Luminous Ludacris!

 

Ludacris

The “Fate of the Furious” Interview

with Kam Williams

Luminous Ludacris!

The multi-talented Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has enjoyed a remarkable career. As a recording artist, Bridges has sold more than 15 million albums domestically, thanks to the blockbuster success of such singles as “Stand Up,” “Get Back,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Number One Spot,” “Money Maker” and “My Chick Bad.”

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES as Tej in “The Fate of the Furious.”

Though best known for his infectious tunes, Ludacris has proven himself equally adept at composing powerful songs with serious subject matter, such as the hit “Runaway Love.” Furthermore, his versatility and artistic complexity enabled him to make a seamless transition to acting.

On screen, he most recently co-starred in Furious 7, a follow-up to his stellar work in the Fast and Furious franchise’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, Fast Five and Fast & Furious. He was a member of the A-list ensemble assembled for the romantic comedies New Year’s Eve and No Strings Attached.

Luda also delivered critically-acclaimed performances in Hustle & Flow and the Academy Award-winning Best Picture, Crash, as well as on such television series as Empire and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Plus, since stepping back into the studio, he’s been wowing music fans with his 8th studio album, Ludaversal.

The consummate businessman, Luda’s latest venture includes the highly-anticipated Chicken-n-Beer  restaurant coming soon to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  In addition, he is dipping his hands in the tech space by partnering with apps such as Roadie, an on-the-way delivery service.

Luda’s philanthropic efforts rival his entertainment accomplishments. He partnered with Crash writer/director Paul Haggis and Artists for Peace and Justice to help raise more than $4 million for Haitian relief efforts. And he’s raised more than $100,000 for Atlanta flood victims through The Ludacris Foundation, too. Having partnered with Jane Fonda, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Nelson Mandela, to name a few, the foundation continues to inspire youth through education.

Here, Luda talks about reprising the role of Tej Parker in The Fate of the Furious opposite Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham, Charlize Theron and Tyrese.

 Ludacris,  The “Fate of the Furious” Interview  with Kam Williams, one of music’s premiere entertainers,recording artist, rap

(L to R) Roman (TYRESE GIBSON), Tej (CHRIS “LUDACRIS” BRIDGES), Little Nobody (SCOTT EASTWOOD), Hobbs (DWAYNE JOHNSON), Ramsey (NATHALIE EMMANUEL) and Letty (MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ)

Kam Williams: Hi Luda, thanks for another interview.

Ludacris: What’s up, Kam?

KW: I really loved this film!

L: You and me both. so, I’m glad that you feel it.

KW: Furious 7 left me in tears, given the sensitive way they handled Paul Walker’s exit. So, that left me wondering whether they’d be able to get back to the action following such a moving conclusion. But they handled the transition seamlessly and very tastefully. It works perfectly.

L: It does, Kam. And I feel like this is the most clever of all of them. It’s really smart. If you see it twice, you’ll notice a lot of things you missed the first time. I’m just happy that we continue to outdo ourselves, man, because, at this point, it’s like, “How are we doing this?” There’s definitely a higher power controlling the franchise.

KW: What’s it like shooting without Paul?

L: It’s very emotional. That’s a void that will never be filled. All we can do is carry on his legacy by making the best movie possible. That adds a little pressure on us . 

KW: But you did manage to outdo yourselves. Other than James Bond and some of the comic book adaptations, I can’t think of another franchise with such staying power.

L: Exactly! That’s what we like to do… break records!

KW: How do you explain the series’ enduring appeal?

L: I think maybe our really being a family off-screen might have a lot to do with the chemistry you see on-screen. 

KW: What’s new about your character, Tej, this go-round?

L: Tej Parker’s happy because he got himself a tank provided by the U.S. government. And you also get to see some skills that you never knew he had. I just love how he continues to grow along with the entire franchise. That makes it so special.     

KW: You have some excellent lines in this episode, and so does Tyrese. The film also features some great banter between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham’s characters. And Charlize Theron was a terrific villain.

L: I think Charlize’s addition is one of the picture’s greatest qualities. While women were already fans of the franchise, her performance literally taken it up another notch, because she brings her own fan base.   

KW: She disappeared into the role so well, I didn’t even know it was Charlize for at least 10 minutes after she made her first appearance.

L: Dude, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. She’s so good at what she does that she make Vin and everybody else around her better. We just continue to up the ante.

KW: You know what was hilarious? How Clint Eastwood’s son, Scott, is in the film, but playing a nerd instead of a macho character you’d expect.

L: We always like flipping the script a little and doing the unexpected which is why it’s so successful.

KW: In my review, I said this film is worth the price of admission for the opening scene alone, like Taken, District B-13 and the remake of Dawn of the Dead. That drag race was breathtaking and kept me on the edge of your seat.

L: Exactly, Kam! And it moves from one action sequence to the next without ever losing the integrity or continuity of the storyline.   

KW: What’s going on with you musically, Luda?

L: Everything’s good! I’m getting back into the bloodstream of music. I just dropped a single called Vitamin D. Everybody’s talking about the video. You definitely need to check it out. There’s this whole hoopla about this CGI (computer-generated) chest and abs I have in it.   

KW: Tell me a little about your upcoming projects.

L: I have an independent film called Ride coming out, and I do some voiceover work in a movie called Show Dogs. Besides that, on TV, they’re bringing back the  show Fear Factor with me as the host.

KW: Congratulations! Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?

L: If Halle Berry does a remake of Monster’s Ball, I’d like to play Billy Bob Thornton’s character.

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

L: My earliest childhood memory? That’s a good question, Kam. Just going out to the park with my mom, and playing on the slides and the swings.

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

L: I grew up Christian, if that’s what you’re asking. I prefer not to get into discussions of religion these days. But I’m very much a believer in a higher power.

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

L: If I could have one wish instantly granted, I would probably ask for world peace. 

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

L: Wow! That’s such a good question. I really have to think about that… I wish somebody would ask me if I could cook, and I’d tell them, “Hell no!”

KW: Well, what’s your favorite dish to eat?

L: Chicken Parmesan.

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

L: The Predator, because he had dreadlocks. I felt like he was Jamaican.

KW: Susan Doran asks: How did you come up with the name Ludacris? I figure that the “cris” part comes from Chris being your real first name. 

L: That’s exactly right. Since my music embodied the dictionary definition of “ludicrous,” I think it was kind of creative to combine it with my name and come up with “Ludacris.”

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

L: An American Express Black Card, man.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Luda, and best of luck with the film, the new single and the new TV show.

L: Thank you, Kam.


To order a copy of Luda’s latest CD, Ludaversal, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00TH87IM4/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20 

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

 

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public PolicyWilmer J. Leon, III

The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview

with Kam Williams

Dr. Leon Pressing On!

Wilmer J. Leon, III is a political scientist whose primary areas of expertise are Black Politics American Government, and Public Policy. Dr. Leon has a B.S. degree in Political Science from Hampton Institute, and a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University.

He is a nationally-syndicated columnist and the host of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s  “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon.” He is also a regular contributor to national and international television news programs, newspapers and websites.

Kam Williams: Hi, Dr. Leon, thanks for the interview.

Wilmer J. Leon: Kam, my pleasure. Thank you for your interest in my book “Politics Another Perspective”. The struggle continues and we can only move forward through fact based analysis and dialogue.

KW: What interested you in publishing a collection of your Op-Eds?

WJL: As a political scientist, I was looking for a way to provide to the general public clear analysis of some of the issues impacting the country. I wanted it to be in a form that would be easy for readers to access and digest. I’ve always received great feedback to my Op-Eds. So, a collection of them seemed to be the natural answer or solution.

KW: Most of the pieces were written during Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House. How would grade him as a president?

WJL: Wow, that’s a difficult question to answer. Usually we take some time and allow the lens of history to provide some distance and space for the analysis to be done. Right now, I would give President Obama a “C.”

