Singer Jennifer Hudson is unable to watch footage of her poignant performance at the U.S. Super Bowl last year (13) as it revives too many raw emotions.
The Dreamgirls star took to the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana to perform America the Beautiful with a choir of pupils from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, who had been at the centre of a massacre just months earlier.
Hudson was still grieving for her mother Darnell Donnerson and brother Jason, who were shot dead at their home in Chicago, Illinois in 2008, and lining up with the Sandy Hook children to sing at the sporting spectacular was almost too much to bear.
She tells The Observer Magazine, "I was not very present at all any of that time. It felt like a dream. I haven't watched it back, because those moments send you back to a certain place and that's a place I don't want to go back to."
Gunman Adam Lanza killed 20 pupils and six adult members of staff in a rampage at Sandy Hook in December, 2012.
Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson had to be asked to move along by police last week (13Nov13) after staging an hours-long gospel celebration on her Hollywood Walk of Fame star shortly after the unveiling ceremony. The Dreamgirls star was presented with the pavement plaque on 13 November (13) and she reveals she took her family back to the sidewalk spot that evening to gaze at the honour.
The get together quickly became a church-style event as family and friends joined the Oscar winner for a few hymns and spirituals.
The impromptu gathering, which lasted into the early hours, attracted strange stares from cops patrolling the area - and they eventually managed to convince the group to head home.
She says, "It was so fun. I tried to fly my whole, entire family to the ceremony so I had everybody with me, and it's just such an amazing honour...
"I ended up back at the star (afterwards)... I had to go make sure it was still there...! Like, this is really real. I took my whole family and we ended up having church (sic) on the star, singing. We stayed out there until like, two in the morning until the police removed us! We prayed and we sang... Well they (police) didn't kick us out, but they was (sic) about to by the third time they came around!"
Hudson was joined by her fiance, David Otunga, their four-year-old son David Daniel Otunga, Jr., music mentor Clive Davis, R&B star Raphael Saadiq and songwriter Diane Warren at the ceremony, where she paid an emotional tribute to her late mother, Darnell Donnerson, who was murdered in 2008 by the singer's estranged brother-in-law.
Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson fought back tears while speaking about her late mother as she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Wednesday (13Nov13). The Oscar winner was surrounded by family and friends when she unveiled the 2,512th star on the iconic Los Angeles sidewalk, but Hudson pointed out that there was one person she wanted by her side for the special moment - her late mum Darnell Donnerson.
Welling up during her acceptance speech, Hudson said, "I knew I would get emotional and I'm sure my mom is in heaven like 'Jenny stop crying' but now's the time to cry mama, it is. This is an amazing honour as we all know and I did not see this coming. I'm so honoured to be here with so many that I love and I feel as though we're all a family."
Donnerson, along with Hudson's nephew and brother, was shot dead by her sister's estranged husband William Balfour in 2008.
During the ceremony, music executive Clive Davis, was also on hand to praise the former American Idol contestant.
He recalled, "I didn't sign her to a recording contract at the very beginning, but when I saw her, I saw her screen test for Dreamgirls, I knew that she was truly a unique original artist whose career would be nothing short of spectacular so I did sign her, then I was stunned by her acting range, she was the real deal... and that voice.
"I had been privileged over the years to work with two of the greatest voices of all time: Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. I never thought I'd hear another voice to compare and yet staring me in the face was a new voice that did compare. It literally sent shivers up my spine."
Hudson was also joined by her fiance, David Otunga, their four-year-old son David Daniel Otunga, Jr., R&B star Raphael Saadiq and songwriter Diane Warren at the ceremony.
And now we have even more shake-ups for American Idol fans. Shortly after announcing that the Idol Summer tour has been cut short, it looks like longtime executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick will not be returning for American Idol’s 13th season.
According to The Wrap, the producers have been fired in an effort to shake up the show and win back their consistently dwindling viewers. Lythgoe and Warwick launched American Idol together back in 2002 following the success of their first reality singing completion Britain’s Pop Idol. Their rumored departure follows on the heels of news that FOX’s alternative programming president, Mike Darnell, was leaving his post at the network after 18 years.
