I AM JFK JR.

imageAs we wrap up political party conventions and prepare to elect another President of the United States,  who can forget the only other administration that brought fun, class and Camelot to the nation's capital other than the Obamas.  John F. Kennedy had the potential to be one of our greatest and sadly never had the chance to find out.

Therefore, all of America waited for the little boy who saluted his Dad in death, JFK, JR, to pick up the torch where his Dad left off.  Sadly, we would never see that come to fruition.

JFK, Jr. is the only person who was recognizable from the back. As, I lay on the floor, struggling to do one more sit-up with my medicine ball, I spotted him by the water cooler in the gym where I trained. Needless to say, I had to get some water, right??!!! Well, I damn near knocked him down trying to get a closer look to the closest thing America had to a real live Prince. As we bumped, he turned with that gleaming smile and said "hello". I profusely apologized for practically tackling him like a linebacker. He graciously let me know that it wasn't a big deal, asked my name, said it was nice to meet and then left. Did I dream it? Nope!!! He was the adored son of America's most glamorous president and was considered by many to be "America's Prince". Despite living under the media microscope for his entire life, JFK Jr. forged his own successful career - from serving as the Assistant District Attorney of New York to launching the glossy political magazine, George. July marks the anniversary month of his tragic death. Network Entertainment and Spike TV give us a glimpse into the compelling life of John F. Kennedy Jr. through a distinctive lens of many people who knew him well, from A-list celebrities to close friends and staffers who worked closely with him at George magazine, in the original documentary film, "I AM JFK Jr." on Monday, August 1 at 9:00pm ET/PT. "I AM JFK JR." features interviews with John F. Kennedy Jr.'s friends ranging from the famous, like Robert De Niro and Cindy Crawford, to the controversial, like Mike Tyson and Larry Flynt; from media stars like Christiane Amanpour, Chris Cuomo, Paul Begala and Ann Coulter, to close friends like Grateful Dead songwriter John Perry Barlow, Sasha Chermayeff, Richard Wiese, Chris Oberbeck, Brian Steel, John Hare, New York restaurateur Richie Notar, John's Chief of Staff RoseMarie Terenzio, and colleagues at John's pioneering George magazine, Gary Ginsberg and Matt Berman. Michael Reagan and author Doug Wead talk about the difficulties and strange destinies of presidential children, actor Kristoffer Polaha talks about the man he would one day play on-screen, while authors Christopher Andersen and Laurence Leamer offer background on the life of America's most famous family. The day his plane tragically went down, myself and a friend had taken the train to the beach and stopped for a bite to eat on the way back. On the telly, was the news that the plane holding him, his new bride and her sister was missing. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that the so-called Kennedy curse had claimed another one of its beloved members. Sadly, I would be right. This is a man who was famous from the minute he hit the earth for absolutely nothing other than being a Kennedy. No other human on the planet had ever endured such media scrutiny. Not even some of the biggest stars on the planet. Can you even imagine what kind of pressure leading that type of existence felt like? Most of us will never know, but he did and always handled it with such a calm, graceful spirit. "I AM JFK JR. comes to Digital HD on August 2nd and was released on a limited basis in selected theaters beginning July 20th. It's nostalgic, heartwarming, heartbreaking and a lesson to us all to live life to its fullest as you never know when your time may be up.

AM JFK., JR TRAILER

 

 

Kevin Willmott

The “Destination Planet Negro” Interview with Kam Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Snapshot of Willmott

Kevin Willmott grew up in Junction City, Kansas and received his BA in Drama from Marymount College in Salina, Kansas. After graduation, he returned home and worked as a peace and civil rights activist, fighting for the rights of the poor, creating two Catholic Worker shelters for the homeless, and forcing the integration of several, long-standing segregated institutions.

Kevin did his graduate studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, receiving several writing awards and an MFA in Dramatic Writing. He subsequently wrote, produced, and co-directed Ninth Street, an independent feature film starring Martin Sheen and Isaac Hayes.

The movie is a dramedy based on Kevin's own experiences in Junction City, a tiny town adjacent to Fort Riley. Set in 1968, the film deals with the last days of one of the most notorious streets in the nation.

At the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, he screened C.S.A., The Confederate States of America, a mockumentary speculating about what the United States would be like had the South won the Civil War. The picture was picked up by IFC Films and was also a Spike Lee presentation.

Kevin has also directed The Battle for Bunker Hill, the Only Good Indian and Jaywalkers. And, earlier this year, he co-wrote Chi-Raq with Spike Lee. Besides making movies, Kevin is a Professor of Film Studies at the University of Kansas. Here, he talks about writing, directing and starring in his latest offering, Destination Planet Negro.

 

Kevin Willmott

 

Kam Williams: Hi Kevin, thanks for another interview.

Kevin Willmott: My pleasure, Kam.

KW: As you know, I loved Destination Planet Negro. Where did you come up with the idea of combining a spoof of sci-fi movies from the Fifties while simultaneously making some thought-provoking statements about race relations?

Kevin: I liked those old, silver bullet, rocket ship movies that we watched on The Late, Late Show as kids in the Sixties. The title of the picture comes from the film Destination Moon. Another influence is Rocketship XM. The kind of sci-fi I like is the type that makes a social statement, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. So, I tried to combine the two elements, paying homage to those rocket ship films while giving it meaning by dealing with racism, past and present. As well, when President Obama was elected, I thought a lot about my parents and what they would have said had they witnessed his election. My father was born in 1898 in Mississippi and was 60 years old when I was born. When I was a kid, we often joked about how a black president could never happen. So, I wanted to deal with that reality about how far we have come in America and how far we still need to go in terms of race. In many ways, that also shaped my reasons for making CSA- Confederate States of America. For me, I am always trying to find a plot that allows me the opportunity to tackle issues I’m interested in exploring.

KW: The film walks a line back and forth between serious and farce. How do you decide when to go for the joke and when to be serious?

Kevin: You try to experience the film as you are writing it. There is a rhythm and tempo that develops between humor and drama as you move forward. Humor is the base coat of the film, and then you are looking for opportunities to bring forth the serious elements that inform the comedy. You want the serious moments to be organic and not feel forced. In that sense it all becomes somewhat instinctual.