KW: What would you say is his legacy?

WJL: Again, that’s a difficult question to answer. Symbolically, being the first African-America president is invaluable and powerful. The fact that I can turn to my 15-year-old son and say, “You too can be POTUS” is a very powerful reality. In terms of domestic policy, navigating the country through the economic crisis was an incredible accomplishment. Even though he bailed out the banks, he did nothing for the homeowner. If he had forced the banks to lend the bailout money back to the homeowner in the way of more favorable loans, property values would have remained stable. The ACA [Affordable Care Act] was a great accomplishment even though its rollout was an utter failure. How can one pay so much attention to the detail of the legislation and then ignore its implementation? This is mind-boggling. He should have used the Recess Appointment option with Merrick Garland. He should have nominated an African-American woman to the Supreme Court instead of Kagan. In terms of education, he continued the Bush Era neo-liberalization of education, No Child Left Behind, with Race to the Top. From a foreign policy perspective, he continued a lot of the Bush administration approaches, if not policies. The assassination of Gaddafi was an utter failure. As a Senator, he voted against the illegal invasion of Iraq and then does a similar thing in Libya making the problems in the Middle East worse. The use of drones was not as benign or sterile as he tried to make them out to be. To a great degree, he did not use his bully pulpit to rally his base against the obstructionist Congress. I don’t believe that the politics he ran on were really his politics. I think he’s a conservative corporatist who ran as a centrist. He tried to be reasonable with a House and Senate that swore to oppose him at every turn but thought that his intellect was more powerful than their racism. Those are a few examples.

KW: Do you think African-Americans were rewarded fairly by the Obama administration for being his most loyal constituency?

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy

WJL: Not at all. Again, the symbolism is invaluable, but you can’t pay the mortgage with symbolism. In his defense, the African-American community, for the most part, did not challenge him and force him to use his bully pulpit to address our issues. In that regard, we gave him a pass. So many of us were so happy to have him there that we focused on the politics of pigment and phenotype and forgot the politics of policy. He rewarded other constituencies such as the LGBTQ, Latino and women, but ran from us unless he was forced to speak to us.

KW: How do you explain the Trump victory? Do you think the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support?

WJL: There are a lot of factors to the Trump victory. Dr. King called it “white backlash” and Dr. Ronald Walters called it the politics of resentment. A major part of this was the backlash to 8 years of an African-American president. There are a lot of people who fear the “browning of America” and the election of Obama validated those fears. As Dr. Walters wrote in his book, “White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community”: “Within American society, which includes contending social groups, there exists a balance of power that conforms to that society’s racial composition.” This balance must conform to the normal distribution of power, if society is to remain in equilibrium. President Obama, in the minds of a lot of people became an indicator that the normal distribution of power is askew and is in jeopardy. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, hence his statement “I love the uneducated.” Trump won whites with a college degree 49% to 45%. The CBS Exit Poll data found that 54 per cent of white women voted for Trump. Trump also won among white, non-college women 62 to 34 percent and white college-educated men, 54 to 39 percent. This begs the question, for as nauseating as Hillary Clinton was to a lot of people, how could white-women vote for a shallow misogynist who called women pigs and said about Carly Fiorina “Look at that face…Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that the face of our next president?” And we know about his reference to women’s’ genitalia and he also objectifies his own daughter? In spite of this, white women saw value and redeeming qualities in this guy. They voted “white” before they voted “women.” A lot of working-class and middle-class whites who have seen their wages and salaries remain stagnant for 15 years were convinced that immigrants are stealing their jobs and social programs for lazy “colored” people have been draining the public coffers. Trump spoke directly to them and was able to convince them that he would be their champion. They wanted to believe him because he spoke to and validated their bigotry. We can also explain the Trump victory by understanding voter suppression and the Crosscheck Program. According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, Kris Kobach’s Crosscheck “removed tens of thousands of minority voters from the rolls in the swing states that surprisingly shifted to Trump… Stopping Crosscheck is the Standing Rock of racist vote suppression.” Yes, the Democratic Party made a mistake closing ranks behind Hillary, especially after it was obvious that Bernie was the candidate with all the enthusiastic popular support? This demonstrates that the Democratic power structure is closer to the ideology of the Republicans than the constituents they are supposed to represent. The way that the DNC mismanaged the nomination of Congressman Keith Ellison to be the DNC chair is another example of this. They are not nearly as “progressive” as they try to make themselves out to be.

KW: The country seems very divided by the election of Trump? Can that rift be healed while he’s in office?

WJL: No, not as long as the racist reactionary forces such as the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus continue to dominate. Also, neo-liberal politics is killing America and it’s being sold wrapped in the cloak of xenophobic, fearmongering, racist, reactionary politics. As Lester Spence writes, “Racial politics perform work here, as white attitudes about labor, work, crime and taxes are fused to attitudes about black men and women and, through them, to other non-white populations.” As Trump said, “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And on March 12 of this year, Congressman Steven King (R-Iowa) said “…culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” The next day, King said, “Individuals will contribute differently, not equally, to this civilization and society. Certain groups of people will do more from a productive side than other groups of people will.”

KW: Do you think Trump is serious in terms of his plan to make Chicago’s South Side and other crime-ridden inner-city neighborhoods safe?

WJL: No. It’s a rhetoric to demonize a category of people and present a narrative that will prepare Americans for the militarization of our urban centers. The evidence is clear, safety comes from education, jobs, and the hope for a profitable future. Investing in the infrastructure of our inner cities and the people who live there is how you make them safe.

Wilmer J. Leon III , The “Politics: Another Perspective” Interview, Kam Williams, Black Politics American Government, Public Policy, SiriusXM Satellite host

KW: What about when it comes to jobs and education? He did make overtures to the HBCUs.

WJL: No, he did not. That was hollow rhetoric followed by a photo op. Budgets are numeric representations of priorities. When his budget was presented the funding he had discussed vanished.

KW: Is the country post-racial? How will we know when it is?

WJL: No. As long as African-American men are incarcerated at a rate of more than six times the rate of white men and the incarceration of black women continues to grow at record numbers, America will not be post-racial. As long as unemployment among African-Americans is more than twice the rate of white Americans, and as long as studies show that a black family’s income is a little more than half that of a similar white family’s income, America will not be post-racial. According to Forbes, “The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy. In absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household. [All figures come from the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation.]” This is what is called the “racial wealth gap.” And this is exacerbated by the problem with inter-generational transference of wealth. White parents are able to transfer assets to their children that African-American families cannot. As long as African-Americans continue to deal with “Driving While Black,” extrajudicial police murders, excessive high school dropout rates and imbalances in health care, America will not be post racial.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?

WJL: I tend to read a few books at a time. Let me say, “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram Kendi, “The Half Has Never Been Told” by Edward Baptist; “Knocking the Hustle” by Lester K. Spence, and “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison I’m always re-reading the classics.

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

WJL: Wow! Being driven to nursery school in Mrs. James’ white Corvair, with her son Dennis and Kenny McGhee.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

WJL: My parents until their deaths.

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

WJL: Yes. I was raised Catholic, sentenced as a child to do 1st to 12th grades in Catholic school, and served all 12 years. As the only African-American child in my class from grade 4 to 8, I was subjected to a lot of racist abuse by classmates and teachers. The spiritual element of my childhood came around the 6th grade when I was taught that the Jesus of history was a Palestinian Jew who looked more like me than my bigoted classmates and teachers, and not like the White Jesus/God that they were indoctrinating me to pray to.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

WJL: Smoked roast and/or shrimp or chicken etouffee’.

