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June 2001
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IVAN ROGERS DONATES MEMORIAL

    On June 22, 2001, a memorial ceremony will be held to unveil a monument dedicated to the memory of child abuse victim Sylvia Likens and child abuse victims everywhere.
   Actor/director Ivan Rogers has donated a six-foot black granite monument (from India) for the ceremony which will bear an inscription of his verse to remind people of the need to be vigilant for children. Sylvia Likens was a 16-year old youth who was brutally tortured for months before her death.



WHOOPIE WINS KENNEDY PRIZE FOR HUMOR

   Whoopi Goldberg has won the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts fourth annual Mark Twain Prize for humor. "Our dear Mr. Twain put it best when he said 'Humor is the good-natured side of a truth," Goldberg said. In 1991, the actress won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in the movie "Ghost." The prize will be given Oct. 15 at a gala in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Proceeds will be used for the education of young humorists. Previous winners include Richard Pryor, in 1998, and in succeeding years went to Jonathan Winters and Carl Reiner.



PRINCE FINDS GOD

   Singer and part-time actor, Prince (or the artist formerly known as Prince) is now a Jehovah's Witness. In an interview with Gotham magazine, the artist made a stand against curse words and spoke out on the need for teens to have more God in their lives.
   "When you use those words, you call up all the anger, all the negative times the word has been used before -- you bring it toward yourself. Why would you want that? When I look at the violence, I wonder where the parents are, but also where is God in their lives?''



RODMAN B-DAY PARTY INVITES COPS

   Former basketball star and sometime actor Dennis Rodman has once again annoyed his Newport Beach, California neighbors. Police were called to his home to shut down his 40th birthday bash after neighbors complained about an illegal helicopter landing and a live concert by two rock bands. About 300 people came to the party, with most of the guests spilling onto the public beach outside his home. In response, Rodman complained of harassment at a recent city council meeting, saying he'd been singled out in the matter of noise pollution. The council wasn't moved by his remarks though. They voted to tighten noise restrictions for the community, citing more than 50 times in the past year that police have been called to Rodman's popular beach house to quiet his party doings.



WORLD LOSES 'GRADY' AKA WHITMAN MAYO

   Veteran actor Whitman Mayo, best known as Grady from the show, "Sandford & Son," has died. Most recently, Mayo hosted Turner South's original weekly series Liars & Legends and served as Adjunct Professor at Clark Atlanta University instructing a film/theatre class. Mayo was 70.



FISHBURNE BREAKING HEARTS

   Female hearts are breaking around the world!
   Laurence Fishburne, has announced his engagement to girlfriend Gina Torres, star of Lifetime's "Any Day Now." But since no date has yet been set for the wedding, one lovelorn fan remarked "There's still hope. Maybe it won't happen." Yeah, right! From what's been seen of the loving couple in public, we wouldn't bet the farm on it.



JAY-Z CELEBRATES MOMS

   Rapper/actor Jay-Z (Sean Carter) paid tribute to mothers by hosting a catered dinner for 150 women from his old Brooklyn, NY neighborhood. Jay-Z said he felt compelled to give back to his community by honoring women who have been supportive and influential in his career. In addition, he gave away over $15,000 in cash prizes and held raffle drawings worth jackpots of $3000, $2000 and $1000, as well as presenting the women with floral baskets filled with bath & body products. He had a hug and warm kiss for his own mother and grandmother and Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash and R&B singer Aaliyah and Memphis Bleek were also on hand to honor the Moms.



HATTIE HONORED WITH DOCUMENTARY

   The first black to receive an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel, will being honored with an American Movie Classics documentary titled, "Beyond Tara, The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel." The show will air August 7, at 10:00 p.m. ET on cable's AMC. Whoopi Goldberg, the only other African American woman to win an Oscar, will narrate the hour-long special.
   Though McDaniel won the Academy Award in 1939 for her performance as Mammy in the film "Gone With The Wind," she was actually prohibited from attending the movie's premiere due to the racial climate of the time.
   At the time, the actress was often unfairly criticized for portraying servant roles in films, and even the NAACP even led a campaign against "Gone..." and McDaniel for perpetuating racial stereotypes, but McDaniel was all class when she defended herself against the attacks by saying, "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be one for $7.00 an hour."



DMX SAYS HOUSE SEARCH WAS ILLEGAL

   DMX, co-star of the recent Steven Segal film "Exit Wounds," went to court recently to face five counts of child endangerment and weapons offenses. But the rapper says police illegally searched his home and the charges should be thrown out.
   Launch reports that while investigating the shooting of DMX's manager, who was shot in the foot, police found a purse containing DMX's wife, Tashera Simmons', I.D. at the scene of the shooting. The police believed it was cause enough to obtain a warrant to search the rapper's home. While there, police found a loaded 9mm, six used cocaine pipes, and a large amount of ammunition.
   DMX and his wife were subsequently indicted in August for possession of the illegal material, but beyond those charges, police also maintain that the couple's son and daughter had to be present while DMX was using the drugs.
   DMX's lawyers are fighting the charges by arguing that the house was searched illegally.