KW: This is your first starring role. What made you decide to play Dr. Avery?

Kevin: In my first film, Ninth Street I also played one of the leads. I started out wanting to act and be a standup comedian. I was obsessed with Richard Pryor. I knew in writing the film I would have a very limited budget. In that sense playing one of the leads makes producing the film a lot easier. I also knew I was available and willing. As well, I probably wouldn’t be too difficult.

KW: What message do you hope people will take away from the film?

Kevin: I hope people will see how important every moment in history really is in terms of how past injustice and discrimination affects our daily lives. I wanted to have the audience contemplate how bad racism was in the past and how complicated it is to identify and fight today. I think the film shows how we aren’t in a post-racial society and perhaps the race problems we have today are even more completed, in terms of the response, than those of the past.

KW: What's up next for you?

Kevin: I am finishing a film, The Association, starring Scot Pollard who was recently a contestant on Survivor. Scot was a former KU basketball player and had a long career in the NBA. The film deals with the underbelly of college and pro sports and how many athletes end up broke at the end of their career.

KW: Which do you enjoy more, filmmaking or teaching?

Kevin: I was a filmmaker first, and that is why they hired me at Kansas University. I also love teaching. For me, I see the two professions, on the whole, as entirely interconnected.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to direct?

Kevin: No, I don’t care for remakes as a whole. I think we should remake films that had a great concept but didn’t quite work. Maybe it’s the script doctor in me.

KW: Larry Greenberg asks: Do you have a favorite movie monster?

Kevin: Godzilla and King Kong. I loved the original King Kong vs. Godzilla. I saw that old movie in the theater as a kid.

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?

Kevin: I have a vague memory of drinking my bottle at church. I think it’s because I took a bottle far longer than I should have. [LOL] I also have a vague memory of seeing the film, The Ten Commandments. All I can remember was the vivid colors.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

Kevin: My mother and father were great! I also was lucky to have terrific role models. Including a man that lived in our basement, Ralph Starks. He was a former Buffalo Soldier and had served in Italy during World War II. He taught me many lessons and was like a second father. My mother was a real entertainer and was very funny I think I get that side of myself from her. My father was a very hard worker and I get my work ethic from him.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?

Kevin: Yes, I have been very fortunate to have had many people in my life lead me on a positive spiritual journey.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?

Kevin: Never give up

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Kevin: My father’s son.

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?

Kevin: I was the leader of a small revolutionary gang during race riots in high school. I was expelled and then attended a Catholic high school where a priest took me under his wing and encouraged me to go to college and to become a filmmaker.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

Kevin: For everybody to have enough money to live a decent life.

KW: The Sanaa Lathan question: What excites you?

Kevin: The beautiful lady in my life.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Kevin: Hamburgers and French fries. I eat far too much of both.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

Kevin: Plenty of receipts from traveling and lunches.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Kevin, and best of luck with the film.

Kevin: Thank you, Kam.

To see a trailer for Destination Planet Negro, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXHmOxa0wX4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HBO's CONFIRMATION

Review by Carla Renata for UBNRadio.com and CarlaRenatasCorner.com File_002 Separate but equal is a phrase often synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement. However, the phrase took on a very different meaning when it came to the Clarence Thomas hearings, in which a college professor, Anita Hill accused the future Supreme Court justice of sexual harassment. The hearings was so intense and popular that even SNL parodied them with a skit in which Chris Rock introduces himself as "long dong silver".

Sexual harassment is no laughing matter. Having been in this situation with a former boss and a former colleague, I can testify that as a woman you are frightened. Frightened that you will be called a liar. Frightened that your reputation will be forever tarnished. Frightened that your own self-respect comes into question. Most of all, you are frightened that if you tell or speak up that the person you are accusing will come for you not just emotionally, but physically. No people sexual harassment is not laughing matter or a day at the beach.

Unfortunately, Anita Hill found this out the hard way. Her reputation was tarnished. Hill lost her job, friends and the respect of some her colleagues. What she did not lose was her dignity and self-respect. In addition, she gained thousands of admirers. You see, she became the face for those who were afraid and her actions now gave them to the courage to no longer sit back and remain a victim. The number of women that became elected to political office after those hearings was staggering and now America finds herself in a position to actually elect a woman as President of the United States. My,,,how times have changed...sort of. We still have Clarence Thomas who I wouldn't be surprised is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. The thought of it all make me cringe.

HBO's "Confirmation" takes us back to that time when Anita accused, Thomas denied and hearings were led by now Vice-President Joe Biden.

Kerry Washington as Anita Hill is spectacular. She is much more contained than her character on ABC's "Scandal" and nails the vocal nuances of Hill's emotionally cracked voice, as well as, the grace, quiet fire and subtly when Hill finally does let her veneer armour crack. Washington may finally get that Emmy that has eluded her thanks to this polished performance.

As we know, Olivia Pope on Scandal is loosely based on Judy Smith, a "crisis management expert". Interestingly enough, Smith was White House Press Secretary for the George H. Bush administration and played a rather large role in countering Anita Hill's claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas in the media. I guess all that suffices to say that Washington was born to inhabit this role.

Wendell Pierce, often known for being the cherubic comedic relief in many of his projects (Remember him in "Waiting to Exhale" or on the CBS sitcom The Odd Couple?), plays Thomas with an iciness that is reminiscent of the Supreme Court justice seen during that time. Pierce might want to polish off his mantle for a little gold as well.

File_001 (1)

Director Rick Famuyiwa and Writer Susannah Grant compliment and enhance each other's strengths. Grant, known for writing numerous projects where women are at the forefront (Erin Brockovich, Pocahontas, Ever After, In Her Shoes), is the perfect off-screen partner for Fumuyiwa, who has written about the African-American experience from every vantage point ranging from the hip hop world to interracial marriage to coming of age stories (Dope, The Wood, Brown Sugar). Together, they make "Confirmation" very enjoyable and educational to watch for those who weren't privy to watching this in real time.