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

WJL: Sorry, but there are four. First, my mother ran the Head Start program in our home town of Sacramento, California in the Sixties, and she would take me with her in the summers to work with the kids. My dad was a parole officer early in his career and would take me with him on some of his visits with former parolees. My parents taught me that all humans have value and the importance of working for the empowerment of the community. Hearing Tom Porter’s voice on “Morning Conversations with Tom Porter” on WPFW 89.3 FM in DC in 1983. His perspective changed my world view. And seeing Dr. Ronald Walters with Ted Koppel on “Nightline.” I knew then that my life’s work would be as a political scientist and that Black Politics would be my focus.

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

WJL: As Sho Baraka says, “In the land of the passive, make sure that you man up; when introduced to a lady it’s always proper to stand up…always speak up for the weak until somebody listens…your knees should be hurt from prayin’ with your people and your shirt should be wet from cryin’ over evil.” Contrary to the popular narrative, our struggle has always been about the success of the collective not the individual.

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

WJL: A flawed man, husband and father trying mightily to measure up to the standard set by his brilliant, loving and committed parents.

  

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

WJL: One more conversation with my parents. I miss them.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

WJL: What was it like growing up in an African American community in South Sacramento as the son of Wilmer, Jr. and Edwina Leon? It was a blessing. I was a midget in the land of giants. I grew up around an eclectic group of educators, lawyers, physicians, Tuskegee Airman, etcetera, who were all committed to excellence, our culture, the community and raising their kids to be strong Race People who would fight against the racism that we were subjected to during the Sixties and Seventies.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?

WJL: Challenging the status quo and using excellence to do so.

KW: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

WJL: Don’t. Learn from where I’ve gone; and lead, don’t follow.

KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?

WJL: As a man who unconditionally loved his family and worked tirelessly to make his community better. And as a man who left the situation a little better than he found it.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Leon, and best of luck with the book.

WJL: Thank you for your interest, Kam, and for your assistance in promoting it.

To order a copy of “Politics: Another Perspective,” visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01M1GOC55/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

Source:  GIG News

A Child’s Best Pooch!

 

A Child’s Best Pooch!

by Amy Lignor

 

Parents will agree, when it comes to the other near, dear family member, they want to get the right dog for their children to grow with and play with. A dog that is safe, fun, and easy to please that the kids will absolutely love.

benefits, Newfoundland, Golden Retriever, Collie, Cocker Spaniel, Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, best breeds

Dogs bring many benefits to the kids – both mental and physical. There are a ton of studies that have been done showing that dogs make people happier, improve health, and a study of three-to-six year olds has shown that kids growing up with their favorite canine are more empathic to both animals and humans when they get older. They show far more compassion in the classroom to other students, and simply have a better life all around. So, parents, what are the best breeds when it comes to bringing love and warmth into a child’s life?

 

Well, one of the top picks comes in the form of the Beagle. Heck, Snoopy was one, which should make them the top choice. But in addition, the Beagle is a great dog that weighs in at 20-25 pounds, making it the perfect size for those outdoor adventures. The breed is always friendly, nice and at the ready for any game that wants to be played.

 

If we are talking about children, we are talking about high levels of energy, and that is where the Bull Terrier also becomes a great pick to be the family pet. They love big families, by the way, because they are the most active dogs that literally run and play so much that they wear the children out. They are also very protective of their little kiddies and will make sure they stay safe.

 

The beauty that came in runner-up to the German Shepherd this year, the Irish Setter is a great family dog. Not only are they a stunning breed, but they are also easily trainable, love the outdoors and are extremely active. And when the kids grow, as the Irish Setter grows with them, they become ideal walking, biking or hiking companions to explore the Great Outdoors.

 

If you’re looking to “Go Big or Go Home,” head straight to the Newfoundland. You will never find a more devoted breed to your child. Patient, sweet, loving, these “gentle giants” are exactly that. Yes, there will be slobber, but the Newf is worth it. They are intelligent, wonderful family dogs and they absolutely love the company of children.

 

The “All American” breed, the Golden Retriever, is still at the top of the list for kids. Always happy, always willing to play, the Golden is all about games and having a ball with the family on a daily basis. If things get too relaxed, they will even initiate the game and the kids will leave all that digital technology behind in order to play and run outside with the dog. THAT is a real gift!

 

Along those same lines, the Labrador Retriever is another dependable, playful, highly affectionate dog that you and your kids will love. They get along with other pets inside the household, they love running around outside or taking a dip in the pool, and they are truly protective, which is why they are often used as service dogs.

 

Remember, beauty is only skin deep… Like the Boxer, the Bulldog is a fantastic dog for your children. Not the most active out there, but they are the best when it comes to protection. Many believe they have a “sixth sense” when it comes to taking care of a child and even though many may not see this, Bulldogs are extremely even-tempered, calm and friendly.

 

One of the most docile and affectionate dogs for the kids is the Cocker Spaniel. Not small enough to be harmed by kids and not big enough to harm them, which means they are “just right.” And when it comes to being easily trained, this breed has that gift hands-down.

 

Last, but not least, don’t forget to bring Lassie home, as well. The Collie is an extremely fun, active, loving dog. Loves to play outside and, yes, they make sure that protection is given to their little best friend (as well as their big ones) at all times.

 

And always remember, there are so many dogs out there who need a home. Never forget to take a look at all those loving “mutts” at your local Humane Society. There are some true beauties out there who are dying to give their love to you and the family!

benefits, Newfoundland, Golden Retriever, Collie, Cocker Spaniel, Bulldog, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, best breeds

Source:  GIG News

All Hail the Easter Bunny!

 

All Hail the Easter Bunny!

by Amy Lignor

From Country Living to Home and Garden to your very own traditions that began when your Grandmother was just a baby, there are things you can do for Easter that your friends, family and especially the children will never forget. You can even start new traditions that your own beautiful grandchild can carry on with their own kids one day.

creating new traditions, Easter, springtime, special gifts, DIY, Easter bunny, party, fun ideas

Let’s start with the Easter party. Perhaps you’re feeling on the ‘elegant’ side this year and want to throw a Sunday garden party or even a laid-back get-together to celebrate. If wanting to ‘go fancy’, make sure to send out that formal invitation to one and all, and include the words “Sunday dress” on the invite so that all will attend dressed in their Easter best! If looking to hold a more laid-back event, like a ‘hunt’ for the kids to enjoy, put together a special invitation that will have them all super-excited to discover those eggs and treats the Easter bunny left behind.

 

A little added touch can come from the Bunny Crown. These are for the little ones to wear as they search. You can fashion bunny ears out of flower-wrapped wire and then fasten to a faux-branch hoop. They are absolutely adorable and you can make them with any flowers you wish – from paper to real.

 

How about holding a Bike & Bonnet Hunt? If you have a lot of space, being the host of an Easter egg bike hunt is really cool. And you can provide colorful, fun bonnets so that all the families can have the perfect photo opportunity, a memento of the special day.

 

Now, we all know the Easter Basket is the mainstay of the holiday. But instead of heading to the big name box stores and sinking money into a $20.00 basket that lights up or sings, it is a far greater thing to make the baskets yourself. Kids love to make their own. It is something fun to do with your kids and the basket will mean a whole lot more. You can even think about using egg crates to decorate and make a game out of it. The first to fill every one of their egg slots wins a special prize. When it comes to Easter baskets, just search the Internet and you will discover hundreds of ideas that are literally one-of-a-kind!

 

This idea is the absolute cutest when it comes to Easter for the littlest ones. For toddlers, using Floating Eggs is super cool. Tie colorful balloons to each egg and place them all around the yard. You can even add some chocolate treats for the toddlers, or even little stuffed animals and gifts tied to the balloons. They are easy to find, of course, and they make the backyard look stunning for the Easter party.

