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DuVernay, ‘black-ish,’ ‘Power’ win at NAACP Image Awards

The Free Press WV

A jubilant Ava DuVernay was named entertainer of the year at an NAACP Image Awards ceremony that focused on the black community’s power to create change.

DuVernay lauded other black artists from the stage as she accepted her award, naming writers and directors such as Shonda Rhimes, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Kenya Barris and “Black Panther” Ryan Coogler.

“This is our time,” DuVernay said. “We can say we were here when all this gorgeous art was happening, and that we supported it — that we lifted each other up, that we did as Dr. King said we would do: Live the dream. We’re the dream.”

Anthony Anderson hosted the ceremony at the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, on what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 89th birthday. While his politically tinged monologue poked fun at the presidential administration and Omarosa Manigault, others used their time onstage to encourage more civic involvement and the fight for social justice.

Producer Will Packer took a dig at President Donald Trump’s recent comments about immigration as the producer accepted an award for “Girls Trip,” which won for outstanding film.

“Sisters, especially the ones from Haiti and Africa, we love you as your brothers,” he said.

Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laverne Cox, Jurnee Smollet-Bell, Lena Waithe and Angela Robinson set the tone for the evening when they emerged onstage holding hands to dramatically issue a get-out-the-vote call.

The six women declared support for the Time’s Up initiative to stop sexual harassment and gender discrimination and urged viewers to speak up at the polls as well.

“The midterms are a perfect moment for us to use our voices,” Robinson said. “If we can take back a senate seat in Alabama…”

“Then we have the ability to shift the imbalance of power,” Smollet-Bell said.

Barris’ show “black-ish” was the night’s big winner. The ABC hit was named best comedy series and took acting honors for stars Ross and Anderson.

“It’s an extraordinary thing to be able to show what a beautiful black family looks like on television,” Ross said as the cast accepted the comedy series honor.

“Power” was named best drama series, and star Omari Hardwick won for dramatic actor.

Other winners included “Gifted” actress Octavia Spencer and “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson, who were both absent, and Daniel Kaluuya, who won for his leading role in “Get Out.”

The British actor was clearly delighted at his victory.

“I don’t think you’re allowed to beat Denzel Washington in acting competitions,” said Kaluuya, who bested Washington for the prize. The 28-year-old actor thanked his mom and “Get Out” writer-director Jordan Peele.

“So many people didn’t believe in me, and you did, and you made all of us feel included,” Kaluuya said. “Thank you so much for letting us be seen.”

NAACP president Derrik Johnson asked viewers to text in their pledge to vote in 2018 before presenting the President’s Award to Danny Glover.

Glover was recognized for his professional and philanthropic contributions, particularly his work with the United Nations and his advocacy for labor unions.

Glover spoke specifically of a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, where 80 percent of employees are black, that has yet to organize.

“Civil rights and labor rights have always been one and the same,” he said.

The special awards provided some of the night’s most poignant moments.

Halle Berry talked about the significance of presenting the NAACP Image Awards on Martin Luther King Jr. day.

“We need to take heed to his eloquent words: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,’” she said. “Today is an affirmation that we will never ever, ever, ever be silent again.”

She presented the Music Makes a Difference award to Charlie Wilson, who talked about his road from addiction and homelessness to musical success and philanthropy.

He said he prayed and promised that if he could survive the streets, he would return to serve others. Wilson said Monday that he has been sober for 22 years and is focused on helping homeless addicts.

Labor organizer William Lucy received the Chairman’s Award for his more than 40 years of service. Beyond his union leadership, Lucy was also an activist who fought apartheid in South Africa.

He dedicated his award to the Memphis sanitation workers who went on strike in 1968, several of whom were in the audience at the Image Awards. King spoke to the striking employees the night before he was assassinated.

Another arresting moment in the show came during singer Andra Day’s chilling performance of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Rapper Common joined her for their song “Stand Up for Something,” and the whole audience rose to its feet.

Early winners at the 49th NAACP Image Awards

The Free Press WV

Early winners at the 49th NAACP Image Awards, as announced a pre-telecast gala dinner in Pasadena, California:


FILM

Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture: Idris Elba, “THOR: Ragnarok”

Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture: Tiffany Haddish, “Girls Trip”

Independent Motion Picture: “Detroit”

Documentary: “STEP”

Writing: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”

Directing in a Motion Picture: Jordan Peele, “Get Out”


MUSIC

New Artist: SZA

Male Artist: Bruno Mars

Female Artist: Mary J. Blige

Duo, Group or Collaboration: Kendrick Lamar feat. Rihanna

Jazz Album: “Petite Afrique,” Somi

Gospel/Christian Album: “Greenleaf Soundtrack Volume 2,” Greenleaf Soundtrack

Music Video/Visual Album: “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars

Song - Traditional: “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars

Album: “DAMN.,” Kendrick Lamar

Song - Contemporary: “HUMBLE.,” Kendrick Lamar


TELEVISION

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Jay Ellis, “Insecure”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Marsai Martin, “’black-ish”

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Joe Morton, “Scandal”