As we now know, Thomas and Hill's refusal to continue testimony brought the hearings to a screeching halt and allowed Thomas to be sworn in as a Supreme Court justice. Anita Hill became popular on the lecture circuit and continues to inspire women all over the world.

If you don't have HBO and are not able to catch "Confirmation" check out this documentary on Anita Hill and the review I wrote up on it...

Review: ANITA (Anita Hill Documentary)

Anita Hill

Here is the trailer for CONFIRMATION

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHIvZuypso4

HIGH STRUNG

Highstrung Before American Idol, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, Glee and even those now defunct reality show looking for their next Broadway lead ...there was FAME.

Who can forget that famous scene on W. 46th Street where the kids danced on top of taxi's during their lunch break, or how Leroy went to the audition with his friend and he got into the School of Performing Arts, or those famous words of Lydia Grant aka Debbie Allen..."You want FAME, well FAME costs...and right here is where you start paying in sweat..."

Well, baby now Young & The Restless star Michael Damian brings us an updated, hit-charged version called "High Strung".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Xi1yEDN7U

Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa) has come to the city to begin her scholarship at the famed MCA, considered to be one of the toughest performing arts schools in the country.  While waiting for the subway, she stumbles upon a brooding violinist Johnnie Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine) and a fight to the finish between two dance crews on the platform.

These two discover, not only are they attracted to each other, but both have obstacles to overcome, in addition to them both not fitting in.  Ruby desperately needs to hold onto her scholarship and Johnnie is facing deportation when they join forces with the SwitchSteps to win a contest that would solve both their issues.

Baby, the results are amazing and make for a very entertaining, high energy, emotional and fantabulous ride thanks to Director/Writer Michael Damian.

I would be remiss in not giving a massive hand of applause to Choreographer - Dave Scott. His choreography and the dancers he chose to execute his imaginatively, warped sense of melting street with classical is mind-blowing!  It made my knees and back hurt just to watch...lol!!  Back in the day, I started out as a dancer and am amazed every day at how complex and technical it has all become.  I wouldn't stand a ghost of a chance against these dolls at an open call nowadays.  Surely, I would be annihilated within the first few seconds of a combination.

There were many battles that I adored, but the two that stick out in my mind the most are the battle between Johnnie and Kyle at a high society fundraiser and the battle of the best crew on the subway platform.  Both are absolutely genius.

Ruby Adams is very natural and an amazingly flexible dancer.  Her sidekick, Sunoya  Mizuno as Ruby's roomie Jazzy is hilarious and will remind every one of that one girl in college who just "wanted to have fun".  However, Nicholas Galitzine has "it" and is very reminiscent of a young 21 Jump Street Johnny Depp.  He commands the screen every time the camera catches his face.  Knowing that Jane Seymour started out as a dancer and did her thing a few seasons back on Dancing With The Stars, it was such a pleasant surprise to see her be the "Lydia Grant" of this film.

I will leave you with a few quotes and some red carpet footage from the premiere at the Hollywood Chinese theatre that should keep your minds lubricated until you hit a theatre on April 8th to check out High Strung

"See the music...heart the dance..."  -  George Balanchine

"Dancers DANCE no matter what"!

"Music, like dance , is a link to the soul"

"it's the imperfections that keep us alive"

https://youtu.be/J7ZTn0Q8H1E

Top Ten DVD List for 3-15-16

AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION NAMES STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON AS TOP FILM OF 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

NAMES STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON AS TOP FILM OF 2015

Will Smith, Teyonah Parris and Ryan Coogler Also Receive Wins from the Nation’s Premiere African American Critics Group

The Danish Girl and Mad Max: Fury Road also take key honors

7th

Los Angeles, CA (December 7, 2015) – Movies that reflect the revolutionary undercurrent running through society dominated this year’s voting for the 7th AAFCA Awards. Straight Outta Compton, the surprise summer box office hit centered on the 90’s rap group N.W.A., captured an overwhelming majority of the votes cast by members of the association. The Universal Pictures film earned multiple awards for Best Picture, Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor for Jason Mitchell, who portrayed the group’s founder, Eazy E. Awards were also given to Creed in the category of Best Director for Ryan Coogler; Michael B. Jordan for Breakout Performance and Tessa Thompson for Best Supporting Actress. The top acting honors went to Will Smith and Teyonah Parris for their roles in Concussion and Chi-Raq. AAFCA will hold its 7th annual awards ceremony on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, CA.

“Our members found an interesting theme in many of the films released this year, giving a voice to communities who have generally been underserved and marginalized in society,” says AAFCA president Gil Robertson. “With movies like Straight Outta Compton, Chi-Raq, 3 1/2 Minutes and Dope, filmmakers brought to life many storylines that are a reflection of what’s happening in our world today, including the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Pictures like Carol and The Danish Girl, give voice to another community that is too often ridiculed and ignored by the status-quo. With Creed, the members of AAFCA found an opportunity to celebrate a film with “a” universal message of hope, honor and perseverance - something that everyone can embrace. Overall, it was a transformative year in cinema.”

The following is a complete list of 2015 AAFCA Awards winners.

Best Picture: "Straight Outta Compton" (Universal Pictures)

Best Director: Ryan Coogler –“Creed” (Warner Bros.)

Best Ensemble: "Straight Outta Compton" (Universal Pictures)

Best Actor: Will Smith "Concussion" (Sony)

Best Actress: Teyonah Parris "Chi-Raq" (Roadside Attractions)

Best Supporting Actor: Jason Mitchell "Straight Outta Compton" (Universal Pictures)

Best Supporting Actress: Tessa Thompson "Creed" (Warner Bros.)

Best Independent Film: "Chi-Raq” (Roadside Attractions)

Best Screenplay: Rick Famuyiwa, “Dope” (Open Road Films)

Breakout Performance: Michael B. Jordan “Creed” (Warner Bros.)

Best Animation: "The Peanuts Movie" (20th Century Fox)

Best Documentary: "A Ballerina’s Tale" (Sundance Selects)

Best Song: "See You Again" Furious 7 (Atlantic Records)

Best TV Comedy: "Black-ish" (ABC)

Best TV Drama: “How to Get Away with Murder" (ABC)

Best Cable/New Media TV Show: "Survivor's Remorse" (Starz)

AAFCA Top Ten Films of 2015 are as follows in order of distinction:

1. Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures)

2. Creed (Warner Bros.)

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros.)