 

Remember Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket? That was super cool. So…how about a Golden Egg? If you’re having a ‘hunt’, place one golden egg out there that holds inside it a special gift for the one who discovers it. But…make sure not to let the other kids down. Only one can receive the Golden Egg, but the rest of the kids can certainly have a ‘special’ gift all their own. Use your imagination!

 

Last, but not least, if you want something colorful that will add to the backyard or garden beauty, how about using pretty pastel plastic Easter eggs as planters? These little ‘pots’ are perfect to usher in springtime fun. All you need to get started are, plastic Easter eggs, a gold leaf marker, a hot glue gun, colorful tiles, potting soil, and your choice of succulents.

 

Simply remove the top half of a plastic Easter egg and paint the rim of the bottom half using a gold leaf marker. Using a hot gun to fill the holes on the inside of the egg bottom, glue the egg bottom to a hexagon tile, then fill with potting soil and a succulent. These really add brightness and color to both the Easter party and the back yard.

 

Make some wonderful new traditions this year and, above all, have a happy, peaceful Easter!

Source:  GIG News

Jacob’s Banter!

 

Jacob Latimore, The “Sleight” Interview, with Kam Williams, young breakout star, promising talents, Collateral Beauty, Ride AlongJacob Latimore

The “Sleight” Interview

with Kam Williams

Jacob’s Banter!

Jacob Latimore has been hailed by Variety, Indiewire and The Wrap as a young breakout star. Having emerged as one of the most promising talents of his generation, his upcoming films are from Academy Award-winning directors and writers where he stars alongside actors of that same caliber.

Jacob was most recently seen among the ensemble of celebrated thespians in the holiday season film Collateral Beauty, directed by Oscar-winner David Frankel. The picture follows the story of a once-successful businessman played by Will Smith, who has slipped into severe depression following a personal tragedy. His friends, played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet and Michael Pena, show concern when he begins writing letters to various objects on themes like time, love, and death which then show up as people played by Latimore, Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren.

Jacob just completed production on a yet-to be named crime drama with another Oscar-winning director, Kathryn Bigelow, and her Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal. That movie chronicles a police raid in Detroit in 1967 which resulted in one of the largest citizen uprisings in United States’ history. Also upcoming is the film Krystal, where Jacob joins William H. Macy, Felicity Huffman, Kathy Bates and Rosario Dawson in a romantic dramedy directed by Macy.

Earlier in his career, Jacob was featured in a couple of 2014’s biggest box office hits, playing Ramon in Ride Along opposite Ice Cube, Kevin Hart and John Leguizamo, and in the sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner. The year before, he starred as Langston in Black Nativity, working with alongside Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige and Nas. And prior to that, he made his feature film debut in a lead role in the post-apocalyptic thriller, Vanishing on 7th Street.

Besides acting, triple threat Jacob is a dancer and established R&B singer. After a number of hit singles, his debut album, Connection, was released last December.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jacob currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. Here, he talks about his latest movie, Sleight, where he stars as a street magician who starts dealing drugs to support himself and his sister after the death of their single-mom.

Jacob Latimore, The “Sleight” Interview, with Kam Williams, young breakout star, promising talents, Collateral Beauty, Ride Along

Kam Williams: Hi Jacob, thanks for the interview.

Jacob Latimore: Thanks for having me!

KW: What interested you in Sleight?

JL: Sleight is the kind of film you dream about. Sleight balanced the genres of science fiction, romance, family and reality in one story. I was completely drawn into the character and the complex issues he faces. It’s not often you get a script that allows you to stretch your own ability as an actor and I saw the ability to do that with this film.

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?

JL: It’s a genre-bending superhero origin story. Although it focuses on a street magician, Sleight ultimately is a story about the lengths a person will go to protect his family.

KW: How would you describe your character, Bo?

JL: Bo is a guy who is passionate about magic and in his own way strives to do something with his magic that has never been done before. He’s determined. Due to his parents deaths, he needed to grow up faster than he anticipated because he has to raise his younger sister. And what he learns as a grown-up affects everything he does.

KW: This was your first lead role. Did you feel a little extra pressure on the set knowing you were playing the protagonist.

JL: Not at all. Because I had to perform at a young age onstage and in the film Black Nativity among others, I have never been nervous about the roles I’ve taken, on or off the set. I’ve always been confident in my ability and I hope I bring that confidence to the set and to the characters I portray.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the movie?

JL: That’s a hard question. I’m not sure. I can tell you that I hope they will take away the importance of family and your individual role in the family unit. And I hope it inspires people to pursue their dreams in spite of adversity.

KW: You’re a triple threat: actor, singer, dancer. Which is your favorite?

JL: Had you asked me that question a year and a half ago, I would have said music. However, after working with Will Smith and Kathryn Bigelow and absorbing all that great experience from people who have done this for years, it’s more of a balance. I love performing and, whether it’s music, acting or dancing, I’m happy. I feel at home.

KW: You recently released your first album, “Connection.” How would you describe yourself, musically?

JL: Musically, R&B music has sort of always been the foundation of who I am as an artist, due to the influence of my dad and my uncles. At the core, that’s who I am, and I definitely wanted my first album to reflect it.

KW: You’re just 20 years-old. What’s been the secret to your success at such an early age?

JL: At the end of the day, it really comes down to your passion and what you are willing to do to pursue your dreams. You Jacob Latimore, The “Sleight” Interview, with Kam Williams, young breakout star, promising talents, Collateral Beauty, Ride Alonghave to be consistent, just like doing homework everyday. It’s practicing your craft to make yourself better. An important part of that is family support, which I’ve always had.

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

JL: Miles Morales’ Spider-Man movie. I’d love to do that.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?

JL: Migos’ “T-Shirt.”  https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01NAQ6SHR/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

JL: I know how to cook several things. I’m great with breakfast, like some really good eggs with a little garlic seasoning and salt and pepper on lightly-toasted bread.

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?

JL: When I was younger, music was an inspiration from Michael Jackson to my family. Although I did love to watch great television like the Cosby Show and actors like Denzel and Will Smith, I always loved great films, and I think that overall inspiration prepped me for what I do today.

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

JL: Be kind to EVERYONE!

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

JL: Very easy. World peace.

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

JL: Michael Myers [Halloween franchise]

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

JL: Thank you so much, Kam. I really appreciate your taking the time to talk with me.

Source:  GIG News

Rapport with Moore!

 

Shemar Moore, "The Bounce Back” Interview, Derek Morgan, Criminal MindsShemar Moore

“The Bounce Back” Interview

with Kam Williams

Rapport with Moore!

Shemar Franklin Moore was born in Oakland, California on April 20, 1970 to an African-American father and a mother of Irish and French-Canadian extraction. Shemar spent his early years abroad with his single-mom in Denmark and Bahrain until the two returned from the exotic locales in 1977.

They settled in Palo Alto, where he graduated from Henry Gunn High School before studying Communications and Theater at Santa Clara University. While still in school, he started modeling on the side to help pay the bills.

Since college, Shemar has flourished both as an actor and as a fashion model. He’s probably best known for playing Derek Morgan on the TV-series Criminal Minds for 11 seasons and for the 8 years he spent prior to that as Malcolm Winters on the popular soap opera, The Young and the Restless.

Here, he talks about starring opposite Nadine Velazquez and Bill Bellamy in the big screen release, The Bounce Back.

Kam Williams: Hi Shemar, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Shemar Moore: Well, I appreciate your taking the time to show me love and to talk about the movie, Kam.

KW: What interested you in The Bounce Back?

