Isabelle Huppert to be Honored at AFI Festival

Isabelle Huppert to be Honored at AFI Festival

AFI FEST 2016 presented by Audi will honor acclaimed actress Isabelle Huppert with a Tribute and a Gala screening at the festival. The Tribute will celebrate her storied career and will include a conversation with the actress, followed by a Gala screening of Sony Pictures Classics’ ELLE (directed by Paul Verhoeven) on Sunday, November 13.

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Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon

Based on a true story, on April 2010, the "blowout preventer" failed to engage, hydrocarbons shot up the well at an uncontrollable rate and causing a series of explosions on the Deepwater Horizon. The well was capped on 15 July and it was permanently sealed on September 19,2010 killing 11 people from Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. This film couldn't be more timely. It's a perfect example of how corporate greed puts the almighty dollar ahead of preserving the sanctity of human life.

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THE BIRTH OF A NATION

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The Birth of a Nation has been the center of controversy from the start.  First there was the confusion with the title for a remake of D.W. Griffiths racist travesty - The Birth of a Nation. I was relieved to discover that absolutely was not the case.

Secondly, there was the historical acquisition from Fox Searchlight at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year for 17.5 million dollars.  Oh yeah, and after  12 Years a Slave, a ROOTS reboot on the History channel and the John Legend produced series Underground numerous people from all walks of life and nationalities were feeling a little "slave fatigue".  Last, but not least, were the released transcripts online from a rape trial involving Director/Producer/Screenwriter and Star of The Birth of a Nation - Nate Parker.

Let's be clear, Parker was tried and acquitted of all charges.  Yet, despite all of the criticism, the studio supported Parker and moved forward with their October 2016 release date.

I'm not gonna lie.  Being a rape survivor and reading the transcripts, I felt some kind of way about the whole situation.  Having said that,  I made a conscious decision to separate the art from the artist.  By his own admission, Parker was "young and dumb" making a mistake that has infinitely colored the lanes of his life and career.

While there are many filmmakers who have been accused of such indiscretions, the most famous ones,  Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Fatty Arbuckle, Charlie Chaplin been accused of everything ranging from underage sex to murder.  What I won't do is focus on the artist and HIS indiscretions and focus on his art.  Once again, let me be clear.  I am not saying I am ok with Parker's past actions, but this column is about the film, my thoughts and whether or not I think you should check it out.

Based on a true story, The Birth of a Nation tells the story of the abolitionist slave Nat Turner.  Raised like a slave, but treated nearly equal to the his plantation owners, Turner was taught how to read.  The first book he learned to read was the Bible, which ultimately led to his traveling all over the state of Virginia preaching the gospel.

Like any human being whose patience has been tested and tried time and time again, Turner is fed up and planned a revolt against those who have treated slaves less than human, like property or worse than their most reviled farm animal.

I can tell you now, this film will be the talk of awards season for the reasons I mentioned above, but mostly because this film couldn't be more timely.  During a time in which Americans are dealing with rampant racism, injustice and a clown show for a political race of President of the United States...The Birth of a Nation will make you angry, make you think and make you feel.  It will also make you respect history and prove once again that the more things change the more they stay the same.

There is not one false note or performance and when they start handing out nominations Aja Naomi King should be at the top of the list.  Her simple, heartfelt performance as Cherry will make you grin, cry and have empathy all at once.  If you love her on ABC's How To Get Away With Murder, trust me you have no idea what this doll is capable of and you will very pleasantly surprised.

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Armie Hammer is nearly unrecognizable as Sam Turner.  He's definitely conquered much since his days in The Social Network and his performance here is quite a revelation.

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Of course, I would be remiss in not mentioning the performance of my friend and former Hart of Dixie castmate Esther Scott as Nana.  Nana is layered with lovely complexity thanks to Esther, who's been around the industry for a minute.  Here's hoping that this film give her the shine she deserves.

The same can be said for my former Huntress castmate Jason Stuart is deliciously despicable as slave master Joseph Randall.

Penelope Ann Miller is absolutely brilliant...that is all!!!  Aunjanue Ellis is an anomaly!  That doll literally can inhabit ANY role and make it spectacular.

It was very interesting to me that a clip I saw of Gabrielle Union at the Los Angeles Film Festival was missing from the final cut.  As matter of fact, her role is basically nonexistent.  No doubt due to all the controversy regarding the rape issue, there were basically no sex scenes seen at all.

The Birth of a Nation is, however, extremely bloody and violent.  After all, it is a slave revolt.  It suffices to say that I spend a good portion of my time with those scenes...eyes closed.