4. Beasts of No Nation (Netflix)

5. The Martian (20th Century Fox)

6. 3-1/2 Minutes/Dope (HBO/Open Road Films)

7. Chi-Raq (Roadside Attractions)

8. Carol (Weinstein Co.)

9. The Big Short (Paramount Pictures)

10. The Danish Girl (Focus Features)

As previously announced, AAFCA’s Special Achievement honors will be awarded to Codeblack Entertainment CEO, Jeff Clanagan; director John Singleton; Maverick Carter and LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment. New York Times film critic, Manohla Dargis will receive the organization’s Roger Ebert Award and HBO will receive the group’s Cinema Vanguard Award.

About AAFCA

The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is the premiere organization of African-American film media professionals. Founded in 2003, AAFCA’s members represent a geographically diverse cross-section of media covering the cinematic arts. The organization honors excellence in cinema by creating awareness for films with universal appeal to black communities, while emphasizing film about the black experience and those produced written, directed and starring performers of African descent. The association actively reviews the quality and standard of black talent, content and media coverage. AAFCA also supports the development of future black film critics and filmmakers. AAFCA is based in Los Angeles.

CONTACT: Jeaunine Askew 323-878-2399 | info@aafca.com

Reel Roundup from CRC

REEL ROUNDUP with Carla Renata's Corner and "On Air With Tony Sweet"  

SPECTRE

As the latest in the James Bond series hits theaters this week, the conversation about  who will be the next James Bond is still on everyone's lips.  With rumors swirling about British heart-throb Idris Elba becoming the first African America to take on this iconic role, the African-American Film Critics Association (which I am a proud member) honored the "Black Women of Bond" this week at the California African-American Museum.  All the women were present except Grace Jones.

From Left to right:  Trina Parks, Naomie Harris, Halle Berry and Gloria Hendry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wymT3gH1gE

BlackBondWomenSpectrePosterNaomie_Essence

A cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GqClqvlObY

THE PEANUTS MOVIE

Who doesn't love Charlie Brown?  Well, for the first time he and the rest of the gang are coming to the big screen.  In this installment, Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVR4E6Q6u5g

Spotlight_poster

Click here for Carla Renata's Corner review on SPOTLIGHT

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaB0jl1rgNU

TRUMBO

Trumbo_Poster

Click Here for Carla Renata's Corner review for TRUMBO

In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0dZ_2ICpJE

BROOKLYN

BrooklynPoster

An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pBfqEP2_J4

MISS YOU ALREADY

MissYouAlready

The friendship between two life-long girlfriends is put to the test when one starts a family and the other falls ill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_Ux-CA_uLw

THEEB

Theeb

In the Ottoman province of Hijaz during World War I, a young Bedouin boy experiences a greatly hastened coming of age as he embarks on a perilous desert journey to guide.  Jordan's entry for the Best Foreign Language Feature at the Academy Awards, marks the feature debut of director Naji Abu Nowar, who was mentored by the Royal Film Commission Jordan and the Sundance Institute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US3NKlGzkwg

WhatOurFatherDid

WHAT OUR FATHERS DID:  A NAZI STORY

A human-rights lawyer conducts conversations with two men whose fathers were indicted as war criminals for their roles in WWII - Nazi Governors and consultants to Adolf Hitler himself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25_QcTWo-3s

 

Steve Jobs

"Think Different" - Steve Jobs

FILE - In this Oct. 12, 2005 file photo, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs holds up an iPod during an event in San Jose, Calif. Jurors in a class-action lawsuit against Apple Inc. on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014 saw emails from the late CEO and his top lieutenants that show Jobs was determined to keep Apple's popular iPod music players free from songs that were sold by competing online stores. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

- Steve Jobs Commencement Speech at Stanford University in 2005

 

Steve Jobs Review for UBNRadio.com and carlarenatascorner.com by Carla Renata

 

Steve Jobs and I had a lot in common. We both love and obsessed over Apple. We both practice Buddhism - Jobs practiced Zen and I practice Nichiren Buddhism.  We both believe in living in the here and  now. We both believe in doing what you loved and to never settle for less than.

My obsession with Apple began with the iPod.  While on tour, I traveled with a cassette player and case that housed all my gear.  It was bulky, heavy and took up ALOT of room in my luggage. Small enough to fit into my purse or carry-on bag, an iPod could fit into my purse.  I could listen to music for hours AND an iPod it held up to 1000 songs. coincidentally, this is the very reason Jobs created an iPod.

After his death from Pancreatic Cancer in 2010, Steve Jobs became a mythical, technological wizard around the world with his buddy Steve Wozniak.  Woz  and Jobs revolutionized the way millions connect around the world.

Primarily patterned after the Walter Isaacson book "Steve Jobs", this biopic is smart, savvy and leaves you salivating for more at the final frame.  With a crafty Aaron Sorkin screenplay and brilliant direction by Danny Boyle, "Steve Jobs" proves to be a different type of biopic filmed in three important stages of Jobs' life and career. Every scene plays like an elaborate dance of characters and rapid-fire dialogue.

I have to give it up to Francine Maisler for casting a cast to be rivaled.  Kate Winslet is a joy to behold as Jobs' most trusted confidant, Joanna Hoffman.  This chick masters an Armenian accent while navigating speedy dialogue all while running up and down corridors.  Winslet slays every ounce of this role with an ease that is admirable and exciting to witness.

KateWinslet_SteveJobs

Jeff Daniels, who at this point is a pro at rattling off Aaron Sorkin dialogue after spending several seasons on Sorkin's critically acclaimed drama "The Newsroom".  Daniels portrays John Scully with quiet bravado laced with dignity and pride.  When he and Jobs are at odds in some very difficult scenes, Daniels very easily could've played the victim, but makes a choice to play Scully as a strong, independent man who breaks away from the mechanical puppet master - Steve Jobs.

