R&B star Usher raised $98,000 (£57,647) for his New Look Foundation on Thursday (31Jul14) as he joined pals Jermaine Dupri, boxing icon Sugar Ray Leonard and director Kenny Leon at the youth development organisation's 15th anniversary luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia. Rapper Ludacris hosted the bash for the group, which also celebrated surpassing the $1 million (£588,235) mark in funds raised since the charity's inception.
A new Broadway musical based on the songs of late rap icon Tupac Shakur has drawn mixed reviews following its official opening on Thursday (19Jun14). Acclaimed director Kenny Leon, who won a Tony Award earlier this month (Jun14) for his revival of A Raisin In the Sun, put together Holler If Ya Hear Me, a non-biographical show featuring a love story set to the hip-hop star's tracks.
The production, which was staged with the blessing of the California Love hitmaker's mother and estate executor Afeni Shakur, launched at New York's Palace Theatre on Thursday, but the musical has split critics.
The New York Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz praises lead actor Saul Williams' portrayal of John, a self-taught artist who attempts to stay out of trouble after being released from prison, branding his performance "magnetic".
However, Dziemianowicz laments the "predictability" of the show's storyline, despite a "vibrant, raw and rousing" production - sentiments echoed by critics for both Variety and The New York Times.
The Times' Charles Isherwood insists the "beats are sweet, and the words often have an electric charge", but claims the "ambitious" show feels "heavy-handed", while The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney was less than impressed, dismissing the show as "misconceived" and "destined to fall on deaf ears".
Late thespian Ruby Dee will be honoured by the Broadway community on Friday night (13Jun14) when the lights outside the Great White Way's theatres are dimmed in her memory. The actress, who starred in several Broadway hits, died on Wednesday night (11Jun14).
Broadway's lights will be dimmed for one minute.
Charlotte St. Martin, the executive director of the Broadway League, says, "Ruby Dee inspired so many people both on stage and off. At the Tony Awards last Sunday, both Audra McDonald and Kenny Leon paid tribute to Ruby Dee during their acceptance speeches.
"I've long admired Ruby Dee's talent as a performer and her tireless activism for civil rights. Our thoughts are with her family and she will be deeply missed."
Broadway star Audra Mcdonald made history at the Tony Awards on Sunday night (08Jun14) when she became the most decorated actress on the New York stage. McDonald picked up her sixth Tony for portraying jazz and blues legend Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill, putting her ahead of five-time winners Angela Lansbury and the late Julie Harris for the most competitive wins by a Broadway star.
The Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play win also gave McDonald the first Tony Awards grand slam - she has previously won gold as a best featured actress in a play (A Raisin in the Sun and Master Class), a best lead actress in a musical (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess) and a best featured actress in a musical (Ragtime and Carousel).
Meanwhile, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston was at the beginning of his Tonys journey - he scored Sunday night's Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for his New York stage debut as President Lyndon B. Johnson in All The Way, which also picked up the Best Play Tony.
Former Tonys host Neil Patrick Harris was also a first-time winner - he walked away with the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his role as a gender-bending rocker in Hedwig & the Angry Inch.
Accepting his award, the gay star paid tribute to his partner David Burtka, stating, "I love you so much and I am so happy that we got to do this. Thank you for your sacrifices," and his kids Harper and Gideon, adding, "I'm so sorry that I haven't been able to spend as much time with you as I wish I could... I promise that as soon as this is done I'll be able to read books to you and put you to sleep."
The award marked a very special date in his family's history - Harris' parents were celebrating their wedding anniversary.
The actor's Broadway hit was the night's big winner, picking up a total of four awards. Hedwig also claimed the Best Revival of a Musical, Best Lighting and Lena Hall was honoured with the prize for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical.
A Raisin in the Sun and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder were triple winners.
A Raisin in the Sun claimed Best Revival of a Play, while Brit Sofie Okonedo and Kenny Leon claimed Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play and Best Direction titles, respectively, and Gentleman's Guide landed awards for Best Musical, Best Costume Design and Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak).
