of the Orlando massacre. I thought about how it must feel just to want to love who you want and be slaughtered for it.
I thought about how stupid I was at 16 and wondered how on earth some who claim to love their God can commit cold blooded murder on his behalf. I wonder how Donald Trump could brag about predicting another attack then hours later issue a more humane statement and not express his outrage or even mention the Lgbt community then blatantly lie about the murderer being born in Afghanistan.
He wasn’t. He was born in the good old USA.
So was I and as far as I know most of the people at the Pulse nightclub, that night was born here also.
This was an attack on a lifestyle, an attack on America and an attack on freedom everywhere. Yes, it was all that.
It was also an attack on Frank, Ivan, Prism Comics and Andy. It was an attack on my friends. If you fuck with my friends, you fuck with me because unlike some people I know I stand with my friends no matter what.
If you don’t, soon they will come for you. They will because no matter who you are or what you believe in, you’re at risk. If you let this horror go then the next before long knowing you stand for no one but yourself, then those who disagree will know you stand alone.
Malcolm X said a man who will stand for nothing will fall for anything.
And fall you will. »
- Michael Davis
One of Muhammad Ali’s biggest struggles culminated in 1974’s Rumble in the Jungle, where it seemed that the spirit of the progressive forces in the world was about to battle the spirit of the repressive status quo.
Early on, Cassius Clay related to the wider world. His father was interested in Marcus Garvey and pan-Africanism. Cassius started reading “Muhammad Speaks” in 1959. In the early ‘60s, the front page may have featured the opening of a Nation of Islam haberdashery on 64th Street in Chicago, but buried in the middle pages were national liberation struggles in the third world, Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, gleaming new public housing in Nkrumah’s Ghana.
Then, when he became world champion and changed his religion and declared himself free of every Jim Crow assumption and expectation including his slave name (“I had to prove you could be a new kind of black man. »
- Michael Mann
People tend to get stuck on the numbers, and rightly so, they're impressive. When the original Roots aired in 1977, nearly 85 percent of American homes watched some part of the eight-night event on the saga of Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) and his descendants. The finale alone attracted 100 million viewers, which is astounding when you consider that this is before most Americans had ever encountered acronyms like DVR or Vcr. But even more shocking than the historic ratings, is that the fact that Roots ever got made at all. The new History Channel update and the 1977 series were based on Alex Haley's of the same name. »
- Alynda Wheat, @AlyndaWheat
Legendary American independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch has been a frequent visitor to the Cannes Film Festival ever since winning the Camera d’Or for Stranger Than Paradise in 1984. He took the Grand Jury prize in 2005 for Broken Flowers but has never managed to nab the Big One. His latest film, Paterson, which premiered last week in competition here, is the story of a bus driver (played by Adam Driver) named Paterson who lives in Paterson NJ, walks his wife’s bulldog, Marvin, and writes poems in his spare time. We sat down with the great silver-haired Son of Lee Marvin to talk hip-hop, Tilda Swinton, and the poetry of everyday things.
Some critics have called this your most personal film. How do would you respond to a statement like that?
I don’t know. With our last film, Only Lovers Left Alive, everyone said “Aha! His most personal film!” I don’t know. »
- Rory O'Connor
May your 19th be beautiful.
On this day in history as it relates to the movies...
1536 Anne Boleyn is beheaded. Her tragedy is later reenacted by hundreds of actresses on tv, stage and film including Natalie Portman, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, and Genevieve Bujold (Oscar nomination).
1836 Cynthia Ann Parker is kidnapped in Texas during an Indian raid after her family is slaughtered. That's a tough break but not many people get to live on in history through multiple classics albeit under pseudonyms like "Debbie Edwards" (Natalie Wood in The Searchers) and "Stands With Fist" (Mary McDonnell in Dances With Wolves).
1941 Nora Ephron is born spewing witticisms.
1958 Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is released in movie theaters. »
- NATHANIEL R
"The Furniture" is our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber on Joy, now available on DVD and Bluray
It seems impossible that production designer Judy Becker has only received a single Oscar nomination, if not supremely unfair as well. At the very least, she should have snagged a second nomination for Carol. Her resume includes such diverse triumphs as We Need to Talk About Kevin, Brokeback Mountain, Shame and I’m Not There, as well as a neat early credit as a set dresser on Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. And so it seems totally appropriate that Becker is the first production designer to merit a repeat appearance in 'The Furniture'.