Scully_Daniels_SteveJobs

Those scenes with Daniels and Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) are the most fascinating portions of this film and I predict will earn them both a lot of praise and attention this awards season along their co-stars Kate Winslet and Seth Rogan.

Rogan, gives you just the right amount of humor and sensitivity to convince you that he is indeed Steve Wozniak.  A very prolific scene between Jobs and Woz in the orchestra pit of the San Francisco is one of many highlights in which Jobs confesses to Woz, "You are a very talented musician, but I play the orchestra".

Fassbender_Rogan__SteveJobs

Last, but certainly not least is Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs.  Admittedly, Fassbender was the last person that I would've thought of to play Jobs.  I gotta tell ya...I was a million percent wrong.  Fassbender morphs into the Steve Jobs we have all seen in the product launches and interviews and along with his crazy command of the massive amounts of dialogue he spouts out it is my bet that he will be the frontrunner for Best Actor this season.

MichaelFassbender_SteveJobd

Fassbender portrays Jobs as a kinder, gentler man in regards to his relationships with his daughter Lisa and trusted advisor Joanna Hoffman.

Steve Jobs launched into selected theaters this past weekend and opens nationwide on October 23rd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEr6K1bwIVs

The Gallows (DVD REVIEW)

The Gallows DVD Review by Kam Williams

 

Horror Flick Features 2nd Generation of Grisly Goings-on at Haunted High School Back in 1993, a student accidentally died onstage during the opening night performance of “The Gallows,” a macabre play being staged at Beatrice High. The unfortunate understudy, a last-minute replacement for the suddenly-indisposed star, was somehow hanged when the noose around his neck actually functioned when the trapdoor under his feet gave way.

Fast-forward twenty years and we find the school's theater club planning to put on the same production, ostensibly as an attempt to pay homage to the kid who lost his life. Drama teacher Mr. Schwendiman (Travis Cluff) is now overseeing the well-intentioned project with the help of a nerdy, student stage manager (Price T. Morgan).

In terms of the casting, Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown) has been picked to play the female lead opposite Reese (Resse Mishler) who will be reprising the role of the ill-fated protagonist. Other critical persons of interest for these purposes include football team captain Ryan (Ryan Shoos) and his cheerleader girlfriend Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford).

Ryan also just happens to be an amateur filmmaker with OCD. So, he constantly keeps his hand-held camera on “Record.” That annoying habit might prove valuable should anything tragic transpire on campus, even if the shaky images are terribly dizzying.

In fact, these clues are all the police have to go on to decipher what happened in The Gallows, a found-footage flick co-written and co-directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. The movie is a worthy addition to this low-budget, horror sub-genre inaugurated by The Blair Witch Project in 1999.

Just as in Blair Witch, the characters here use their real names in order to blur the line between fact and fiction, and thereby suggest that what you're watching is a documentary. However, that pretense is pretty much undermined by the presence Cassidy Gifford in the picture, since it's hard to buy the idea that the daughter of Frank and Kathy Lee Gifford was raised in rural Nebraska. That being said, she does deliver a decent performance as a terrified coed.

Scary fright fare that puts a creepy new spin on the meaning of school spirit.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for terror and disturbing violence

Running time: 81 minutes

Distributor: Warner Home Entertainment Group Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; The Gallows: The Original Version; The Gallows: Surviving the Noose; Charlie: Every School Has Its Spirit; Concept; Original Version; and Theatrical Trailers. To see a trailer for The Gallows, visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QM2f5VksNU

To order The Gallows Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B012BBBGK8/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Martian

TheMartian THE MARTIAN Review by Carla Renata for www.carlarenatascorner.com

This past week, NASA discovered that there is water on Mars.  Is it drinkable?  Does this mean there is life on the planet?  How much is the government really sharing with the world?

It seems the release of the Matt Damon, Ridley Scott directed Sci-Fi hit "The Martian" opened right on time.  NASA space crew ARES III is on Mars when an unexpected sand storm hits.  As the crew attempts to back on board the ship, a satellite dish hits astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon).  Believing their crew member has perished in the storm the Ares III blast off without him.  When he finally resurfaces it is in the red dirt on the surface of Mars.

Realizing he is alone, Watney has to decide whether or not to give up and die or devise a plan for survival.  Adapated from the best-selling novel by Andy Weir, the audience is taking on a wild ride and crash course of Mars survival through the eyes of one man.

In the beginning, feeling like "Castaway" on Mars, this film quickly shifts into an educational, intense-action-packed story with many twists and turns keeping the audience totally engaged until the very last frame.

Matt Damon as Mark Watney carries this film with an ease and charisma that just might land him an Oscar nomination (his first for Lead Actor since "Good Will Hunting in 1997).  Looks like all that training he has received as Jason Bourne served Damon extremely well in this flick.

damon_martian

 

Kristen Wiig is just ridiculously funny...even in a Sci-Fi/Adventure flick as the lead PR rep for NASA.  Chiwetel Ejiofor once again saying more when silent than with his given dialogue is spot on as NASA Scientist Vincent Kapoor.  Jeff Daniels is very effective as the hard-as-nails with a heart NASA head honcho - Teddy Sanders.   Other than Damon,  Jessica Chastain is once again shedding another layer of her chameleon skin as Ares III Commander Melissa Lewis proving she is always a force to be reckoned with on the silver screen.

martian-potatoes

Topping the weekend B.O with a domestic gross of 55 million, it is safe to say that The Martian's blast off was a huge success.

Watch the trailer below and check out why.  In the meantime, you might want to stock up on your potato supply.  You'll get the reference after watching the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej3ioOneTy8

 

 

THE AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION HAS ITS BEST YEAR EVER PRESENTING DISTINCTIVE EVENTS TO CELEBRATE AWARDS SEASON

(Los Angeles) – The African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), the premiere organization of film media professionals, set a goal last year to expand its industry presence during awards season with a collection of distinctive events. With awards season now coming to a close, by all accounts AAFCA has succeeded on all levels in honoring and presenting some of the most prominent names in front of the camera and behind the scenes in entertainment.