Last, but certainly not least, let's address the filmmaker, director, actor and writer of The Birth of a Nation...Nate Parker.

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As a first time director taking on all hats, he does an exceptional and admirable job.  My favorite things were the composition choices used and the choice to execute the passage of time.  Artistically, it was absolutely outstanding.  Parker's acting chops were fantabulously displayed in a scene in which he verbally spars with a clergy member and when he watches a slave who refuses to eat have his teeth excavated with a hammer.  The emotion without dialogue was really so incredible moving.

The Birth of a Nation will make you feel raw emotions and evoke compassion, empathy and sympathy for all of its characters.  Most of all, it will  make you want to do something.  Anything, to ensure that this chapter of history is never, ever again to be repeated.  Here's hoping the millennial 'birth of a nation' includes more love, understanding and communication amongst all individuals around the world.

Fox Searchlight will release The Birth of a Nation nationwide on October 7th.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i18z1EQCoyg

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Preview: SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE Conversation with Director Kelly Asbury

Preview:  SMURFS:  THE LOST VILLAGE Conversation with Director Kelly Asbury

Sony Pictures Animation’s previous two SMURFS movies were live action films in which real humans interacted with more realistically designed and animated Smurfs, and the stories centered as much around the human characters’ issues. SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE has nothing to do with those other films.

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People vs OJ grabs 22 #Emmys Noms for 2016

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The 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominations were announced this morning with Black-ish star Anthony Anderson and once-and-future Gilmore Girls actress Lauren Graham being the hosts for the telecast.

HBO's Game of Thrones earned the most nominations and  in its first year of eligibility, USA breakout Mr. Robot made a strong showing.

The fascination of former football star OJ Simpson's Limited Series paid off for FX's The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story with a whopping  22 nominations, only behind Game of Thrones.

UnReal and Orange is The New Black were completely dissed except for a Best Supporting nod for UnReal's Constance Zimmer.

Here is a complete list of the nominees. Drama Series

The Americans

Better Call Saul

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House of Cards

Mr. Robot

Comedy Series

Black-ish

Master of None

Modern Family

Silicon Valley

Veep

Transparent

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Limited Series

American Crime

Fargo

The Night Manager

The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Roots Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler, Bloodline

Rami Malek, Mr. Robot

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Danes, Homeland

Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder

Taraji P Henson, Empire

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Keri Russell, The Americans

Robin Wright, House of Cards Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Bryan Cranston, All the Way

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock

Idris Elba, Luther

Cuba Gooding Jr., The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager

Courtney B. Vance, The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Kirsten Dunst, Fargo

Felicity Huffman, American Crime

Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill

Sarah Paulson, The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

Lili Taylor, American Crime

Kerry Washington, Confirmation Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Will Forte, Last Man on Earth

William H. Macy, Shameless

Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Laurie Metcalf, Getting On

Tracee Ellis Ross, Blackish

Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Louie Anderson, Baskets

Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Matt Walsh, Veep

Tony Hale, Veep Supporting Actress in a Comedy

Niecy Nash, Getting On

Allison Janney, Mom

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Judith Light, Transparent

Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent

Anna Chlumsky, Veep Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul

Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones

Kit Harington, Game of Thrones

Michael Kelly, House of Cards

Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

 

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones

Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones

Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones

Maura Tierney, The Affair

Constance Zimmer, UnREAL Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jesse Plemons, Fargo

Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo

Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager

Sterling K. Brown, People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

David Schwimmer, People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

John Travolta, People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Melissa Leo, All the Way

Regina King, American Crime

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel

Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel

Jean Smart, Fargo

Olivia Colman, The Night Manager Outstanding TV Movie

A Very Murray Christmas

All the Way

Confirmation

Luther

Sherlock

Variety Talk Series

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Jimmy Kimmel Live

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

The Late Late Show With James Cordon

Real Time With Bill Maher

Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon Variety Sketch Series

Documentary Now

Drunk History

Inside Amy Schumer

Key & Peele

Portlandia

Saturday Night Live Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race

American Ninja Warrior

Dancing With the Stars

Project Runway

Top Chef

The Voice Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition

Ryan Seacrest, American Idol

Tom Bergeron, Dancing With the Stars

Jane Lynch, Hollywood Game Night

Steve Harvey, Little Big Shots

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, Project Runway

RuPaul Charles, RuPaul's Drag Race

Wanna Know 3 Secrets About Ghostbusters?

Wanna Know 3 Secrets About Ghostbusters?