FOX is clearly trying to shake things up at Idol now that it’s been announced that Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey, and Nicki Minaj are not returning as judges for Season 13. It's rumored that Jennifer Hudson is thisclose to signing the deal to lead a panel former Idol contestants-turned-judges.
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More: Mariah Carey And Nicki Minaj Are Leaving 'American Idol' Is Jennifer Hudson The Newest 'American Idol' Judge? Yo, Yo, Yo: Randy Jackson Leaving 'American Idol' Is Not Dope, Y'all
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Two months after the initial verdict, an Illinois judge ruled Tuesday against a retrial for Jennifer Hudson’s ex-brother-in-law, William Balfour. And, because there will be no retrial, Balfour is still sentenced to life in prison.
Balfour was found guilty on three counts of first-degree murder after shooting Hudson’s mother, Darnell Donerson; brother, Jason Hudson; and 7-year-old nephew, Julian King, in 2008. He is also charged for the kidnapping of Julian King, who was found dead in Jason Hudson’s SUV three days after he was abducted.
Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns has given Balfour three life sentences as well as 120 years for other miscellaneous charges, including home invasion and kidnapping (Illinois does not have the death penalty).
After the verdict was initially revealed, Hudson and her sister Julia put out a statement to the Balfour family saying, “We have all suffered terrible loss in this tragedy… it is our prayer that the Lord will forgive Mr. Balfour of these heinous acts and bring his heart into repentance someday.”
[Photo Credit: Wenn.com, Cook County Sheriff's Department]
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Jennifer Hudson's estranged brother-in-law William Balfour has been denied an appeal following his conviction for murdering the singer/actress' mother, brother and nephew.
Lawyers working for Balfour, who was found guilty of the 2008 killings in May (12), filed a request for a new trial last month (Jun12), but the motion was rejected by Cook County Circuit Judge Charles Burns when the case returned to court for sentencing on Tuesday (24Jul12).
He is expected to be handed down a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole later on Tuesday.
The Dreamgirls star, who attended every day of the trial, was also in court for the latest hearing in Illinois with her sister Julia, who split from Balfour in early 2008.
Julia Hudson discovered the bodies of her mum Darnell Donerson and brother Jason Hudson in the family home in October, 2008, while her seven-year-old son Julian King, was found shot dead in the back of an abandoned SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) three days later.
Balfour, 31, was also convicted of charges of home invasion, residential burglary, possession of a stolen vehicle and aggravated kidnapping.
A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
William Balfour, 31, was convicted of fatally shooting Hudson's mother Darnell Donerson, 57, her brother Jason Hudson, 29, and her seven-year-old nephew Julian King in 2008 by an Illinois jury on Friday (11May12) after two days of deliberation.
As the verdict was read out in court, Oscar winner Hudson broke down in tears and had to be comforted by her fiance, David Otunga. Her sister Julia was also present for the verdict.
Now the pair has released a statement through attorney Anita Alvarez, who reveals the devastated sisters are glad Balfour has been brought to justice.
Alvarez told reporters after the verdict, "I spoke with Jennifer and Julia Hudson after the verdict... they are both very pleased and very appreciative of the co-operation that we have provided for them. They are relieved and we hope that this verdict gives them some sense of justice."
A verdict has been reached in the trial surrounding the murder of American Idol star Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother: the defendant, William Balfour, has been found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder.
The tragic events took place on Oct. 24, 2008. Hudson's mother Darnell Donnerson, then 57, and brother Jason Hudson, then 29, were both shot and killed in Donnerson's Chicago, Ill. home. On that same day, Hudson's sister, Julia, who lived with their mother, reported that her 7-year-old son Julian King had gone missing. On Oct. 27, Julian's body was discovered and identified after having been killed from multiple gunshot wounds.
On Oct. 24, Julia's ex-husband William Balfour, was arrested as a suspect of the murders, but not charged. On Dec. 1, Balfour was advanced to prime suspect and taken into police custody. Balfour was charged with three counts of first degree murder, and one count of home invasion. On Jan. 27, 2009, Balfour pleaded "not guilty." The trial began on Apr. 23, 2012.
Balfour was also found guilty of aggravated kidnapping, home invasion, residential burglary, and possession of a stolen vehicle. He could face life in prison if convicted on all counts.
[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]
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