While each event was presented under the AAFCA banner, they were all unique. Starting with a community-centric panel discussion that focused on career sustainability in the entertainment industry, in collaboration with One United Bank; to an intimate dinner at the home of Emmy Award-winning casting agent, Robi Reed, leading up to the association’s premiere event, its annual awards show that showcased some of the biggest names in the industry - Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, J.K. Simmons, Kathryn Bigelow, David Oyelowo, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ava DuVernay, Chadwick Boseman, RZA, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Mike Epps, among others in attendance.

AAFCA celebrated the end of awards season with a lavish Academy Awards Viewing Party with Mercedes Benz US that attracted a diverse groups of celebrities and industry executives. “Award season never gets old and once again provided a whirlwind of activities that allowed the professional who work so hard in this industry an opportunity to connect with their peers,” says AAFCA President, Gil Robertson. “AAFCA feels very privilege to participate in this tradition and add our distinctive flavor into the mix.”

The AAFCA/Mercedes Benz US Academy Awards Viewing Party was a high-voltage affair held in the Grand Ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel. Notable talent enjoying the affair included: Tracee Ellis Ross, Lance Gross, Natalie Cole, Beverly Johnson  and the cast of “Selma”, who noshed on a menu that featured sushi, arugula hummus, spicy beef empanadas and duck confit quesadillas, complemented with cocktails that were specifically crafted for the occasion. The event was accented by special treats courtesy of luxury cosmetic brand, Estee Lauder; prizes and other surprises intended to enhance attendees’ Oscar viewing experience to the next level. “Mercedes-Benz is proud to join with AAFCA to host this year’s Academy Awards Viewing Party,” said Drew Slaven, vice president of marketing at MBUSA.  “We’re delighted to be a patron of AAFCA for the 2015 awards season.”

“Everyone had a blast as they celebrated the Oscars and what they mean to our industry,” adds Robertson. “Being able to team with Mercedes Benz US for this event was a beautiful thing and it’s an opportunity that we definitely plan to do again next year!” 

For more information on events and programs that are produced year round by AAFCA, visit www.aafca.com.

###

ABOUT: AFRICAN- AMERICAN FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (AAFCA)

The premiere organization of African-American film media professionals was established in 2003. The association actively reviews cinema at-large, with a particular emphasis on films which include the Black experience. AAFCA is also responsible for creating platforms for movies with universal appeal to the African-American community, while also highlighting films produced, written, directed and starring, persons from the African Diaspora. Now in its 6th year, AAFCA produces the annual AAFCA Awards ceremony to honor the best films, screenwriters, producers and directors of the year. Its members are also involved in advocacy work and works with universities across America to aid students interested in film criticism and entertainment journalism.

Mistress America

2015_Screening__Mistress_America_Jemal Countess_0083 mistressamericaphoto

IMG_0869

Ever wonder what happens to those really popular, beautiful girls from high school?  You know the ones...the cheerleaders, glee club standouts, valedictorians?  Those girls who made you feel guilty for having a brain or mocked you because they thought your hair, clothes or just presence was a waste of space?  In other words...the mean girls who didn't even KNOW they were being mean?

Personally, I could care less.  What I do wonder about is how they navigated in the REAL world with such a narrow, shallow view of life.

Well, I'm happy to report that Mistress America, a comedy about dream-chasing, score-settling, makeshift families and cat-stealing gives us a up-close, personal view of one of those chicks...Brooke.

Brooke's flurry of self-invention seems painfully transparent — but not, at first, to Tracy (newcomer Lola Kirke), a freshman in her first semester at Barnard College whose divorcee mom (Kathryn Erbe) is about to marry Brooke’s widower dad. The two prospective stepsisters meet in Times Square, where Gerwig has a fantabulous entrance, sashaying down the red steps behind the TKTS booth like a star in the reality series of her mind.

Tracy, an aspiring writer who’s having a tough time fitting in at school (“It’s like being at a party where you don’t know anybody, all the time,” she laments), is fascinated at Brooke, who already feels over-the-hill at 30, By the time their first night together is over, the beginnings of a short story have begun to weave in Tracy’s mind.

When these characters (along with Matthew Shear as Tracy’s tightly wound classmate and Jasmine Cephas-Jones as his ridiculously jealous girlfriend) end up together en route to Connecticut, a desperate Brooke hopes to secure investment funds for her restaurant from her ex-friend/roommate, (Heather Lind) whom she claims stole her idea for a line of designer T-shirts and her fiancee.

What ensues is a rapid-fire comedic procession of perfectly timed entrances, exits and outlandish complications (nosy neighbors, pregnant women, group literary criticism) that builds.   It’s dazzling and Gerwig (star and co-screenwriter with Noah Baumbach) does a spectacular job of bringing the many different complexities and layers of Brooke to life.  I laughed so hard, I literally gave myself a headache!

Mistress America was pure, unadulterated comedy at its best and you won't want to miss this one when it eventually hits theaters later this year.  It was one of the first films of Sundance 2015 to secure a distribution deal with  Fox Searchlight Pictures. Noah Baumbach directed from a script he co-wrote with  Greta Gerwig. and the film is produced by Baumbach, Scott Rudin, Lila Yacoub, Rodrigo Teixera and Gerwig.  Teixera’s RT Features financed Mistress America.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z8MCW16uZY

 

Tango Negro (FILM REVIEW)

by Kam WilliamsMusical Documentary Examines the African Roots of the Tango.

The word “tango” mean “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.

That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.

Truth be told, a post-slavery purge of blacks there resulted in a whitening of the region by the early 20th Century. For, while the descendants of Congolese slaves were being slaughtered or run out of the country, immigration was encouraged by settlers from Italy, France, Lebanon and Syria.

Thus, it is argued in Tango Negro that “the history of the Americas is an absolute lie, from the extermination of the indigenous peoples to the destruction of African cultures.” And it is further stipulated that this shameful legacy “will have to be acknowledged for reconciliation to occur.”

Besides the revisionist lessons this informative documentary includes numerous songs and performances of the Tango. Unfortunately, the music proves to be the low point of the picture, due to its woefully low-production values.

Nevertheless, three ole's to director Dom Pedro for daring to raise the taboo subject right in Buenos Aires, an ethnically-cleansed environ where it's admittedly hard to find any dark-skinned citizens.