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Naturi Naughton, “Power”

Television Movie, Limited, Series or Dramatic Special: “The New Edition Story”

Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special: Idris Elba, “Guerrilla”

Actress in a Television Movie, Limited, Series or Dramatic Special: Queen Latifah, “Flint”

Directing in a Comedy Series: Anton Cropper, “’black-ish”

Directing in a Dramatic Series: Carl Franklin, “13 Reasons Why”

Directing in a Television Movie or Special: Allen Hughes, “The Defiant Ones”

News/information Series or Special: “Unsung”

Documentary: “The 44th President: In His Own Words”

Talk Series: “The Real”

Reality Program/Reality Competition Series: “The Manns”

Variety or Game Show Series or Special: “Lip Sync Battle”

Children’s Program: “Doc McStuffins”

Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited Series): Caleb McLaughlin, “Stranger Things”

Host in a Talk or News/Information Series or Special: Roland Martin, “News One Now”

Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety Series or Special: LL Cool J, “Lip Sync Battle” (Spike)

Character Voice-Over Performance: Tiffany Haddish, “Legends of Chamberlain Heights”

Writing in a Comedy Series: Janine Barrois, “Claws

Writing in a Dramatic Series: Gina Prince-Bythewood, “Shots Fired”

Writing in a Television Movie or Special: Abdul Williams, “The New Edition Story”


LITERATURE

Fiction: “The Annotated African American Folktales,” Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Editor),Maria Tatar (Editor), (Liveright Publishing Corporation)

Non-Fiction: “Defining Moments in Black History: Reading Between the Lies,” Dick Gregory

Debut Author: “No One Is Coming to Save Us,” Stephanie Powell Watts

Biography or Autobiography: “Becoming Ms. Burton, From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women,” Susan Burton and Cari Lynn

Instructional: “The Awakened Woman: Remembering & Reigniting our Sacred Dreams,” Dr. Tererai Trent

Poetry: “Incendiary Art: Poems,” Patricia Smith

Children: “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History ,” Vashti Harrison

Youth and Teens: “Clayton Byrd Goes Underground,” Rita Williams-Garcia, author and Frank Morrison illustrator

‘American Idol’ says it wants to get back to making stars

The Free Press WV

“American Idol” wants to get back in the business of making stars.

The longtime talent show, which is being revived by ABC starting on March 11, faded in ratings and cultural significance over its last seasons on Fox before ending in 2016.

The memorable talents boosted by the show — Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert and the like — were all a part of the show’s heyday a decade earlier.

Ryan Seacrest is back as host of “American Idol,” but it will have three new judges in Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. They said on Monday they see themselves as mentors and instructors.

Challenged at a news conference to name the three final winners of “American Idol,” none of the cast members or producers attempted it. Bryan acknowledged that was a weakness of the show’s final years, and judges wanted to mold some memorable talent.

“We are wasting our time if we don’t find another star,” Perry said.

Richie said he’s been asked often to do instructional videos on making it in the music business and he always resisted, wondering how many people would be interested. But he realized he would be able to offer that advice as a judge on “American Idol.”

“A lot of our viewers will see themselves in some of these contestants,” Perry said. “They will relate and they will feel hope ... hopefully they can be inspired to achieve their own dreams.”

The judges said they saw themselves in the contestants because they were once there; Perry recalled the struggling days when frozen chicken nuggets from Trader Joe’s was her regular dinner.

Seacrest said the show’s format hasn’t changed. He said the new judging panel is working well together — as opposed to stars circling in their own orbits — and that was an important goal in the reboot.

No one has necessarily emerged as a “bad cop” along the lines of Simon Cowell. Producers indicated that was an outdated view of the show. “I’m blunt but I can’t be mean because I’m a woman,” Perry said.

Much like in the show’s final years, it wouldn’t focus on marginally talented contestants during tryouts so they would be humiliated on television, said Trish Kinane, the show’s executive producer.

The show will air on Sunday and Monday nights for eight weeks, then wind down to just Sunday when a new season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres. Then, “Idol” will have a two-night finale on May 20 and 21.

The reboot has caused some bad blood: Fox executives haven’t been happy that the show is coming back so soon and said that toward the end, producers wouldn’t work with them to reduce costs that would make the show more viable; producers at “American Idol” didn’t want Fox to cancel it in the first place.

Willie Nelson cancels shows after leaving a concert early

The Free Press WV

Country music legend Willie Nelson has canceled shows in Nevada and California after leaving a concert in San Diego after performing one song.

A publicist for Nelson says shows scheduled this week in Rohnert Park, California; Las Vegas; and Laughlin, Nevada, have been canceled. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Nelson left his show at a San Diego casino on Saturday after the first song, “Whiskey River.”

Fans told the newspaper that Nelson was coughing and apparently had difficulty breathing. A statement from Ticketmaster said he left the stage early because of an illness.

Nelson, 84, keeps up a rigorous touring and recording schedule. His latest album, “Willie Nelson and the Boys: Willie’s Stash Vol. 2” featuring his sons Lukas and Micah was released last year.

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