WGA/AMPTP AGREEMENT REACHED

   Negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television producers announced a tentative agreement on a new three-year labor contract that will increase writers' payments by $41 million over the three-year term of the contract. The tentative agreement was approved unanimously by member companies of the AMPTP and by the WGA negotiating committee and is expected to be ratified overwhelmingly by the WGA's 11,500 members.
   "This is the most difficult negotiation we've had in many years because of the complexity of the issues facing us today in the industry," said AMPTP president Nick Counter. Mike Mahern, co-chair of the negotiating committee for the WGA, described the deal as "groundbreaking " for WGA members.
   Under the agreement, within two years, the Fox network will be characterized as a full-fledged network and pay full fees to writers, rather than the discounted rate reserved for new companies it had been paying. Over the term of the contract, writers will also see an increase in foreign TV residuals totaling about $1.3 million. Residuals for made-for-cable programs, like HBO's "The Sopranos" and "Sex in the City," that were less than$300,000 a year will increase to almost $4 million a year.
   Writers also scored victories in the area of creative rights, with producers agreeing to guidelines that allow writers to visit production sets during filming and ensuring that the original writer of a script will be consulted from now on whenever a new writer is hired for revisions. Discussions will also continue with the AMPTP and the DGA on the controversial director's "a film by" possessory credit that previously ignored a writer's contributions.



ABSOLUT VODKA JOINS FORCES WITH SPIKE

   Filmmaker Spike Lee has struck a deal with Absolut Vodka to launch a website called AbsolutDirector.com to help people learn film making. Visitors, over the age of 21, will be able to edit and produce a film by choosing and re-sequencing over 35 movie clips from '60s Japanese sci-fi flicks.
   "I've always tried to be a proponent of the demystification of film," Lee, told People magazine. "You don't have to be a filmmaker to do this. Anyone can do this as long as you are of age."



'CHEF' COOKS UP HOT NEW VENTURE

   Isaac Hayes, 'Chef' to Comedy Central's "South Park" fans, will team up with Memphis company Lifestyle Ventures and Minneapolis-based Famous Dave's of America, Inc. to create a new theme restaurant.
   Explaining the new venture, Hayes says, "Long before I became an entertainer, I developed a deep rooted love for creating tasty food."
   The concept will open two locations this year with the first in Chicago in June and the second in Isaac's home town of Memphis, Tennessee in late-summer. The menus will feature some of Hayes' favorite dishes, along with some of Famous Dave's award-winning BBQ offerings. The restaurants will also feature nightly entertainment, including performances by Hayes himself.



BERRY GOES TOPLESS

   Halle Berry defenders are denying rumors that the actress agreed to do a nude scene in "Swordfish" for extra cash. The scene was rumored to have a bonus of $500,000 for the actress if she agreed to bare it all.
   "There was never a signing bonus for her breasts," a spokesperson huffed indignantly.
   In actuality, Berry turned down the role at first, but after the nudity was toned down, she agreed to take on the role for a paycheck of $2.5 million.
   Regarding nudity in her acting, Berry says she's finally mature enough to be comfortable with a limited amount of that sort of thing in her acting at this point in her life and career.



BET FIGHTING A NUE DAY

   BET will soon have competition. Media giant AOL Time Warner and black-owned radio conglomerate Radio One are investing in New Urban Entertainment Television, a new cable network targeting African-American viewers. According to "Cable World," the deal was done when the companies contributed $67 million to the upstart channel and also agreed to distribution and promotional platforms. AOL Time Warner will promote NUE-TV on its Time Warner Cable systems, expecting to generate up to 10 million viewers within the year.
   BET said, "We welcome the idea of any network attempting to target the African-American audience. The value of that audience has long been overlooked by other networks, which is the basic idea on which BET was founded -- to provide news, information and entertainment from an African-American perspective." NUE-TV's founding backers include Quincy Jones and Leo Hindery Jr., among others.



WILL SMITH - AUTHOR! AUTHOR!

   Actor and devoted Dad, Will Smith, is now an author with the release of his children's book about a father and son's playful relationship called "Just The Two of Us." The book is in stores now.



BERRY AND WOMAN SETTLE OUT OF COURT

   The woman who sued actress Halle Berry in civil court over their auto accident has agreed to settle the case out of court. Berry was sued by Hetal Raythatha for negligence after their cars collided at a Los Angeles intersection in February, 2000. Both women were injured in the accident. On the city's side of the case, the actress pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of leaving the scene and was ordered to pay $13,500 in fines and to serve 200 hours of community service.



OPRAH ON THE ROAD

   Starting this month, Oprah is embarking on a "Live Your Best Life" tour. Cheryl Richardson, author of the best-selling "Life Makeovers'' and "Take Time for Your Life'' and a regular contributor on "The Oprah Winfrey Show,'' will be a special guest on the tour. Stops include: Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Minneapolis; San Francisco; and Baltimore. The tour will feature a one-day workshop with Winfrey, herself. The $185 cost of the workshop is an unbelievable value that includes breakfast and lunch.