Ole! Ole! Ole!

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Unrated

In Spanish, French and English with subtitles

Running time: 93 minutes

Distributor: ArtMattan Productions

 

To see a trailer for Tango Negro, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1OCMY06u7M

Robert L. Johnson (INTERVIEW)

The “Urban Movie Channel” Interview with Kam Williams

 

From BET to Billionaire--and Beyond!

Robert L. “Bob” Johnson is the Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies, an innovative business network that owns or holds interests in businesses operating in hotel real estate, private equity, consumer financial services, asset management, automobile dealerships, sports and entertainment, and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming. Prior to forming The RLJ Companies, Johnson was founder and chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET), the nation’s first and leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news, sports and public affairs programming for the African American audience.

Johnson continues to attract and manage capital and create value for investors, and in 2012, announced the successful creation of RLJ Entertainment, Inc., one of the largest independent global distributors of digital and video content. RLJ is the third company he's taken public. In 1991, BET became the first African-American company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. And RLJ Lodging Trust, a $2 billion market cap hotel real estate investment trust (REIT), went public in 2011.

In 2001, Johnson sold BET to Viacom for approximately $3 billion while remaining the Chief Executive Officer through 2006. The following year, he was named one of “The 25 Most Influential Business Leaders of the Past 25 Years” by USA Today.

In 2014, three of Johnson’s holding companies were featured on the Black Enterprise 100s list: RML Automotive, LLC ranked 1st in a category of 60 in the auto dealership rankings; and RLJ Equity Partners, LLC and RLJ Credit Management, LLC ranked 12th and 14th respectively on the private equity firms list.

Currently, Johnson serves on the following boards: RLJ Lodging Trust; RLJ Entertainment, Inc.; KB Home; Lowe’s Companies, Inc.; Retirement Clearinghouse; Strayer Education; Elevate Credit, Inc.; The Business Council; and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Johnson holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies from the University of Illinois. Here, he talks about his recent launch of the Urban Movie Channel (UMC), a premium subscription-based video streaming service exclusive to RLJ Entertainment.

UMC is the first urban focused digital streaming channel devoted to the acquisition of feature films, comedy specials, stage plays, documentaries, music, and entertainment for the African American and urban audiences. Access to the impressive on-demand streaming library is available with online from mobile devices, and on the Roku platform.

Kam Williams: Hi Bob, thanks for another opportunity to speak with you.

Robert L. Johnson: I'm delighted, Kam.

KW: When're you coming back to Princeton? I didn't see you at the recent African-American alumni reunion here.

RLJ: I spoke there many years ago, but I haven't been back in awhile.

KW: I'll be mixing in questions from readers with my own. Let's start with one from attorney Willard Alonzo Stanback about the Urban Movie Channel. He'd like to know how you see this new platform being used in the new world of multiple screens experiences. Will you be bringing your content to all of the computer and other available functionality, such as social media and interactive technology?

RLJ: UMC is an over the top, digital streaming channel that is subscription-based, meaning that the consumer pays to get the service. It is targeted to the Urban/African-American audience, but we believe good entertainment is colorblind, so it is available to everybody, essentially, who wants to go to the site. If you have a web browser, you can get UMC. Our goal with UMC is to bring the creative talent in the African-American community, which in many ways is underemployed, to the consumers who desire to see the content that projects their images and tells their stories. And it is designed to create an economic model where members of the creative community can monetize their talent and where the consumers will have a choice to purchase product and content that they can see on any device, whether it's their flat screen TV, their mobile phone, i-Pad , or any other device that can receive digital streaming content. We believe that, given the choice, these consumers will see UMC as a service they'd like to have along with Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime or HBO Go in order to get content not available elsewhere, and at the price they want.

KW: Menelik Shabazz, who is based in Britain, asks: Are you interested in extending your distribution vision to include Black World Cinema?

RLJ: To this gentleman, I would say the answer is “Absolutely yes!” The great thing about the digital world and the internet is that you can instantly be available to a global marketplace. And there is a tremendous amount of creative content in what I would call the multicultural or diaspora of people of color that we believe would clearly be attractive to audiences here in the U.S. And by the same token, content produced here would be attractive to people around the world. African-American creative content has proven its ability to travel. Jazz is a universal music enjoyed around the globe, as well as are other African-American cultural influences, such as hip-hop and rap music. We want to make sure that happens with feature films and other content that hasn't been exposed as much as the music in terms of its potential to appeal to a wider audience. I also think this represents a unique business opportunity in terms of the exchange of content between UMC and other platform distributors around the globe, whereby we can share content distribution as well as provide for distribution of content that would be acquired and licensed.

KW: Sangeetha Subramanian asks: What can the average person do to help improve diversity in entertainment media?

RLJ: Well, the most important thing that the average consumer can do is to take advantage of the opening of the marketplace where you the consumer controls what content you watch or gain access to. Because of the availability of all sorts of platforms, you're no longer tied to cable, the networks or the satellites. You can be your own programmer. And that's the beauty of UMC. For the first time, urban content can flow directly to the consumers without any gatekeepers. So you're not controlled by what advertisers are willing to sponsor, by what studio heads decide to produce, or by the cable operators who will force you to pay for content that you don't want to see through their bunded channels. You are your own curator; you are your own programmer. So, to me, the smartest thing any consumer can do is subscribe to whatever it is you want to see. And the more people subscribe to urban content, the more of it will be produced for your enjoyment.

KW: Dr. Karanja Ajanaku asks: Mr. Johnson, do you think there is any possibility whatsoever that African-Americans will organize their consumption power in such a way that it can be leveraged?

RLJ: Well, to answer that question, Doctor, I'd say African-Americans already organize their consumption power. They just don't leverage it. For example, African-Americans as a whole watch more television than any other population group in the country in terms of total hours spent in front of the TV. African-Americans are heavy consumers of pay TV and cable TV. African-Americans are early adopters of new technology, whether it's Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. The key is that we have to make sure that choices are available to us, so that our purchasing power will yield content that we want to see. For example, there are two million African-American cable subscribers who also take HBO and Showtime at a cost of about $40 a month. That's a billion dollars of buying power. We'd like to see some of that billion dollars of buying power go to UMC. We promise you that that money will flow to the creative talent, both in front of and behind the camera, to deliver programming that specifically appeals to your viewing interest. So, this new technology, allowing you to leverage your dollars, will change the way African-Americans access content and also change the way that content is produced to appeal to African-Americans.

