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Entertainment

J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise help a retired sheriff’s deputy shine on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’

choir 600Retired sheriff's deputy Ezra Harris of Chattanooga, Tenn. gained national headlines after a YouTube video of his mangled rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at a memorial service went viral and gained over 1.3 million views as "worst rendition of the national anthem ever."

Recently, Harris got a second chance of sorts and some backup. The vocal support came from the Stellar Award nominated urban inspirational music ensemble J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise. The group stopped by the New York studios of ABC's "Good Morning America" for a special makeover week music segment.

Producers of the No. 1 rated morning show decided to give Harris a chance to redo the anthem during its "do over" week makeovers this past week. Staffers called in J.J. Hairston and country music star Dierks Bentley to individually coach Harris on how to sing the song and to memorize the lyrics.

  • Written by Tri-State Defender Newsroom

Nia Long: ‘The Single Moms Club’ interview

NiaLong 600Stunningly-attractive leading lady Nia Long returned to the big screen last fall in the highly-anticipated sequel "The Best Man Holiday" where she reunited with original cast mates Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut and Harold Perrineau. Early last year, she joined the all-star cast of Showtime's "House of Lies" alongside Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell.

Here, Nia talks about co-starring as May in "The Single Moms Club" opposite her son Massai, as well as Amy Smart, Zulay Henao, Tyler Perry, Terry Crews, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Cocoa Brown.

Oscar Predictions 2014

OscarPredictions 600"12 Years a Slave" is benefiting from the most Best Picture buzz as we approach Oscar night, although this is shaping up as one of those rare years when the award for Best Director will probably go to a different film, "Gravity." Look for "12 Years" to net only a trio of statuettes overall, with "Gravity" likely landing seven.

"12 Years a Slave" is the sort of elaborate historical drama the voters just love to recognize, as reflected in such past picks as "The King's Speech," "Gladiator," "Shakespeare in Love," "Titanic," "The English Patient," "Schindler's List," "Driving Miss Daisy," "The Last Emperor," "Amadeus" and "Out of Africa," to name a few. And since the Anglophilic Academy ostensibly is impressed by English accents, it will also help that "12 Years: is a British production.

Besides forecasting the winners, I also suggest which nominees in each category are actually the most deserving. Furthermore, because some great performances are invariably overlooked by the Academy entirely, I also point out some who should've at least been nominated.

OPENING THIS WEEK: Kam’s Kapsules

kamkapsule220 600For movies opening Feb. 21, 2014

BIG BUDGET FILMS

"3 Days to Kill" (PG-13 for sensuality, profanity and intense violence) McG directs this espionage thriller by Luc Besson about an ailing spy (Kevin Costner) who grudgingly agrees to crack a terrorist plot when he'd rather retire to spend some quality time with his teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and estranged wife (Connie Nielsen). Cast includes Amber Heard, Eriq Ebouaney and Richard Sammel.

"Pompeii" (PG-13 for intense violence, disaster scenes and brief sexuality) Romance drama, set in 79 A.D. against the backdrop of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, revolving around the efforts of a slave-turned-gladiator (Kit Harrington) to rescue his soul mate (Emily Browning) before she is forced by her wealthy father (Jared Harris) into an arranged marriage to a crooked politician (Kiefer Sutherland). With Rebecca Eady, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sasha Roiz and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

 

Forest Whitaker: The ‘Repentance’ interview

forestw 600Forest Whitaker is a distinguished artist and humanist. He is the founder of PeaceEarth Foundation, co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace and is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation.

He is also a talented, versatile performer and one of Hollywood's most accomplished figures. Here, he talks about his latest movie, "Repentance," a psychological thriller co-starring Anthony Mackie, Sanaa Lathan, Nicole Ari Parker and Mike Epps.

Kam Williams: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: "What interested you in producing and starring in "Repentance?"
Forest Whitaker: I'd say the fact that it's a movie that talks about dealing with your past issues and past pain, and being able to move forward in the future from that. I think that's a lesson that we all have to deal with and learn from. In addition, the film offered me a great opportunity to do a really interesting character with an amazing cast of actors, and to be directed by a friend and associate, one of my partners. We own a company together. So, a lot of things came together to make this happen for us.

 

We want the funk!

funkyconcert 600Clear Channel's WDIA-V101 "We Love You Valentine Concert" held at Harrah's Casino Event Center in Tunica was funktastic and just what old school enthusiasts like myself needed.

Here's my snapshot review of the Saturday night show.

The Jones Girls were the opening act, treating the packed house with songs such "Runaway Love," "Nights Over Egypt," and "You Gonna Make Me Love Somebody Else." Lead singer Brenda Elaine Jones Williams is the only original member still in the group. Still, this group of "Jones Girls" set a good tone for the rest of the night.

 

  • Written by Warren Roseborough/Special to The New Tri-State Defender

This week’s DVD releases

dvdrelease 600Top Ten DVD list for Feb. 18, 2014

"Game of Thrones: The Complete Third Season"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00C8CQTJY/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

"Silver Screen Romances" (8 Movie Collection)
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GOC752E/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

"For the Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00GOC7538/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

"The Ellen Show: The Complete Series"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00H4WGH22/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Kam’s Kapsules: OPENING THIS WEEK

robocop 600BIG BUDGET FILMS

"About Last Night" (PG-13 for profanity, sexuality and brief drug use) A modern reimagining of the 1986 romantic comedy based on "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," the David Mamet play following two couples (Kevin Hart and Regina Hall, and Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant) whose relationships are put to the test as they venture from the bar to the bedroom. With Paula Patton, Christopher McDonald and Terrell Owens.

"Endless Love" (PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, partying and partial nudity) Remake of the romance drama about the star-crossed love affair between teens (Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer) from opposite sides of the tracks. With Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick, Emma Rigby and Dayo Okeniyi.

"RoboCop" (PG-13 for sensuality, drug use, brief profanity and pervasive intense violence) Sci-fi remake, set in Detroit in 2028, about a police officer (Joel Kinnaman) who is turned into a bionic crime-fighting killing machine equipped with state-of-the-art gadgetry after being critically-injured by a car bomb. Talented cast includes Oscar-nominees Samuel L. Jackson (for "Pulp Fiction"), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (for "Secrets & Lies"), Gary Oldman (for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"), Jackie Earle Haley (for "Little Children"), along with Michael Keaton and Jay Baruchel.