SM: It was the sweet, fun script that had been around about a decade. But it’s all about timing. 10 years ago, I was just getting my feet planted with Criminal Minds. It didn’t work out with my schedule back then. Fortunately, the script came back around. I thought it was a silly, fun, sweet story.that people would like. To be honest, in the beginning, I knew that the transition from Criminal Minds was on the horizon, so I started thinking about the next steps I could take as an actor, going forward with my career. After unsuccessfully shopping the script around, I seized upon the opportunity to produce the film myself. I said, “Why not go the independent route?” I felt that I could identify with the Matthew Taylor character. I just needed some help with the others. So, I went and found Bill Bellamy who I’d so much fun and chemistry with on The Brothers years ago. I knew he could deliver the jokes and bring the relationship of being my best friend and manager to life. He liked the idea and we knew Nadine Velazquez from within our circle of friends. We showed her the script. She was interested, and pieces kinda of fell into place from there. And the next thing you know, here I was executive producing the picture, and raising $630,000 through my fan base. I call them my Baby Girls. It was a great hug and pat on my back that they believed in me and were so loyal to me. I’m very proud that we not only made a movie, but got it out into theaters, and that my Baby Girl Nation was a part of it.

Shemar Moore, "The Bounce Back” Interview, Derek Morgan, Criminal Minds

KW: How similar are you to your character, Matthew Taylor?

SM: As an actor, I find the essence and elements of myself in any character I play. I think I believe a little bit of Matthew’s philosophy and a little bit of Kristin Peralta’s (Nadine Velazquez’s character’s) philosophy. One can’t exist without the other. Love is a tricky, beautiful, exciting, complicated, elusive entity. But it hits when you least expect it. Matthew Taylor figured it out, and so did Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds, towards the end. So. now it’s Shemar Moore’s turn. I’m a romantic, and I believe in love.

KW: The Bounce Back has a nice twist at the end.

SM: What I love about this movie is that we didn’t try to reinvent the wheel but we did find an original way to tell a love story about falling in love, the heartache of being betrayed and still having the courage and faith to fall back in love, and from both the male and female perspective. It illustrates that relationships are about standing strong, and about making compromises, too.

KW: What would you say is the movie’s message?

SM: Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t forget to smile and have fun.Celebrate today. Be open to love, because it doesn’t come easy. But when it does, it’s so beautiful. It’s a magical feeling! Another thing I love about this movie is its diversity. There’s a bunch of color in it, but it’s telling a colorless, universal story. It’s a story that everybody can relate to, regardless of how old or what color you are. It’s a movie that gives you a sense of hope and makes you feel good about who you are.

KW: Are you more interested in movie than TV work now? TV series are very demanding.

SM: Everybody’s ultimate goal is to be a movie star like the Brad Pitts, the Matt Damons, the George Clooneys and the Tom Cruises. of course, I’d be lying, if I didn’t admit that I’d like to see my career materialize in that way. But The Young and the Restless was like high school. Criminal Minds was college. Now, I’m ready for grad school. It’s a blessing to be on a hit show. But, you’re right, it’s a grind. That’s something people don’t realize, unless they’re in the business. 9 to16 hour days for 8 days. And day 9 is day 1 of the next episode. It’s a grind for 10 months out of the year. But a beautiful grind. Am I still willing to do television? Yes. Am I intrigued by cable TV? I am. True Detective, Game of Thrones and Ray Donovan are some of my favorite shows. I just want to see what the next chapter is in terms of my telling stories. But I’m also having fun wearing this producer hat. To me, producing is paying attention to detail, connecting dots, understanding actors’ chemistry, putting all the parts together, and bringing the story to life. So, I think you’re going to see me doing a little of both, although

Shemar Moore, "The Bounce Back” Interview, Derek Morgan, Criminal Minds

I’m definitely chasing Mark Wahlberg, Jamie [Foxx], Denzel [Washington] and those other guys. I want to get on the same train they’re on. I’ve been doing this thing for 24 years, and I hope to do it for another 30, and those are the type of footsteps I hope to follow in. I’m excited and inspired by them.

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

SM: I can’t think of one off the top of my head. But a lot of people say I should do Harry Belafonte’s life story. That would be quite the honor, if it ever came my way. I want to do films like Jason Bourne, The Equalizer, Begin Again and When a Man Loves a Woman. Films with great content. Plus, I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline that I’d like to produce. This is just the beginning. I’m still finding out what’s out there for me to do.

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

SM: My earliest childhood memory? Wow, that’s interesting! I remember kicking around a soccer ball when I was barely able to run around yet. I also remember leaving my Curious George doll that I loved in a taxi when I was about 3  We’d gotten out of the cab quickly because my mother was in a rush. I literally screamed, “My George! My George!” as I watched the car drive off, and my George was gone forever. I don’t know why, but I still remember the tail lights of the taxi as it pulled away. It broke my heart.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

SM: I’m not the best cook, but I like to bake. I can make basic stuff like tacos and a brown paper bag pork chop. My cousin’s mom showed me how to do that. But I’m more of a sweet tooth guy. So, I’ll make some cheesecake, oatmeal cookies or chocolate chip cookies.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?

SM: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with home made chocolate chip cookies. I’ll put a little fudge on it and sprinkle a few walnuts on top. That’s a party in your mouth!

KW: The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?

SM: I’m very blessed to be in Hollywood, but I refuse to be Hollywood. I’m just a regular dude with extraordinary circumstances. For the red carpet, you put on your outfit, you flip the switch, you flash the smile, and you swag it out. For me, it’s work, but it’s not work. It’s more like play time. I feel so grateful that I never take it for granted that I have the opportunity to be in this line of work. I’m so fortunate to be able to attend these events and to hobnob and have your picture taken with some of the most talented and interesting people in the entertainment industry and in the world. I’ve met some fascinating and phenomenal people. And  I’m always star-struck to a certain extent. I pinch myself and say, “Wow! This is really my life.” And away from showbiz, I’m a homebody. I’m in sweats or jeans and a t-shirt. I love my two bulldogs  I take care of my mom, my partner in crime. She drives me crazy, but that’s my momma. I listen to music… I watch sports… I hang out with friends… I’m a pretty normal cat. People who know me a long time see that I haven’t changed. My circumstances have changed, but I’m the same old guy I was before Hollywood.

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

SM: You know what I look for when I look in the mirror? I make sure the little kid in me is still alive and still has a smile on his face. I make sure that that little innocent boy is being taken care of. I don’t let life get to me too tough. I don’t celebrate myself too tough. And I don’t get down on myself too tough. As corny as it may sound, I tell my fans that what they’re witnessing is the journey of a dreamer. And I look to see if I’m taking care of myself. I can tell when I’m tired. I can tell when I’m feeling good. I just check in with myself and tell myself everyday to tell the truth, have fun, and go for what you want by any means necessary.

Shemar Moore, "The Bounce Back” Interview, Derek Morgan, Criminal Minds

KW: I know you’ve lived in a number of foreign countries. How many languages do you speak?

SM: Yeah, but I was a kid. Technically, my first language was Danish, but it was broken Danish. I was in Denmark from 6 months to 3 years of age. So, I only remember the word for “move,” although my mother, to this day, speaks it fluently. My mom grew up outside Montreal. My maternal grandmother was French-Canadian. She’s passed away now, but she was born in Quebec City. She would always greet me in French. So, I took French when I was in 7th and 8th grade to impress grandma. I still remember a little broken French, but I don’t speak another language fluently.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?

SM: My mother, Marilyn Wilson Moore, was my mentor. I didn’t grow up with my father, but I did have different male role models along the way. My mother’s brother, Uncle Steven Wilson, was like a rock for me. And later on, my high school baseball coach, Melvin Harrison, who’s up in heaven smiling down on me,  was like a father to me. Those three were the foundation for me to feel love and guidance, and to grow up and believe in what I was capable of.

KW: The Anthony Mackie question: Is there anything that you promised yourself you’d do if you became famous, that you still haven’t done yet?