NO MINORITIES IN HOLLYWOOD?

   According to census figures released in March, white's make up just 47% of California's population, marking the first time ever that they were not in the majority since the census began. Latinos accounted for 32%, Asians made up 11%, and Blacks 7%.
   "You have the fact that you have no ethnic majority now, so if you have no majority, what's minority?" Claremont McKenna College government professor Frederick R. Lynch asked the Associated Press.
   Webster's defines "minority" as less than 50%, and while the San Diego City Council has already voted to strike the term from all its official documentation, some in Hollywood fear the census figures may also be used as an excuse by networks and studios to defend their minority hiring practices, which recently received low marks from minority watchdog groups.
   Webster's aside, many believe the term 'minority' refers more appropriately to any disadvantaged group regardless of color and needs to be retained in official documents and hiring codes. Oddly enough, however, some 'minority' groups argue that the word is outdated and even refuse to use it because they claim it lumps ethnicity's together.
   While California, New Mexico, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia no longer have any majority group (per Webster's definition), the country as a whole is still predominantly white, and social scientists say the term is unlikely to disappear from our vocabulary anytime soon.



HOUSTON WINS BET LIFETIME AWARD

   Singer/actress Whitney Houston has been chosen as the recipient of Black Entertainment Television's inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. The BET Awards, honoring black achievement in the entertainment industry, include categories for best male group, best female group, best actor in a film, best actress in a film, best male hip-hop artist, best female hip-hop artist and male and female athletes of the year.



GOODING PROUD TO BE A TOKEN

   Cuba Gooding Jr. is in the World War II blockbuster "Pearl Harbor" but his role is hardly a large one.
   "Some people ask me why I did it," he told TV Guide. "I tell them it's because I got the opportunity to play another man who was important not just to black history, but American history. My part isn't [that] big, but I know it will affect people just the same."
   When asked about being the film's token black in the film, he replied, "If I am, I'm proud to be a token. I'd be a token on a subway if I thought it had some value. I'm representing the power of the human spirit that's indicative of the best in the men who gave their lives for our country."



MARIAH WORKING ON GLITTER SOUNDTRACK

   Mariah Carey has been working with Rick James on the soundtrack to her upcoming film "All That Glitters." The soundtrack will also feature a host of guest stars, who Carey says she'll reveal nearer the CD's August 21 release date. It is known that Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis have produced the majority of the album and sources say she is also working with Cameo on a cut as well.



CELEBS HELP AIDS RESEARCH

   The 'Until There's A Cure Foundation,' a non-profit organization that raises money to support HIV/AIDS organizations and vaccine development, announced that Destiny's Child, The Rock, actor Kevin Bacon, Mandy Moore, and other celebs will appear in public service announcements and magazine ads in support of AIDS research.
   "The new PSA campaign has a bolder, more soulful look which we are very excited about,'' said Jennifer Kockos, UTAC Communications director.
   In the ads, celebs will wear the UTAC fundraising bracelet, which can be purchased online at www.until.org, or nationwide at various retailers such as The Body Shop, Tower Records, Virgin Megastore, Ben Bridge Jewelers and Kenneth Cole.



WHOOPI ON THE ROAD AGAIN

   Whoopi Goldberg is headed back to her roots. For the first time in years, she's planning to spend the summer touring with a one-woman show. According to reports, the schedule is being finalized and the tour should start in June.



AMAZING GRACE CONSERVATORY INSTILLS PRIDE

   Established February 1, 1995, the 'Amazing Grace Conservatory' is a comprehensive theatrical training institute committed to "Building self-esteem through self-expression," for children and young adults ages 7 to 21.
   The AGC is the brain child of actress Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Steve Harvey Show) and fellow actress and best friend Tracey Coley.
   Robinson says, "Tracy and I founded the AGC about six years ago out of a need for artistic integrity in the community. What we wanted to do from the very beginning was to promote self-esteem in young people."
   The Conservatory, located in South Central Los Angeles, has been referred to as Julliard West, and is the training ground for some of the best young talent around.
   The AGC's popularity is growing so much that the Conservatory doesn't even need to advertise its services, which are only $35 a class.
   "They choose us," said Robinson. "It's a lot of word of mouth. A lot of referrals. Sometimes, if we're out at functions and we notice a young person with talent, we approach them ourselves."



BLACK STUNTMEN AND WOMEN HONORED

   The World Stunt Awards will honor Hollywood's stunt men and women at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica this month. Nominees were recognized for work on films that were released in 2000. Among the finalists are Roy T. Anderson, honored for his driving skills in John Singleton's "Shaft." Other blacks nominated are; Jalil Lynch "Shaft," Errol Gee, Lloyd Adams, Gaston Howard, Clay Fontenot, and Aubrie Culp for "Romeo Must Die." As well as Ernest Jackson "Reindeer Games," and Ron Robinson "Shanghai Noon."