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Diana Ross: Red Hot Rhythm and Blues (1987)

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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Marty Schiff
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John David Bland
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20 May 1987 (USA)  »

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A Creative Salute to the Early History of Rhythm & Blues/Rock 'n Roll
20 September 2014 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Diana takes a creative journey to the origins of the modern day music history. In a wonderful sepia tone, the art direction stands out as a winning aspect of this special. She covers songs from the early 60s which reflected her formative years. "Tell Momma", "Sweet Soul Music" and "Twiddle Dee Twiddle Dumb" are particular highlights. With an array of guest stars from the late Etta James to Bernadette Peters to Little Richard to Wolfman Jack to L.L. Cool J and finally a reunion with Billy Dee Williams as lovers duetting on "Baby (You've Got What it Takes)". She soars during a beautiful reading of Leonard Bernstein's "Summertime". She is less successful in what almost seems like a parody of rap/hip hop with L.L. Cool J's "Cut Creator". While it is fascinating to take a ride through musical styles from doo wop to hip hop, it would have been better it she just allowed L.L. to do his thing and not look like an out of touch soccer mom, in an unintentional funny scene. That aside, her early ride through early 60s hits that were aforementioned comes off strong. Her acting during the scene capturing how the white music executive plagiarized rhythm & blues gets a big major kudos. Etta gives a stirring take on her classic "At Last" while Little Richard urges a young Diane Ross character through a spiritual take on "Ninety Nine and a Half". A lot was covered in an hour's time as she concludes with a very Divaseque "Tell Me Again" that closes the show. Simply divine!!! It came as little surprise that it garnered several Emmy nods and took a couple home. It is historic entertainment from a true global legend, Diana Ross....one of America's natural resources.


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