SM: One thing I was able to do was to buy my mother a home. I bought her a beachfront condo in Redondo Beach. That’s one of the things I’m proudest of that I’ve ever done in my life. On my Bucket List was becoming successful enough to be able to give back to my mom.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

SM: [LOL] You’re fun! Let’s see… my driver’s license… a Starbucks card… a Best Buy card… a AAA card… a gift card to a place where I like to get massages… and 63 dollars. I need to go to the ATM because New York City is no joke. [Chuckles]

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

SM: Alright, Kam. Appreciate you, man.

Source:  GIG News

Architecture in America That Would Make Frank Lloyd Wright Proud

 

Architecture in America That Would Make Frank Lloyd Wright Proud

by Amy Lignor

There is a brand new headline when it comes to an innovative new building; a building that the creator hopes to construct in America. It is a design that looks stunning on paper, however, it is also a design that is ‘far right’ of, well…even Wright’s own ideas.

A conceptual design by Oiio Studio proposes “the Big Bend” as Manhattan’s longest (not tallest) residential building. Photo: Oiio Studio.

Manhattan, as everyone knows by now, is the King of the skyscraper business. They are also always striving, along with Seattle, Chicago and others, to own the tallest building in America, let alone the world. Greek architect Ioannis Oikonomou and his firm, Oiio Studio, may just be the ones to give Manhattan this glory.

Not only could he break the “tallest” record with his idea, but he would also create one of the most interesting, beautiful, yet slightly supernatural looking building in all the land. This would be a U-shaped tower that’s along the lines of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis or the first big drop on a roller coaster as far as construction is concerned. It will also be the “longest” structure and has already been assigned the name, “Big Bend.” A skinny skyscraper bent in half, if you measured from end to end it would be approximately 4,000 feet. The stretch running from the sidewalk to the building’s peak directly in its center would make it 200 feet taller than One World Trade Center was; thus, creating the longest/tallest skyscraper.

It already has a place, of course. If everything were to go perfectly and investors signed on to the project, “Big Bend” would be built on the south corner of Central Park. You know the area as Billionaire’s Row.

It is not a stretch to say that this is a design that very well could come to fruition. And although it would come in as the longest skyscraper, it would not be the “strangest” architectural site that America has to offer. You see, almost every state can claim one site that is so beautiful, unique, or just simply odd that tourists go to see them every year.

Just take a look at a few…

In Alaska, the “Dr. Seuss House” can be found in a place called Willow. Although this is an unofficial name, the beloved author would be proud to see it. The 12 stories, that sat untouched for ten years and was only recently completed, resembles the illustrated homes that Seuss was famous for.

In Arkansas, A stunning architectural work of art comes in the form of Thorncrown Chapel. Wood and stone were used to create the structure, yet a wandering eye that wandered too quickly would see it as just a chapel sitting in the middle of the forest completely abandoned. But don’t let the eyes deceive, because this is one chapel that is not “buried in overgrowth and weeds.” Up close, it is actually enclosed by huge glass panels on all four sides and is truly a sight to behold.

A favorite of many can be found in the state of Connecticut. Gillette Castle is an awe-inspiring site, whether seeing it on land or from a boat staring up at the hill it sits upon. This is a very odd stone monstrosity that was commissioned by William Gillette, who was an American actor best known for playing the role of Sherlock Holmes. He was also a man with a sense of humor and a whole lot of bad luck. In his Will, he stated that the castle was never supposed to be owned by (and I quote): “a blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” Seeing as that the state now owns it, seems that Gillette did not get his wish after all.

For those who love their canines, in the state of Idaho you can find The Dog Bark Park Inn. Locals call this structure “Sweet Willy” and the building is two stories built and painted to look like a beagle. Best dog-themed B&B out there in America. A real “treat” for both you and your special friend.

In Michigan you are granted a look at the Earl Young Mushroom Houses; in Oklahoma, the “Arts & Crafts” House (AKA: The Bavinger House) is also something you’ll never forget. Oddly enough, when it comes to alien beings, it is not Roswell, NM but actually Signal Mountain, Tennessee where you must go to see “The Spaceship House.” Built in 1972 for his son, the owner created this UFO-shaped home with interior décor that is totally round (even the furniture) and a drop-down staircase that allows you to “climb up” and enter the alien transport from the ground below.

But you really can’t speak about “odd” architecture without at least throwing in the name everyone knows. In Dodgeville, Wisconsin, “The House on the Rock” may have a bland name, but the oddities of the building came from the minds of builder Alex Jordan Jr., and designer Frank Lloyd Wright. This is a rural home, but inside you will find everything from the world’s largest indoor carousel to something called ‘The Infinity Room’, which is cantilevered and projected out over 200 feet beyond the actual rock the house sits on. Talk about a view, aye?

It will be interesting to see if investors jump at the chance to construct “Big Bend” in Manhattan and give the already beautiful spot even more cred. But even without it, take some time to research the stunning architecture that has been a part of the U.S.A. for a long time – some are even in your neck of the woods. Because even with the mastermind Wright gone, at least we can be proud that “over-the-top” designs continue to be a part of our architectural universe.

 

Source:  GIG News

Caro on the Straight and Narrow

 

Niki Caro,  "The Zookeeper's Wife” Interview, New Zealand, Director/screenwriter, Whale Rider, North Country, Holocaust, Jessica ChastainNiki Caro

“The Zookeeper’s Wife” Interview

with Kam Williams
Caro on the Straight and Narrow

Director/screenwriter Niki Caro is one of the most successful filmmakers to emerge from New Zealand. After completing a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Film from Swinburne in Melbourne, Australia, Niki wrote and directed a number of highly-acclaimed shorts.

Sure to Rise screened at the 1994 Cannes International Film Festival, and Footage was shown at the 1996 Venice International Film Festival. Her first full-length feature, Memory & Desire, focused on a Japanese married couple and was selected for Critics Week at the 1998 Cannes International Film Festival. It went on to win four New Zealand Film and Television Awards, including Best Film.

Niki’s sophomore offering, Whale Rider, explored the Maori community of Whangara on New Zealand’s East Coast, and made an impact globally. Whale Rider was seen by millions of people and won over two dozen prizes around the world, including top honors at the Toronto (the People’s Choice Award), Sundance (the Audience Award), Rotterdam, San Francisco, Maui, and Seattle (Best Film) Film Festivals. The film’s star Keisha Castle-Hughes landed an Academy Award nomination for Best Lead Actress, becoming what was then the youngest nominee ever in the category.

Niki next directed North Country, a drama set on the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. The film starred Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson. Theron and McDormand were nominated for Oscars in the Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.

Continuing to illuminate real lives and real communities onscreen, Niki directed the sleeper hit McFarland, USA, starring Kevin Costner. Set in California’s Central Valley, the inspirational docudrama chronicled the real-life exploits of an all-Latino cross-country track team.

Here, Niki talks about her new film, The Zookeeper’s Wife, a World War II biopic starring Jessica Chastain as an intrepid heroine who saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust.

Niki Caro,  "The Zookeeper's Wife” Interview, New Zealand, Director/screenwriter, Whale Rider, North Country, Holocaust, Jessica Chastain

Kam Williams: Hi Niki, thanks for the interview. I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Niki Caro: Oh, that’s very kind of you to say, Kam.

KW: I love all your films. In fact, your last one, McFarland, USA, was #13 on my Top 100 list for 2015.

NC: That’s amazing! You’ve made my day.

KW: I was really moved by it, as I was by this one. I went into the theater a little skeptical about the plot. Even though it’s true, a story about a woman saving both zoo animals and hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust just sounded a little farfetched. Yet, you had me weeping by the end of the picture.

NC: Great!

KW: What interested you in The Zookeeper’s Wife?

NC: The radical humanity of the Zabinskis.

KW: Was that from reading the book?

NC: No, I’m ashamed to have to admit I hadn’t. Neither had I ever heard of Antonina Zabinski [played by Jessica Chastain], let alone of the role she played in history. Here was this intriguing story in script form that I couldn’t believe was true. And yet it was. I felt it offered a really new way to talk about the Holocaust, a way that really spoke about heart, hope and humanity. And about feelings too.