KW: AALBC's Troy Johnson asks: Do you think it would be possible for another Black owned media conglomerate, like BET, to emerge in today’s environment?

RLJ: It's definitely possible, but it would be very difficult to do in this environment. It was difficult when I started BET. Today, the internet makes it possible for a lot of African-American content to flow freely to the consumers since there are no gatekeepers, and it is global in terms of its accessibility. We at RLJ Entertainment are laying the foundation to be sort of a BET in the Digital Age by creating the distribution platform of the Urban Movie Channel, by licensing content from independent producers of urban content, by helping them produce that content, and by promoting the awareness of it. We believe that as a first mover in this space, RLJ Entertainment has the potential to become a success story like BET and, obviously, I have a lot of experience in making that happen.

KW: Ilene Proctor asks: How is your focus today different from at the inception of your media empire?

RLJ: I think the difference is more the technology than the focus. When I started BET, its carriage was totally dependent on the development of cable television in the urban market. Its programming was totally dependent upon getting programming primarily from the networks. Its programming was dependent upon advertising support and cable carriage. And the ability to market it was limited to either buying black radio or going into urban oriented magazines like Ebony, Jet or Essence. Today, there are no gatekeepers in the digital space. I don't need to talk to a cable operator. I don't have to go to Ford Motor Company or Procter and Gamble for advertising support. I don't need to approach the networks for programming. There's tremendous talent out there producing programming. And I don't have to spend a lot of money on radio to reach the local markets. I can promote on Facebook and stream information on Youtube while the artists talk about their films on Twitter. The avenues for getting the word out have expanded vastly since when I started BET thanks to the technology revolution of the internet and the Digital Age.

KW: Professor/Filmmaker/Author Hisani Dubose asks: If you were an independent filmmaker today, would you go after theatrical distribution, streaming, mobile or cable?

RLJ: I'd really focus on delivering my content in the digital space as a way of getting a strong following that would recognize your creative storytelling ability. Once you achieve that, you'll have a calling card to go to the studios or TV networks to show the passion for your content as reflected in your number of viewers. I would take advantage of that. The costs of distribution and marketing are lower. I would certainly start there and then move up to the other levels if you so desire. But I clearly think the future is in digital distribution of content as opposed to the traditional models. .

KW: These two questions are similar. Publisher Reggie Kearney asks: What the best piece of advice you have to share with a small business owner? And Editor Kris Seals asks: What advice would you give someone who has a great concept, but needs resources to bring it to fruition?

RLJ: I think that the greatest challenge always facing small business owners, and I had it too when starting BET, is access to capital. What you have to do is put together your business plan, and identify potential strategic partners to approach operating in the same business sector, because they are more likely than others to understand what it is you're trying to achieve. Also, prepare a compelling story, focusing on the bottom line, about how this business can be a successful enterprise. Often, we become emotional about our businesses, and talk about what they might mean to the community or to us in a personal sense. When you're looking for investors, the real thing you want to focus on for investors is what it means in terms of a return on their investment. You want to convince them to have confidence in your integrity and your character and that you will manage their investment well and that you will deliver value. After you've done that, you can begin to share your passion with them about what impact you envision making on your community or on society as a whole. But first and foremost, remember that business people expect to get a return for their risk capital, and they expect you to ve assured that you plan to work as hard as you can to give them a return on their investment.

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman would like to know what was the biggest professional risk you ever took?

RLJ: That's hard to answer because I don't look at risks in terms of their size. You wouldn't be an entrepreneur if you didn't take risks. If I were to point to anything, it would be BET. BET was a risk when it started out since there wasn't any cable TV in the big cities, advertisers didn't know about advertising on cable, and people assumed African-Americans couldn't afford to subscribe to cable.

Everything you do as an entrepreneur is a risk. But if you look at them not as risks but as opportunities, you have an entirely different point-of-view as to what constitutes a risk. I saw BET not as a risk, but as an opportunity, and for me, that opportunity turned out to be a very positive one.

KW: Environmental activist Grace Sinden asks: Given your history of interest in politics and philanthropy, going forward, what do you think is the most important thing a person can do to make the world a better place?

RLJ: I have always have a tilt towards what's in the best interest of minority Americans, particularly African-Americans, and I think, in many ways, those concerns apply to the country overall. I believe one of the best things we can do is elect very intelligent, principled, committed people willing to sacrifice their personal agenda for the country's agenda. In order to do that, you've got to get to know your politicians and you have to consider your vote as a very valuable asset that you use in a very selfish way.

KW: Children's book author Irene Smalls asks: How can a young black child become a Bob Johnson of today? What steps would you suggest?

RLJ: Well, that's a tough question to answer. I believe that the most important thing that most mothers want for their son or daughter is character. By character, I mean understanding and accepting responsibility; being respectful of themselves and others; getting the education they need to be successful; striving to become a productive member of society; and exhibiting a willingness to work hard to get ahead. All those things put together. I think that any mother or father should try to inspire their children to believe in themselves, to be willing to work for what they receive rather than expect a handout, and to be proud of that work.

In one of his speeches, Dr. Martin Luther King said something to the effect of, “Don't be embarrassed by whatever labor you're undertaking. If you sweep the streets, sweep the streets the way Michelangelo painted pictures.” In other words, be committed to what you're doing. And if that's the case, you'll more than likely get the recognition that will enable you to continue to move up and better yourself, better your community and better your society.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier is curious to know whether you are thinking about writing your autobiography to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs? That would be great because I'm always send way more questions to ask you than we have time to get to.

RLJ: No,one thing I've always said is that I'm never going to write a book. Anyway, I do these interviews with you, Kam, so you can share them with your readers as sort of mini-books.

KW: I appreciate that, Bob. Thanks again for the time, and best of luck with the Urban Movie Channel.

RLJ: Anytime, Kam!