The full list of 2014 Tony Awards winners is:
All the Way
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Best Revival of a Play
A Raisin in the Sun
Best Revival of a Musical
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Book of a Musical
A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder - Robert L. Freedman
Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre
The Bridges of Madison County- Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
Bryan Cranston, All The Way
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play
Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Scenic Design of a Play
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Best Scenic Design of a Musical
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Best Costume Design of a Play
Jenny Tiramani, Twelfth Night
Best Costume Design of a Musical
Linda Cho, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Best Lighting Design of a Play
Natasha Katz, The Glass Menagerie
Best Lighting Design of a Musical
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Best Sound Design of a Play
Steve Canyon Kennedy, Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill
Best Sound Design of a Musical
Brian Ronan, Beautiful - The Carole King Musical
Best Direction of a Play
Kenny Leon, A Raisin in the Sun
Best Direction of a Musical
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Jason Robert Brown, The Bridges of Madison County
Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre - Jane Greenwood (casting designer)
Isabelle Stevenson Award for Humanitarian Efforts - Rosie O'Donnell
Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre - Joseph P. Benincasa, Joan Marcus & Charlotte Wilcox
Brad Pitt brought Hollywood to New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday (17May14) for a gala fundraiser in support of his foundation. The Fight Club star hosted the event to raise money for the Make it Right organisation, which aims to build environmentally sound homes in areas of the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Comedian Chris Rock served as the emcee for the evening, while Bruno Mars and Kings of Leon took the stage to perform.
Pitt's fiancee Angelina Jolie was also in attendance, as well as Sandra Bullock, Modern Family star Sofia Vergara and funnyman Jim Gaffigan.
Meanwhile, Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey was across town for a benefit concert at the House of Blues to support his charity, the Just Keep Livin' Foundation. The event was a joint fundraiser with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his organisation, The Brees Dream Foundation.
Country singer Kenny Chesney served as headliner for the show, while Reese Witherspoon surprised concertgoers when she took the stage to sing a duet of Johnny Cash's song Jackson, which the Oscar winner performed in her hit film Walk the Line.
Earlier in the day, Pitt was spotted chatting with McConaughey from opposite hotel balconies in New Orleans and even tossed the Dallas Buyers Club star a cold beer.
Singer/actor Saul Williams has been tapped to lead the cast of a long awaited stageshow inspired by the music of late rapper Tupac Shakur. Williams will star alongside Tony Award-winner Tonya Pinkins, Christopher Jackson and Ben Thompson in Holler If Ya Hear Me, which will chronicle the struggles of two friends surviving inner-city life in the American Midwest.
The musical will be directed by Kenny Leon, who is currently winning acclaim for the Broadway revival of A Raisin in the Sun, starring Denzel Washington.
Holler If Ya Hear Me will begin previews on 29 May (14) at Broadway's Palace Theatre.
Denzel Washington was given tips on how to act drunk by veteran thespian Sir Ian Mckellen. The Oscar winner is required to act inebriated in Broadway play A Raisin In The Sun, but he reveals director Kenny Leon gave him sparse instructions when it came making his intoxication seem genuine.
However, the actor was able to turn to McKellen for advice and gratefully took the Brit's words of wisdom on board.
He tells Vulture, "There wasn't a whole lot of direction for that scene... I was asking him (McKellen) about it, and he said, 'Well, I just curl up my feet, and I kind of roll back on my heels a little bit, and then you're always trying to get back on your toes.' You know?... Now, I don't do that the whole time I'm out there, but it's a starting place... Now people will be looking at my toes!"
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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Samuel L. Jackson's actress wife Latanya Richardson has been given a second chance to strike Broadway gold after she was picked to replace Diahann Carroll in A Raisin In The Sun a decade after she passed on the same role. Carroll was cast as the mother of Denzel Washington's character in the latest version of Lorraine Hansberry's play, but the physical demands of the role forced her to bow out earlier this month (Feb14), leaving director Kenny Leon with a big problem.
He turned to Richardson, who reminded him that he had originally offered her the role when he staged the play with Sean 'Diddy' Combs and Phylicia Rashad.
Washington explains, "Kenny called LaTanya and said, 'Would you do the play...?' She said that he had actually offered the role to her 10 years ago and she couldn't do it, so Phylicia Rashad took over... and Phylicia won the Tony Award, and so now, 10 years later, LaTanya's coming to do it with us.
"She's a brilliant actress. She and I have worked together many times... She's already tearing it up."
The show marks Richardson's first Broadway play since she starred in a 2009 revival of August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone.
Previews for A Raisin in the Sun begin on 8 March (14).
A long awaited stage show featuring the music of late rapper Tupac Shakur is set to hit the Broadway stage in June (14). The musical, titled Holler If Ya Hear Me, has been in the works since 2012, and in 2013, the production's premiere was put on hold due to a lack of available theatres.
The show, which opens on 19 June (14) at the Palace Theater in New York, will tell the story of two friends surviving inner-city life in the American Midwest.
Holler If Ya Hear Me will be directed by Kenny Leon, who is also heading the upcoming A Raisin in the Sun revival, starring Denzel Washington.
Shakur was killed in a shooting incident in 1996.