KW: The movie has many tasteful touches of humor. How did you manage to do that without offending the audience? How do you know what humor will or won’t work when you’re dealing with such serious subject matter? It must be hard making sure you don’t cross a line.

NC: Well, I always take my inspiration from the true story, which in this case was Antonina. It was wonderful to me that her instinct to nurture and protect animals translated so effortlessly to the human species. And the way she created a sanctuary was so feminine. That influenced the filmmaking in a very big way. It’s a very feminine look at the Holocaust. It certainly speaks about war in a very feminine fashion. Of course, war didn’t just happen to men, as many war movies suggest. It also happened to women, to children and to animals, and I felt that this film uniquely gave them a voice. And it gave women, in particular, a way to express femininity as strength.

KW: Absolutely! I definitely don’t remember ever seeing war presented so intimately from a woman’s perspective.

NC: Well, there you go. We’re still somewhat unfamiliar with stories being told from a female’s point-of-view. So, i hope that makes this story kind of fresh.

KW: It sure does. After I saw the film, I couldn’t help but wonder why the movie wasn’t released during awards season. This movie has Oscars written all over it.

NC: That wasn’t my decision. There are a whole lot of factors that are weighed in determining when a movie’s released, and none of those determinations are made by the filmmaker. [Laughs] But I’m really happy it’s being released now.

KW: I point it out only because you’ve already directed three actresses to Academy Award nominations, and Jessica Chastain does such a terrific job, here. I just think the film would get serious Oscar consideration, if it were released in November or December.

NC: It still could. And if that is the case, it will really have earned it, because it will have stuck in people’s minds.

KW: What is your secret to coaxing Oscar-quality performances out of actresses?

NC: Gosh! the first secret is in casting really great actresses with whom I can have a genuine collaboration, and remain open to their contributions and their brilliance. I try to create an environment on set where they feel very secure and very supported, so that they can take risks and do what I hope is some of their best work.    

KW: When did you develop your interest in directing? Were you one of those kids who was constantly playing around with a video camera as a child?

NC: No, playing around with video cameras was not from my generation. [Chuckles] I never even saw a movie camera until I was in my late teens. I loved movies, but I didn’t necessarily think I could make them. Growing up in New Zealand, I thought of movies as something that Americans made until I saw a film by Jane Campion.

KW: The Piano?

NC: No, her first film, Sweetie. That movie knocked me sideways. I couldn’t believe it, because I recognized it. And I must admit it’s super-weird. But, for the first time, I saw something I recognized from my own world. That gave me a huge amount of confidence. And I remain incredibly inspired by her.I’m a great, big fan of hers. 

KW: Who are some of your other favorite directors?

NC: Back then, I felt very similarly about the work of another New Zealand filmmaker, Vincent Ward. Now, in terms of what I’ve seen recently. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight was absolutely stunning. And so was Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. I love musicals. He’s adorable, Damien. A lovely person. And so talented.

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

NC: I remember the joyousness of sitting in the bath at the age of 3, listening to the radio with my dad and singing “Me and Bobby McGee” at the top of my voice.

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

NC: Oh God! [Chuckles] I see myself.

  

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

NC: Sorry, I’m drawing a blank. I’ve been asked so many questions.

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

NC: I want to see that new Kong movie, but monsters isn’t so much my preferred genre.

  

KW: What is your favorite genre?

NC: I love drama, obviously, especially when it’s really human, when it’s funny, and when it lifts me out of my world. And I love documentary, too.

KW: Tell me a little about your upcoming film, Callas. I assume that’s about Maria Callas.

NC: Yes, it’s a project I’ve been working on for a very long time, and won’t be making in the near future, because I’m moving on to Mulan. But Maria is very special to me.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

NC: I have two passports, a picture of my mother, my brother and me on a very unremarkable-looking beach. And some pictures of my kids, and a bunch of airline cards.

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

NC: Thank you so much, Kam. Have a good evening.

Source:  GIG News

2017 Hobbies That Bring You Serenity

 

2017 Hobbies That Bring You Serenity

by Amy Lignor

 

Origami. Memory albums. Quilting. What do these have in common? Well, at one point or another in time, they have represented the “hottest” hobbies in the United States. Taking up hobbies are not only a fun thing to do for the “artistic/creative” type, but they also help to reduce stress. Even the AMA has cited the fact that taking up a hobby can produce a calming environment that helps the heart and engages the mind. People who immerse themselves in a hobby that’s fun for them can ease the negative effects that daily stress puts on the shoulders of everyone.

 

Origami. Memory albums. Quilting. What do these have in common? Well, at one point or another in time, they have represented the “hottest” hobbies in the United States. Taking up hobbies are not only a fun thing to do for the “artistic/creative” type, but they also help to reduce stress. Even the AMA has cited the fact that taking up a hobby can produce a calming environment that helps the heart and engages the mind. People who immerse themselves in a hobby that’s fun for them can ease the negative effects that daily stress puts on the shoulders of everyone.So, what are the hobbies that people are being ‘drawn’ to in 2017? Well, the first actually comes from the world of painting. Watercolors are a whole lot of fun. No, you do not have to be a “master” to have a good time. This is not a stressful art; in fact, there are a great number of people who are looking up various pics on Google and illustrations on Instagram and creating these in watercolors in their very own ‘studio’ at home. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish by simply looking at the numerous free tutorials available on YouTube. You may even get so into the hobby that you end up moving forward with art classes, and the supplies to begin will not take a bite out of your budget.

 

There is always a hobby/art located in the world of sewing that springs up from time to time to engage the mind. 2017 looks to be the year for bringing back embroidery. This is an art that allows people on a very limited budget to purchase the supplies and make pieces that are truly beautiful. If you have ever had the pleasure of watching “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS, you can see how far back embroidery was established and utilized in this country to make true pieces of Americana that have lasted a good, long time. By taking up this hobby, there may just be a few out there who not only find they are excellent at the craft, but also produce works that become a part of history.

 

One very popular art form that has come back into the world is handwriting. In a time period where computers have taken over and schools are actually (if they haven’t all done so already) taking penmanship out of the curriculum, it is wonderful to see people taking up everything from hand-lettering to calligraphy. Now, computers do come in handy for this hobby because thousands of tutorials can be found all over the Internet that allow people to really learn and gain this amazing artistic talent. And when it comes to supplies, stationery stores, Hobby Lobby, even Walmart can supply the future calligraphy artist with everything they need. Handwriting is necessary, and the world needs those future scribes.

 

Origami. Memory albums. Quilting. What do these have in common? Well, at one point or another in time, they have represented the “hottest” hobbies in the United States. Taking up hobbies are not only a fun thing to do for the “artistic/creative” type, but they also help to reduce stress. Even the AMA has cited the fact that taking up a hobby can produce a calming environment that helps the heart and engages the mind. People who immerse themselves in a hobby that’s fun for them can ease the negative effects that daily stress puts on the shoulders of everyone.Some out there may want to delve into a more industrial/physical hobby. Not a problem, because there are many coming back that have been gone far too long. One is blacksmithing. Woodworking is a special talent and with blacksmithing all you have to add on is a fire/furnace, an anvil, and exchange the wood for some steel to make a piece that has the entire neighborhood talking.

 

Yet another hobby that has actually turned into a business for many and has allowed them to bring in the cash, comes in the form of brewing beer. Not only is the trial and error a whole lot of fun, but it’s also a real thrill when you can create a new beer and share it with your friends. For anyone who wishes to begin, the American Homebrewer’s Association at homebrewersassociation.org is a great place to start. Who knows? Maybe you will be the one to come up with the “perfect” brew that people really enjoy.

