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Decenber 2002
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New York City could be first city in the nation to penalize anyone on a cell phone during a movie, concert or Broadway show. NYC is considering a bill that would impose a $50 fine on anyone who uses or fails to turn off a phone's ringer during an indoor performance, at any library, art gallery, movie theater, concert hall, etc.


Critics and actors are clamoring over Denzel Washington's incredible behind the camera work in his theatrical directorial debut, "Antwone Fisher." Washington also stars in the Fox Searchlight film with newcomer Derek Luke. Fellow co-star Joy Bryant also lauded Washington's directorial abilities, telling Variety that Washington urged the cast to "just be real" and "stressed the importance of 'not acting' but of being, of exuding your character, and thereby being true to Antwone's story." The film is so powerful and moving, Washington told The New York Times he actually cried reading an early draft of the screenplay. "What I read the first time ... I mean there are tears still on the pages. Whether it was a screenplay or whatever, it was the truth." The real Fisher, 43, a former security guard at Sony Pictures, wrote the screenplay.


Starting next June, Toni Braxton will play the Broadway lead in the Elton John and Tice Rice musical "Aida." Braxton last appeared on Broadway several years ago in the musical "Beauty & The Beast."


After his successful big screen debut in "Like Mike," Columbia recording teen rapper Bow Wow is now in talks with the WB network to star in a comedy series. His current small screen credits include MTV's "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" and guest appearances on UPN's "Moesha" and the WB's "The Steve Harvey Show."


The LA Times reports that comedian/actor Chris Tucker is putting his San Fernando Valley home up for sale at just under $2.2 million. Tucker is the original owner of the house, which was built in 1995. The home has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a loft office, a family room with a wet bar, a master suite with verandahs, a steam shower, two walk-in closets, a kitchen with a walk-in pantry, three fireplaces, a gated courtyard, a three car garage with direct access into the house. It totals more than 6,300 square feet of living space. The home, which also has city and golf course views, sits on nearly an acre with a pool and a spa.


Emmy award-winning director, actress and playwright Vinnette Carroll, the first African-American woman to direct a Broadway production and to bring gospel music to Broadway, has died of complications from diabetes and heart disease. In her career, Jamaica-born Carroll starred on television, stage and film, including the title role in the television movie about Sojourner Truth. Carroll directed the production "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope" in 1972 and she founded Urban Arts Corp. of New York. She also created the Broadway show "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God." She was supervising a Broadway-bound version of that play at that time of her death. Carroll was 80 years old.


Singer, actort and husband of Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown has been arrested ... again. Atlanta police charged him last month for drug and traffic violations. Brown was arrested for speeding and found to have no license or proof of insurance. Police did find less than an ounce of marijuana, though. Admitting he was caught-cold, he said, "It was only a little bit." Brown, 33, raised bail and was released, but was taken to nearby DeKalb County to face charges in yet another, though unrelated case.


Spike Lee was honored last month by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for being "one of the most influential and important directors of our time." The organization gave Lee the award after academy members had the chance to interview the famed director. The academy released a statement saying: "Spike Lee is inspiring to a generation of filmmakers." Previous recipients of the award include Audrey Hepburn and Dame Peggy Ashcroft.


People magazine has selected actor Ben Affleck as its "Sexiest Man Alive" for 2002. Other People picks included Will Smith, Keenan Ivory Wayans, "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell, Kirk Franklin, Leonard DiCaprio, Prince Harry, and Ben Stiller among others.


RThe Hollywood Reporter's 11th annual Women in Entertainment Power 100 list is out and the top ten ladies on the list are:
1. Sherry Lansing, chairman of the Motion Picture Group, Paramount Pictures Corp.
2. Stacey Snider, chairman, Universal Pictures
3. Amy Pascal, vice chairman, Sony Pictures
4. Nancy Tellem, president, CBS Entertainment
5. Michele Anthony, exec. vp, Sony Music Entertainment
6. Gail Berman, president of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Co.
7. Susan Lyne, president, ABC Entertainment
8. Oprah Winfrey, chairman, Harpo Entertainment; host, Harpo Entertainment Group and Harpo Prods.
9. Judy McGrath, president, MTV Networks Music Group
10. Carole Black, president and CEO, Lifetime Entertainment Services


Keyboardist Johnny Griffith, a member of the famed Funk Brothers, who were the unheralded Motown Records studio musicians, died last month. He was 66. A Detroit native, Griffith was scheduled to attend the Detroit premiere of "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," a documantary made to bring long-awaited recognition to the Funk Brothers studio band, but he died from a heart attack. With Griffith's death, there are just six surviving members of the 13 original Funk Brothers, many of whom were hand-picked by Motown founder Berry Gordy from Detroit's jazz club scene.