Hanging with these "Ghostbusters" at a recent press conference was the most fun I had in quite some time. They were hilarious and it was obvious that the chemistry seen on screen was not contrived. These ladies have a real connection other than the fact that each and every one of them are ridiculously funny! Yeah, I said it...Girls are Funny...so there! Being a curvy girl myself, I couldn't resist the opportunity to ask Leslie Jones and Melissa McCarthy about their thoughts on the subject of how we are discriminated against when it comes to wardrobe styling for red carpets and special events. Here's an excerpt of what they had to say and it is right on time!

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Disney and Misty Copeland...What could be better??!!

Disney and Misty Copeland...What could be better??!!

This just in...via Deadline.com Ballet star Misty Copeland just unveiled that she is joining the cast of Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed pic based on the famed story. The live-action pic is being penned by Ashleigh Powell. Copeland will play the lead ballerina role in the film’s sole dance sequence.

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Are you a OG Ghostbuster Fan or a Newbie?

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I don't know about you, but I'm an OG Ghostbuster fan!!!  I remember seeing the film back in  the day and was scared to death.  Baby, when those lions on the NYC library steps turned into monsters...I was done! Not to mention my beloved Stay Puff marshmallow dude taking people out on the streets of Manhattan!  However, I was a die-hard Saturday Night Live fan and this film came out at the height  of the show's popularity starring Bill Murray, the late Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.  It was ridiculously funny and every kid wanted to be a "ghostbuster"...including me and my little brother.

We were treated to a wonderful tour of the Sony Pictures lot, GhostCorps headquarters with Ghostbusters creator Ivan Reitman and a fantabulous lunch.  Our tour guide Maryann (hope I spelled her name correctly)  was absolutely amazing!!   Here are some highlights and inside scoop on it all!!!

Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled when Sony Pictures invited me and a very impressive group of "mommy bloggers" to screen the Ghostbusters reboot at The Grove compete with 3d glasses and movie snacks!

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Day 2 was the Ghostcorps tour with the film's creator Ivan Reitman.  The original script was done with Reitman, Murray and Ramis when the film was unleashed to the masses on July 8, 1984.  Reitman shared that now having three kids and four grandchildren he realizes that Ghostbusters helped make the "scary "ghost issue" more reasonable for kids" because now "there were "busters" who could capture and retain the ghosts".  These guys became role models and with the reboot release on July 15th, the role models have now become women with the casting of Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and bringing in screenwriter Katie Leopold for an extra special touch.

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Ever wonder why there has never been a sequel to the original?  I wondered that too!!!  Ivan Reitman told us that he, Harold Ramis and Bill Murray have owned the rights to the franchise all these  years!  I know right!!  Clearly, there were and are some very smart cookies.  With the recent passing of Ramis, it forced the other two to think about what would happen to the franchise should they depart this realm.  It was mutually agreed that they would transfer the rights to Sony Pictures.

Thus, the set up and launch of GhostCorps on the Sony Lot.  Ghostcorps houses ALL things ghostbusters, including massive memorabilia from the 1984 version, but all the merchandising set to be released with this summer's reboot.  Along every wall of the building are posters from all of Ivan Reitman's films.  In the conference room, there is a gas case featuring patches from some of the 500 charity-based Ghostbuster groups around the world  Can you believe most them build their on Ecto Mobiles and have even requested the dimensions for the proton packs the "buster" wear to make their experience completely authentic.

GhostCorps Logo

 

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After taking a group photo with Ivan, it was off to tour the Sony lot.  Did  you know that Sony Pictures is the home of one of the most iconic movies studios in film history?  I know...I didn't know that either!  Sony Pictures was formerly name MGM Studios where my favorite film of all time was created...The Wizard of Oz.  Below is the rainbow from the original film that had to be included on the lot when Sony took over to commemorate that it was formerly MGM Studios.

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Maryann took us to the Barbra Streisand Sound Stage, where I couldn't resist busting out a little "I Will Always Love You" after being told that Whitney, Barbra and Judy sang on that very stage!  Hopefully, the good vibes will rub off!

There is folklore that the stage where the Wizard of Oz was filmed...Stage 15 is haunted by someone named Charlie.  Apparently, Charlie worked with MGM for years and just can't tear himself away!  A very important bit of contract trivia involves the Wicked Witch of the West - Margaret Hamilton being burned when she is melted and was unable to be sent to the hospital due to the fact that she was not a MGM contract player.  I know!!!