 

One hobby that comes and goes is photography. Now, with all the cool digital equipment on the market, this is a slightly more expensive hobby to take up, but also extremely relaxing. Snapping those spectacular photos calms the mind and sets people in various environments that offer up serenity – like heading out on a hike and ending up at the perfect waterfall to catch on film.

 

Speaking of waterfalls…one very big hobby that is appearing this year from coast to coast comes in the form of fly fishing.
Going up into those woods, or finding that perfect, calm lake or stream armed with just the rod, a line, a fly and a whole lot of patience – fly fishing is all about peace and harmony with nature. Landing the best trout that has ever been seen is also an added extra bonus if the day goes really well.

 

So if you’re wishing to graduate and move on from those adult coloring books, or looking for a hobby that appeals to your sense of fun and tranquility, start researching now. In 2017, there is a whole buffet of hobbies to choose from.

Origami. Memory albums. Quilting. What do these have in common? Well, at one point or another in time, they have represented the “hottest” hobbies in the United States. Taking up hobbies are not only a fun thing to do for the “artistic/creative” type, but they also help to reduce stress. Even the AMA has cited the fact that taking up a hobby can produce a calming environment that helps the heart and engages the mind. People who immerse themselves in a hobby that’s fun for them can ease the negative effects that daily stress puts on the shoulders of everyone.

Source:  Rocky Mountain Weekly

Badinage with Brother Hodge!

 

Aldis Hodge and Janelle Monae in a scene from Hidden FiguresAldis Hodge 

The “Underground / Hidden Figures” Interview

with Kam Williams

Badinage with Brother Hodge!

Aldis Hodge is perhaps best known for his role as Alec Hardison on the TNT series Leverage which nabbed a People’s Choice Award in 2013, in addition to his role as MC Ren in  Straight Outta Compton. Furthermore, he starred in the Amazon pilot The After and enjoyed a recurring role on the AMC Revolutionary War drama Turn: Washington’s Spies.

Aldis appeared opposite Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page in the eco-terrorism thriller “The East.” And he appeared in A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest installment of the “Die Hard” franchise.

Aldis started his career at 3 as a model for print ads and commercials. He made the transition to the small screen when he and his brother Edwin were cast on Sesame Street. Later, they joined the Tony-winning revival of Showboat on Broadway.

During that period, he parlayed his success on stage into a movie career, debuting in Die Hard with a Vengeance, before making Bed of Roses, The Stone House, Edmond, The Ladykillers and Big Momma’s House. Aldis’ television roles include the critically-acclaimed series Friday Night Lights, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Girlfriends, American Dreams, City of Angels, Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, Cold Case, Charmed and Boston Public.

Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but raised in New York and New Jersey, Aldis is an avid scriptwriter, designer and painter in addition to acting. Here, he talks about playing Levi Jackson in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and about reprising the role of Noah on the television series Underground about the Underground Railroad which just started its second season on the WGN America network. 

Kam Williams: Hi Aldis, I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Aldis Hodge: I appreciate your time as well, Kam.

KW: Congratulations on the second season of Underground. What first interested you in doing the series?

AH: I enjoyed the way the story was written. I was intrigued by the narrative showing people rising up and fighting for their freedom. 

KW: What can we expect to see new this season.

AH: I’ll put it like this, brother. Everybody thought it couldn’t get crazier or more dangerous, but it does. Last year, everyone was focused on this idea of freedom and just getting off the plantation without contemplating the harsh reality of what that really meant. At the end of the season, we were pretty much split up. Now, you get a pretty introspective view of each character. We’re all dealing with the consequences of what transpired last season in our own way. My character, Noah, was learning what it meant to try to be a leader. This season, he’s learning more about who he is as a man. Right now, the strength of his love for Rosalee [played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell] is more important to him than freedom, whereas last year was purely about survival.

KW: What’s it like acting opposite Jurnee?

AH: She’s awesome! That’s my road dog right there. Our characters go through so much together this season that we have to depend on each other emotionally as actors. We didn’t share a lot of scenes together because our story focuses on Noah and Rosalee’s trying to get back to each other. We see that their love transcends their situation. There’s still a very powerful connection between them, and we had to develop that. So, we had to take a different approach, and Jurnee was there 100% of the way. She is an absolute beast!

Aldis Hodge, The “Underground / Hidden Figures”, Interview with Kam Williams

Aldis Hodge and Janelle Monae in a scene from Hidden Figures

KW: What’s it been like working a real-life icon, Harriet Tubman, into the story?

AH: It’s great that we get to honor Tubman’s legacy through a real-life representation, although we’d already paid tribute to her last season. It’s not really a different approach. The only thing that’s changed is that we have a fantastic actress in Aisha Hinds materializing Tubman. Aisha does a fantastic job of enabling us to explore who Harriet Tubman was.

KW: Congratulations on Hidden Figures’ win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Were you surprised?

AH: It was a huge surprise. We were all blown away. The girls [Taraji P. Hensen, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer] were all crying, and I think I might have dropped a tear or two, too. The film has gotten so much love. It was awesome because this award was coming directly from a pool of several hundred thousand actors. Our peers! So, we were very grateful. 

KW: Why do you think Hidden Figures has made the most money of all the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar?

AH: It’s absolutely because of the message. Granted, a big part is that people will go to the theater and enjoy it. But I think the primary reason it’s been so effective is that it represents the antidote to some of the cultural issues we’re still dealing with as a nation. It illustrates what can be accomplished when you look beyond the prejudices and stereotypes and allow equality to win out overall. These women accomplished what they did in spite of segregated bathrooms, and not having equal pay or the right to vote. That made it an inspiring film for both little girls and boys. It’s exactly what America needs right now.    

KW: Your mom is from the South and your father is from Dominica. Did they ever talk to you when you were growing up about any racial discrimination they experienced?   

AH: Yes,my mom experienced racism. She was harassed by the KKK several times. And I experienced racism myself, growing up. In New Jersey, we had trash thrown on our lawn every day. And we had the lines to our Christmas lights cut three years in a row. We just stopped putting up Christmas lights after that. That’s probably why I still don’t put up any lights during the holidays. People talk about Jim Crow as if it’s dead. Jim Crow isn’t gone. It’s adjusted. Look at the disproportionate sentences meted out to blacks caught up in the criminal justice system. There’s a problem when people profit from putting and keeping African-Americans in prison. We need to do a better job as a nation understanding the real values the country’s built upon in terms of fairness, equality and equal opportunity. That’s why I like being a part of projects like Hidden Figures and Underground. They illustrate mistakes of the past we need not repeat, as well as the beauty of the progress achieved when everybody cares about the underprivileged.    

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia says: I recently saw Hidden Figures and I loooooved it! I even started to read the book before there was talk about releasing the film. Were you familiar with the role these women had played in the NASA space program before you got the script?

AH: Yes, but I didn’t know much beyond the fact that there were these black, female mathematicians who had accomplished this great feat.

KW: Patricia continues: You write scripts. Is there a story special to you that you would like to see turned into a film?

AH: Yes, I have a few projects that I’m already working on right now that I have to keep under wraps. I also think the Emmett Till story needs to be told, because his accuser just came out and admitted that her story wasn’t true, and because his murderers bragged about lynching him after they were acquitted, since they couldn’t be tried twice. Again, problems with the legal system.

KW: Lastly, Patricia says: Your parents served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Did you travel a lot with them growing up? If so, was it useful in your up bringing?

AH: Yeah, when I was younger, we moved from North Carolina to Hawaii, and then from Hawaii to New Jersey. Nowadays, my job keeps me traveling on a regular basis, and I think my childhood did prepare me for it.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

AH: [LOL]  What’s in my wallet? Just my business card.

KW: Keep up the good work, Aldis, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

AH: Likewise, Kam. Thank you.


Source:  GIG News