Destiny's Child, Spike Lee, Pam Grier, Dr. "J" Julius Erving, Vernon Jordan and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee will be among the honorees at Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s 2003 Trumpet Awards. The ceremony will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Monday, Jan. 6, at 6 p.m. TBS Superstation will present coverage of the event on Saturday, Feb. 22, 7pm (ET)/8:30 pm (PT). The Trumpet Awards honor African-Americans in fields as diverse as law, politics and entertainment. Special to this year's event is the new American Hero Award, being given to Lt. Col. Marilyn Wills, who was instrumental in pulling victims from the fire following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.


During a recent interview with Essence Magazine, Academy Award winner Halle Berry admits that she was going through marital strife while receiving her greatest career award. Berry said she decided to talk about the rough times she and musician husband Eric Benet are experiencing to help other women who are walking through the same "emotional maze." "The truth is that during the period of my most significant public success -- the Academy Awards -- my private life faced a staggering crisis," she told Essence. "All romantic relationships suffer crisis; no woman can claim otherwise," she said.


Rapper/actor Coolio finished his third USO tour last month. During the trip, Coolio performed and visited with troops in Kosovo, where he signed autographs, took photos, and ate with troops in an effort to boost morale. "I perform for soldiers because they are important," Coolio said in a statement. "They are willing to die in order for me to be able to do the things I do everyday ... for my kids to be able to go to school, and to be free. I just think it's my responsibility as a human being and an entertainer to see the soldiers."


Actor Danny Glover recently received the Marian Anderson Award for his work as an artist and a humanitarian who has fought for causes ranging from abolition of the death penalty to fighting AIDS. The award is named for the first black person to perform at the White House. The first recipient of the award was Harry Belafonte in 1998, followed by Gregory Peck in 1999, Elizabeth Taylor in 2000 and Quincy Jones in 2001.


Oprah Winfrey shocked a community college audience recently when she offered to donate $600,000 for a scholarship. Keynote speaker at Cuyahoga Community College scholarship luncheon, Winfrey made the offer to match the money raised at the event. "All that I am or will ever become is because of my spiritual foundation and my educational foundation," Winfrey said in an AP report. Students and staff at the two-year institution were all equally stunned and grateful.


While Michael Jackson is upset over the $21 million lawsuit by his longtime promoter over two millennium concerts, it seems the singer/actor is equally peeved at a court photographer regarding pictures taken during his breach of contract trial. He even showed up late to court on day two of the trial, waiting for his lawyers to make sure the photographer was not in the courtroom. Jackson was upset because a shot the photographer took inside the courtroom made it's way around the Internet and several publications, with comments about Jackson's over-plasticised face. While the judge called the photographer into chambers, he did not ban him from the courtroom. No more courtroom photos of Jackson have shown up.


Rapper and actress Queen Latifah was arrested in LA last month for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol, a California Highway Patrol official said. "Once they had made contact, they found that she was under the influence It was a routine arrest " he said.


Actor Danny Glover is in Trinidad to film the first episode of the television show "Hot Spot." The 10-episode Showtime series explores HIV/AIDS and children in to show the struggles of kids living with AIDS around the world.


In a setback to the motion picture industry's efforts to halt online piracy, the California Supreme Court has ruled that a man in Texas can not be sued in California for the Internet posting of a so-called DeCSS program that cracks the industry's digital code for preventing DVDs from being copied. In a 4-3 ruling, the court held that Matthew Pavlovich could be sued only in his home state of Texas or in Indiana, where he was attending Purdue University at the time he posted the decoding program. The court observed that Pavlovich's website "merely posts information and has no interactive features. There is no evidence in the record suggesting that the site targeted California. Indeed, there is no evidence that any California resident ever visited, much less downloaded, the DeCSS source code." The court added, "Pavlovich may still face the music -- just not in California."