After stalking Adam Sandler's Happy Madison offices, we make our way over to the home of Wheel of Fortune on Stage 11.  Over 500 contestants are brought on to the show yearly to play "wheel"with former weatherman Pat Sajak and letter turner/model Vanna White.  That wheel, by the way, weighs 2400 pounds and has over 200 lights!  You better make sure you get our workout on before hitting that show...lol.

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We surely worked up an appetite and were treated to a nice lunch outside and then sent on our way to rest up for Day 3...the press conference.  Details to follow and thank you of the opportunity to share  a lifelong dream!

Check out the video I made when you get a moment.  It's pretty funny...

https://youtu.be/p_R5nfaN978

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carla Renata

Hey My Fellow Movie Lovers...

A Bison, Virgo, devoted daughter, yoga and spinning enthusiasts, graduate of  the "mecca" - Howard University's School of Communications, former publicist, actress, branding influencer and "doggie mom" to an adorably smart-energetic maltese are just a few of the characteristics that make up the essence of me -- Carla Renata.

Formerly of UBNRAdio.com, where I Co-Hosted "On Air With Tony Sweet", this Fall, I will be hosting a new show for Black Hollywood Live owned by E! Correspondent Maria Menounos  and am a freelance contributor for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

I absolutely adore talking about all things cinema and it is my sincere hope that although not every opinion I have will or will not be embraced, know that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to share!  Enjoy and see you on the red carpet!!!

Life, Animated

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The very time I became aware of autism, what it was and how it manifests was when I was in rehearsal for the 1st National tour of "The Who's Tommy".  You see the character of "Tommy" was a high functioning autistic child who becomes a rock star.  The creative team had professionals come in and tell us all about it, so that onstage our relationship with Tommy would be authentic and real.

About a year ago, I was chatting with my old friend Jonathan Freeman.  He began telling me about a book by Ron Suskind called Life Animated and about his kid named Owen who was autistic.  He revealed that Owen broke out of his autistic prison through watching Disney animated films. Now, this was fascinating, because both Jonathan and myself have a Disney connection.  I played Shenzi in Los Angeles production of "The Lion King" for three years and Jonathan is the voice of "Jafar" in the Disney animated feature "Aladdin" and performs this role eight times a week currently on Broadway.

BROADWAY'S JAFAR IN ALADDIN AND CARLA RENATA

BROADWAY'S JAFAR IN ALADDIN AND CARLA RENATA

As life works, while at Sundance 2016,  I found out Owen Suskind is now the subject of a documentary directed by Roger Ross Williams.  When I tell you, I spent 90 minutes doing the ugly cry while trying to laugh...I really do not exaggerate!

At three-years old, Owen Suskind began speaking gibberish.  After taking him to numerous medical professionals, he was diagnosed autistic.  For those of you who don't know what that means, it simply means that these kids have a brain that is overly stimulated.  They are brutally honest and don't know what lying or being polite is.  They simply live in the moment...whatever that moment happens to be.

After one year of complete silence while watching "The Little Mermaid", Owen uttered what his parents Cornelia and Ron understood as "juicer voss".  Owen was trying to say "just your voice" ( a line from the character Ursula). Now, as a 23-year old adult, Owen has transitioned into adult assisted living, had his heart-broken for the first time and secured employment at a local movie theater.

Life, Animated is one of the most inspiring, heartwarming and heartbreaking films I have seen in quite some time.  It was truly a reality check.  It reminded me that just when you think your life sucks, there is always someone else who has it just a little harder.

I wonder what Walt Disney would think about his films being the catalyst for a child who most people wrote off and were ready to throw in the towel on.  Ron and Cornelia Suskind  and their other son Walter NEVER gave up on Owen and continue to make his life as normal and easy-going as possible.

While saying goodbye to Jonathan, Owen and his family popped by and when we asked if he was tired of being a movie star, he simply replied "Yes, it will be nice to get back to me".  One of my favorite moments of the film was having Gilbert Godfried pop by Owens' Disney Club and do a live reading of Aladdin for all the members along with Jonathan.

 

Thank you Jonathan for bringing Owen and his beautiful family to my attention.  You and them have TRULY changed my life and mindset forever.

Life Animated opened in theaters on July 1st and remember you heard it here first...it will definitely be on the short list for the Oscars in 2017.

 

Are you ready to join the Rooftop Cinema Club

Are you ready to join the Rooftop Cinema Club

Remember back in the day when you we would go to a drive-in for the latest flick or maybe just a nostalgic look back with our favorite classic or cult film? Drive-in's are a thing of the past, but don't fret! Many alternatives have popped up like iPic and the Rooftop Cinema Club.

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