RIP Sir Richard Attenborough

attenborough-obit-2-blog427Charlie Chaplin is one of my favorite movie stars.  I could watch his films - silent and with sound until my eyeballs popped out! So, when I heard that Sir Richard Attenborough was directing a film on my fav starring one of my other favs...Robert Downey, Jr. I was beside myself!  Although Chaplin gave RDJ his first Oscar nomination, by Hollywood standards, the film was considered a flop.  Of course, this was a blow to its director, who just five years earlier was lauded for his film Cry Freedom starring Denzel Washington about South African activist Steven Biko.

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However, it is his direction of Ben Kingsley in his Academy Award winning role as Gandhi that most remember the directing genius of Richard Attenborough.   Mr. Attenborough brought the film to fruition after a 20-year battle to raise money and interest often reluctant Hollywood producers, one of whom famously predicted that there would be no audience for “a little brown man in a sheet carrying a beanstalk.” (Mr. Attenborough ended up producing it himself.)

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The film had 430 speaking parts and used over 300,000 extras for Gandhi’s funeral. No one expected it to recoup its $22 million cost, but it wound up earning 20 times that amount.

Attenborough, left directing briefly to re-claim his acting career with the role of John Hammond in the mega-hit Jurrassic Park.

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He was credited with inspiring Princess Diana, whom he coached in public speaking, to start her campaign against land mines. Christopher Hart, writing in The Sunday Times in London, called him “an ennobled Champagne socialist of the old school, a mass of good causes and inconsistencies.” On the set he was known for his genial charm, calling everyone “darling,” however mighty or marginal they were. William Goldman, the screenwriter of “A Bridge Too Far,” called Mr. Attenborough “by far the finest, most decent human being” he had ever met in the movie business.

 Ironically, In 2008,  he published an autobiography, “Entirely Up to You, Darling.” The book chronicles a full and eventful life. But it ends with the death of his daughter and granddaughter in the 2004 tsunami, and his regretting the time he never spent with them.

"Work", he wrote, “always took precedence.”  RIP Sir Richard...

 

 

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!!!

RIP Ruby Dee

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mbdrain-ec088A legend has left us today...I met her when I was assigned to be a talent escort for an award show in Los Angeles.  She was wickedly funny, brilliant, beautiful and sharp as a tack.  Her name was Ruby Dee.

Ruby Dee, best known for her role in 1961’s “A Raisin in the Sun”(the play, Poitier and Richards were all nominated for Tonys) and latterly for her Oscar-nominated turn as Denzel Washington’s mother in 2007’s “American Gangster,” passed away Wednesday in New York. She was 91.

Ruby Ann Wallace was born in Cleveland but grew up in Harlem and graduating from Hunter College with degrees in French and Spanish in 1944.

She began her career on the stage, making her 1943 Broadway debut playing a Native in a play called “South Pacific” (not the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical). She was a replacement in the American Negro Theater-produced hit “Anna Lucasta” and toured with the show. Dee appeared in three more plays in the late 1940s that had only brief runs on Broadway, including 1946’s “Jeb.” She first met Ossie Davis, who was playing the title character in “Jeb,” at this time and married him two years later. Off Broadway she appeared in “The World of Sholom Aleichem,” stage managed by Davis, in 1953.

The actress was first married to blues singer Frankie Dee Brown in the 1940s.

Dee’s Oscar nomination in 2008 for her performance as the feisty mother of a Harlem druglord played by Washington in Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” was particularly impressive because the actress made an impression on the Motion Picture Academy with only 10 minutes of screen time. She won a SAG Award for the same performance.

screen-actors-awards-2001Dee and her husband, Ossie Davis (who died in 2005) , who often performed together, were among the first generation of African-American actors, led by Sidney Poitier, afforded the opportunity for significant, dignified dramatic roles in films, onstage and on television. They were civil rights activists beginning in the early 1950s during the controversy over the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Later they were involved in Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.

When they were announced as recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2004, the center described them as “one of the most revered couples of the American stage, two of the most prolific and fearless artists in American culture. As individuals and as a team they have created profound and lasting work that has touched us all. With courage and tenacity they have thrown open many a door previously shut tight to African American artists and planted the seed for the flowering of America’s multicultural humanity.”

Dee made her bigscreen debut with a prominent role in the all-black musical “That Mine of Mine” in 1946. She starred opposite boxer Joe Louis, playing himself, in 1949 crime drama “The Fight Never Ends,” but she came to prominence with her role in 1950’s “The Jackie Robinson Story,” with the first African-American in Major League Baseball playing himself and Dee playing his wife. She had an uncredited role in Sidney Poitier’s first film, “No Way Out,” the same year.