Actress Vanessa L. Williams will star in a new comedy series about a theater actress who returns to her hometown to teach high school drama. The project is set for NBC and will be the actress-singer's first TV series. Williams will also be co-executive producer.


Miss Cleo's court embattled psychic line has agreed to pay the federal government $5 million in fines to settle claims by the FTC regarding deceptive advertising, billing and collection practices. The oft' sued Miss Cleo has been the butt of many movie one-liners in recent times.


R&B diva and actress Whitney Houston is going public to help launch her "Just Whitney," album scheduled to go on sale this month. After some trying times -- including the infamous marijuana bust in Hawaii, her unheatlhy appearance at the Michael Jackson concert, being married to bad boy Bobby Brown and the fact that she's getting older, Arista Records, which has millions invested in her, is making sure that you're going to be seeing a lot of her. In addition to visiting radio stations, doing interviews and making public appearances. She taped the European MTV Music Video Awards last Thursday and recently sat down with ABC's Diane Sawyer where she spoke frankly about drugs, weight loss and her marriage to Bobby Brown. Houston also claims that during her troubles, she felt she was "dead."


The photo taken of Michael Jackson in a California courtroom recently even has plastic surgeons talking, and according to many of them, there is nothing Jackson can do to restore his looks. "His nose is more collapsed than it ever was," Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Fleming said in a Reuters article. "That's also consistent with the fact he's been walking around wearing surgical masks in recent times. I would never go back and do work on Michael Jackson's nose ... it is just too risky."
"What he's done is to go from a Negroid or black nose, which is round and broad and flat, to a Caucasian nose that's narrow and projecting," said Dr. Harvey Zarem a former chief of plastic surgery at the University of California at Los Angeles, in an LA Times interview. "To do that, you have to put cartilage or silicone or bone in the nose like a tent stake to make the nose stick out. But when you do that enough, the cartilage or silicone or bone pokes through." – Ouuch!!


A 15-year-old girl has been charged with the murder of actor Merlin Santana. The teenager was also charged with the attempted murder of a man who was with Santana, district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said. The girl's identity was not released because she is a minor. Authorities, however, don't believe the girl pulled the trigger, but was the driver of the getaway car. Los Angeles police have also arrested Damien Gates, 20, and Brandon Bynes, 23, both from LA for investigation of murder. Both men had handguns at the time of their arrest and are being held without bail. Long time star on the "The Steve Harvey Show," Santana also appeared in the Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro movie "Showtime." He was shot to death on Saturday, November 9, while sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked in south Los Angeles. Police say the incident started as a verbal exchange that escalated to the shooting. They don't believe the actor did anything physical to provoke the shooter.


Black Enterprise magazine recently announced its list of Top 50 Black Power Brokers in Entertainment. The list includes Denzel Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Kedar Massenburg and other professionals, executives, and entrepreneurs who wield the most power and influence in show business. Those chosen have the ability to develop content, negotiate and sign off on deals, oversee the production process, control budgets, and hire and fire talent. Roughly 50% of these power brokers are entrepreneurs who own their own record label, production company, artist management, business, or law firm. The complete story appears in December's Black Enterprise.


Authorities in New York City fear a new, more violent element is infiltrating the multi-million dollar black market DVD hustle there. An armed robber shot Guinean immigrant Ablia Diallo to death last month in a midtown Manhattan office that was stuffed with counterfeit CDs and DVDs, including recent releases "8 Mile" and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," police said. In July, gunmen robbing a bootleg video business near the Empire State Building opened fire, wounding two West African immigrants working there. While police have not linked the two shootings, investigators fear violence more typical of the drug trade is now moving into what had been a low-risk illegal business.


The U.S. Naval Academy has seized computers from the dorm rooms of about 100 students, claiming that they contained illegally downloaded movies and music. The raid on the dorms was carried out while the midshipment were attending class and were prompted by letters the Naval Academy had received from several entertainment industry trade groups including the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. Academy spokesman Cmdr. Bill Spann said that punishment for illegally possessing copyrighted material could range from a court-martial to loss of leave.