Becker’s most fruitful collaboration has been with David O. Russell. She's worked on every one of his features since The Fighter and she earned her lone Oscar nomination for American Hustle. Her sets for Joy, particularly »
- Daniel Walber
One of the 25 films to be inducted for preservation in the 2010 National Film Registry of the Library of Congress (Spike Lee's "Malcolm X" was on the short list that year), is the experimental film "The Cry of Jazz" - a fascinating 34-minute critical analysis of Jazz music, directed by Ed Bland (an African American), his only film. He went on to a career as a composer, arranger, and producer for the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, and on films like "A Raisin In The Sun," "Ganja And Hess," and "The Cool World." Shot on 16mm black-and-white with really no budget, and a volunteer cast and crew, the film is essentially a thesis on the »
- Tambay A. Obenson
The Story of God With Morgan Freeman premieres Sunday, April 3 at 9/8Ct on National Geographic Channel. By his very nature — the soulful eyes and regal bearing, legendary voice and sonorous delivery — when Morgan Freeman tells you something, you believe it. You just do. Hence, the Oscar winner is frequently tapped to play noble sorts — doctors, lawmen, statesmen, even revolutionaries like Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X. Even God. And God is the reason Freeman is here today, seated beside his Revelations Entertainment partners Lori McCreary and James Younger in a Pasadena hotel suite. Not because he’s portraying God. … Continue reading →
- Lori Acken
It’s a small prop, dwarfed by other items on the dark wooden table.
Among the books, decorative objects and remotes on the coffee table in the large family room, which is at the heart of the action in most “Black-ish” episodes, lies a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me.”
In the Feb. 24 episode of “Black-ish,” Coates’ National Book Award-winning work is not only mentioned, there’s a joke about the fact that Andre Johnson (executive producer and star Anthony Anderson) has trouble pronouncing the author’s name.
It might seem strange for a broadcast network comedy to wring a punchline from a searing meditation on police brutality and the persistence of racism in America. But it’s more than just a well-crafted comedy: Over the course of its first two seasons, “Black-ish” has emerged as the ideal family sitcom for the age of Black Lives Matter. »
- Maureen Ryan
A birth and a death... yesterday in history, February 20th, 1927, Sidney Poitier was born (read my piece on that here); Today in history... February 21st, 1965, Malcolm Little/Malcolm X/El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz was assassinated in New York City, while addressing his Pan-Africanist Organization of Afro-American Unity (the Oaau, which he founded about a year earlier), at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. He was just 39 years old. Of course, I'm sure we all know of Spike Lee's 1992 epic film based on the life of the man - a film that rests among the nation’s treasures in the world’s largest archive of film, TV and sound recordings, after being »
- Tambay A. Obenson
While millions were blown away by Beyoncé's scene-stealing performance of "Formation" at Super Bowl 50, not everyone was pleased by the show. Some pundits criticized the singer for using halftime "as a platform to attack police officers," as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani loudly complained to Fox News on Monday. Thankfully, The Daily Show's Jessica Williams, their "Senior Beyoncé Correspondent," was brought in to set the haters straight and defend the singer's empowering performance.
"There was so much in this video about black female empowerment," Williams said of the surprise "Formation" video. »
Marvel's Most Wanted has added a familiar face from the comics to its cast with Delroy Lindo (Malcolm X, Get Shorty, The Chicago Code), who will take on the role of Dominic Fortune. Dominic Fortune first appeared in 1975's Marvel Preview #2, in a story written and drawn by comics legend Howard Chaykin. A rogue and adventurer in the 1930s, Fortune craved wealth and excitement with his globe-trotting odysseys. Here's what Executive Producer/Head of Marvel Television, Jeph Loeb had to say in a statement.
"Dominic Fortune carries with him a cunning and charm but also a dangerous edge that only Delroy could bring to life. We're thrilled to have him join the show."