For seven months beginning in September 1961, Dee and Davis starred on Broadway in the racially charged, Davis-penned satire “Purlie Victorious,” which attracted much controversy for, among other things, its setting: a modern Confederate plantation and  in the 1963 film “Gone Are the Days!,” an adaptation of “Purlie Victorious,”, as well as, the 1967 film “The Incident.”

ruby13n-1-webThe actress first made her mark on the smallscreen in a 1963 episode of “The Doctors and the Nurses,” drawing her first Emmy nomination. During the 1960s she had recurring roles on “Peyton Place” and daytime soap “Guiding Light” while guesting on other programs.

Dee won an Obie and Drama Desk Award in 1971 for her starring role opposite James Earl Jones in the original Off Broadway production of Athol Fugard’s “Boesman and Lena.” She won another Drama Desk in 1973 for her work Off Broadway in Alice Childress’ “Wedding Band.” She played Gertrude in a 1975 Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet” that starred Sam Waterston.

On the bigscreen, Dee appeared in the Davis-directed “Black Girl” in 1972; she starred with Davis in the Davis-penned and -helmed 1976 film “Cool Red,” whose tagline was “A Dynamite Story of African Revolution!” Other films Dee  starred in were with Poitier and Harry Belafonte in Poitier’s “Buck and the Preacher", the  telepic “It’s Good to Be Alive,” about Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Roy Campanella’s recovery from a tragic accident and Spike Lee’s controversial “Do the Right Thing” and “Jungle Fever.”.

Bp8ZUobCEAAbXHBDee picked up Emmy noms in 1979 for her role in “Roots: The Next Generations” and in 1988 for her part in the miniseries “Lincoln,” based on Gore Vidal’s novel. Another highlight of the period was a TV adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” in which Dee starred as Mary Tyrone.   She went on to pick up an Emmy in 1991 for her performance in the “Hallmark Hall of Fame” pic “Decoration Day”, in addition to, being nominated for guest roles in 1990 on “China Beach” and in 1993 on “Evening Shade.”

The actress returned to Broadway after a long absence in 1988 with the comedy “Checkmates,” starring with Denzel Washington and Winfield.  In 2001 Dee appeared in two Off Broadway productions, “Ruby’s Eyes” and the Davis-penned “A Last Dance for Sybil.” She received the Edith Oliver Award for Sustained Excellence at the 2002 edition of the Lucille Lortel Awards, which recognize achievements in Off Broadway theater.

In 2001 Dee and Davis shared a Grammy nomination with others for best spoken-word album for “The Complete Shakespeare Sonnets”; they won in the category in 2007 for “With Ossie And Ruby: In This Life Together.”

Dee and Davis were awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 1995. At the presentation of their SAG life achievement award in 2001, SAG president William Daniels said: “For more than half a century, they have enriched and transformed American life as brilliant actors, writers, directors,producers and passionate advocates for social justice, human dignity and creative excellence.”

Dee was married to Ossie Davis for 56 years and is survived by their three children: daughters Nora and Hasna and son Guy Davis, an actor, blues musician and choreographer.

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Here is a clip from her brilliant performance in A Raisin In The Sun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2hWlfvmxos

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!!!

2 Guns

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Two weeks after this year's San Diego Comic-Con, comics ruled the box office, but this time, it was a smaller comic publisher Boom! Studios that took the #1 spot with "2 Guns," starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg.  Therefore,  I was really looking forward to seeing what type of chemistry there would be between Washington and Wahlberg in their latest action adventure/comedy film - 2 GUNS.  Unfortunately, 2 GUNS left me wanting to blow my brains out from boredom and it's safe to say that Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy still hold the title for most interesting "buddy film" of 2013. 2 GUNS takes us on the journey of a DEA Agent and Naval Undercover Officer who are both looking to take down the Mexican Cartel.  Their respective agencies turn on them after a drug deal gone wrong  and they are left to rely on each other in order to redeem and reclaim their lives and careers.  The screenplay by Steven Grant is a little disjointed and slow for me and the best thing about 2 GUNS, (other than the amazing chemistry between Washington and Wahlberg),  is the ruthless, take-no-prisoners performance of Bill Paxton and the almost comical stereotypical Mexican drug boss character of Edward James Olmos (who is once referred to as looking like a  "Mexican Einstein").  It was refreshing to see Paxton NOT being the nice guy for once and even more so to watch Olmos almost make fun of a character we have seen sooo  many times.

2 GUNS has grossed $27.4 million in its opening weekend and is open in theatres nationwide.  It is the fifth biggest opening weekend for a Denzel Washington film and sixth for Wahlberg flick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVNe3RK2fgI

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!!!