Delroy Lindo's first major role as Herald Loomis in August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone earned him a Tony Award nomination, leading to his breakout screen performance in Malcolm X. Since then, Lindo has »
A couple of weeks back, ABC confirmed that they were indeed moving forward with their Mockingbird/Hunter-led Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series, which is tentatively titled Marvel’s Most Wanted. The show will obviously feature Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood as they reprise their S.H.I.E.L.D. roles of Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter, respectively, but we now have our first new bit of casting information.
Various outlets are reporting that Delroy Lindo (Ransom, Blood & Oil, The Chicago Code, Kidnapped, Malcolm X, Get Shorty) has signed on to play a Marvel Comics character called Dominic Fortune, who, as his name suggests, is a roguish fortune hunter and all-round cad. Fortune was created by Howard Chaykin back in 1975, and went on to appear in the 2010 miniseries, Hawkeye And Mockingbird.
- Mark Cassidy
ABC newest superhero series, 'Marvel's Most Wanted,' just cast an incredible actor to play expert marksman and boxer, Dominic Fortune. 'Marvel's Most Wanted' recently got a pilot order at ABC. If it goes to series, it will feature the espionage adventures of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood). Deadline broke the news today that actor Delroy Lindo will be joining the series as Dominic Fortune. Lindo is a formidable actor who is known for his roles in "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "Malcolm X", and most recently "Blood and Oil" and "Believe". Lindo's character — Dominic Fortune — has had a long history in Marvel comics. He's currently over 100 years old but looks much younger due to a de-aging super soldier serum. In the comics, he spent time working with Nick Fury and The Avengers in early 1960s. »
- Lauren Gallaway
We have our first official casting announcement for Marvel and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.D. spin-off, which is currently being dubbed Marvel's Most Wanted. Delroy Lindo (Ransom, Blood & Oil, The Chicago Code, Kidnapped, Malcolm X, Get Shorty) will join the previously announced Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood as none other than Dominic Fortune - the Marvel Comics fortune hunter created back in 1975 by Howard Chaykin, who went on to feature in the 2010 miniseries, Hawkeye And Mockingbird. No details on how the character will be integrated into the story, but it's a safe bet he'll be an ally to our loved-up heroes. Marvel’s Most Wanted was created and written by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ep Jeffrey Bell and writer Paul Zbyszewski, with Jeph Loeb also on board as executive-producer. No premiere date has been set just yet. »
London — The 66th Berlin Film Festival has completed its Competition program, and has added Spike Lee’s satire “Chi-Raq” as an out-of-competition title. Among the world premieres added Wednesday are Lee Tamahori’s “The Patriarch” and Dominik Moll’s “News from Planet Mars.”
Eighteen of the 23 films in the Competition program will be vying for the Golden and Silver Bears; 19 films are world premieres. The awards ceremony will take place at the Berlinale Palast on Feb. 20.
The following films have been added to the Competition program lineup:
24 Wochen (24 Weeks)
By Anne Zohra Berrached (Two Mothers)
Chang Jiang Tu (Crosscurrent)
By Yang Chao (Passages)
With Qin Hao, Xin Zhi Lei
- Leo Barraclough
- Sasha Stone
Ricky Gervais was as sharp-tongued a host as ever and the guests included the cream of the world’s film and TV for the first awards show of the season. We followed every moment live
It was a night that started with a load of crass jokes, which then delivered its fair share of shocks before finishing with the familiar sight of Alejandro Inarritu holding a golden object over his head.
Branded as “the biggest party of the year” by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globe Awards are traditionally viewed as the fun, slightly tipsy cousin of Hollywood’s awards show circuit.
That didn’t lessen the delight of the team behind the night’s big biggest winner, The Revenant, which won a fleet of top prizes:, »
- Lanre Bakare and Alex Needham in New York, Nigel M Smith in Los Angeles
It’s one thing to achieve success; it’s more difficult to sustain it. But the trickiest feat is to use it smartly. On any of those standards, Denzel Washington is off-the-charts successful.
The winner of this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award has been a star for more than 30 years. He could have played it safe, picking roles that tap into his likability and charisma, and he still would have had a good career. But he has continued to surprise his fans by taking on more complex characters. He has also stretched himself by returning to the stage, and adding on the jobs of producer and director.
But the most impressive thing is that he’s used his clout to help others, both by giving major breaks to some talented (but struggling) artists and by quietly giving time, money and attention to philanthropies.
When the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. »
- Tim Gray
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