Actress Viola Davis has turned on a New York Times writer for taking aim at her looks in a new article. Journalist Alessandra Stanley compared The Help star to Kerry Washington and Halle Berry in an article about Davis' new U.S. TV series How to Get Away with Murder last week (ends21Sep14), suggesting Davis "doesn't look at all like the typical star of a network drama".
The writer added, "Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, (show creator Shonda) Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than (Kerry) Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series Extant."
Taking to Twitter.com in response to the article, Davis has quoted late poet Maya Angelou, writing, "You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise!!!"
In the article, Stanley also criticises Rhimes, writing, "When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.
"(She) has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn't break. (Her) work is mercifully free of uplifting role models, parables and moral teachings."
Rhimes responded, "Confused why @nytimes critic doesn't know identity of CREATOR of show she's reviewing. @petenowa did u know u were "an angry black woman"?"
She continued, "Apparently we can be "angry black women" together, because I didn't know I was one either!"
Following a barrage of feedback from readers, Stanley has insisted her intentions were misunderstood. The Times' culture editor, Danielle Mattoon, has released a statement offering her regret.
It reads: "There was never any intent to offend anyone and I deeply regret that it did. Alessandra used a rhetorical device to begin her essay, and because the piece was so largely positive, we as editors weren’t sensitive enough to the language being used.
"I do think there were interesting and important ideas raised that are being swamped... This is a signal to me that we have to constantly remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don’t know, and of how readers may react."
Stanley adds, "In the review, I referenced a painful and insidious stereotype solely in order to praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows for traveling so far from it. If making that connection between the two offended people, I feel bad about that. But I think that a full reading allows for a different takeaway than the loudest critics took.... (and) I commended Ms. Rhimes for casting an actress who doesn’t conform to television’s narrow standards of beauty."
Oprah Winfrey and U.S. President Barack Obama have joined stars including Bette Midler, Tony Bennett, Rihanna and Pharrell Williams to pay tribute to celebrated writer/poet Maya Angelou following her death on Wednesday (28May14). The influential author passed away at her home in North Carolina, just days after ill health prompted her to cancel an appearance at a prizegiving this Friday (30May14), and celebrities took to their Twitter.com blogs to celebrate her life within minutes of the tragic announcement.
Veteran entertainer Midler became one of the first stars to comment on the 86 year old's passing, writing, "The beautiful Maya Angelou died this morning. A big and radiant soul, at rest at last", while crooner Bennett posted, "Maya Angelou was an exceptional writer and human being and her inspiration will continue to enrich us all."
Rihanna praised Angelou as an "angel" and revealed, "The first book I read as a teenager, 'I know why the caged bird sings'. Felt like we knew her", and singer and superproducer Williams mused, "Her light will be sorely missed".
TV titan Winfrey paid a touching tribute to her longtime "mentor, mother/sister, and friend", adding, "She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet but at the heart of her, she was a teacher. 'When you learn, teach. When you get, give,' is one of my best lessons from her... "She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace. I loved her and I know she loved me. I will profoundly miss her. She will always be the rainbow in my clouds."
President Obama, who awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, also issued a statement about Angelou's passing, writing in part, "(Wife) Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time: a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman."
A slew of other tributes have also been posted online from the likes of Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington, Beyonce, William Shatner, Kelly Rowland, Lena Dunham, Olivia Munn, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, rapper Nas, and revered U.S. broadcaster Larry King.
Rap mogul Sean 'Diddy' Combs won over the graduating class at America's Howard University by delivering a fun-packed commencement speech on Saturday (10May14). Officials at the Washington, D.C. institution came under fire earlier this year (14) when it was announced that the hip-hop superstar was set to return to his alma mater to pick up an honorary degree and deliver the 2014 commencement speech, because he had actually dropped out of the school.
However, Combs managed to overcome the controversy by delivering an impassioned speech to the 2014 graduating class, who gave the star a standing ovation and continually chanted 'Diddy'.
He told the students, "Ain't no homecoming like a Howard homecoming. And it feels so good to be home."
Combs took to Instagram.com after the ceremony to share a series of snaps of him in his cap and gown and posing with his honorary doctorate.
Combs attended the university in the late 1980s but left to pursue a career in the music industry. He followed previous speakers U.S. President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and poet Maya Angelou.
ABC Television Network
Lindsay Lohan has had multiple run-ins with the law but has served significant time only in rehab. Like Lohan, Paris Hilton walked in and out of prison. Directors Roman Polanski and Woody Allen have had questionable sex scandals and faced no jail time. Even O.J. Simpson was tried for murder and acquitted but then declared guilty in a civil trial. It’s unclear whether the court of justice gets interrupted by the court of public opinion, the legal system is not prepared to handle high profile inmates, or if justice can be effectively carried out with such high profile figures. So does the burden fall on Hollywood to police its own?
Shh! It’s a Secret
One challenge to Hollywood policing its celebrities is that they have high powered lawyers and are very litigious. How can journalists report on crimes if they are subject to high profile lawsuits? Also, if you’re rich enough you may have a built in network of alibis and accomplices. It’s easy to have "friends" (or paid-off bouncers) take the rap, or to have people in your employ sign non-disclosure agreements. But having inequitable legal protection does not allow celebrities to be above the law. Stars like Lindsay Lohan may not serve jail time, but judging from her reality show, the time incarcerated may have served her well. With so many celebrities dying of drug related deaths does this behavior not warrant some sort of action?
The NBA has banned Donald Sterling for life for inflammatory statements he made about minorities. Paula Deen was let go from The Food Network and lost many endorsements because of things she said. But what about the things actors and performers say that get out. During stand-up performances, Tracy Morgan said if his son was gay he would kill him, and Michael Richards used the N-word. Lest we forget the many inflammatory comments by Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin. And yet, no one is around to fine, ban, or police them.
Shonda Rhimes: Avenger
One of the few showbiz figures policing her stars seems to be Shonda Rhimes. Columbus Short, star of Scandal, has been let go by ABC amid allegations of spousal abuse. It’s sad to lose such a vital character on the show but there are some things you just can’t abide. He may be able to get away without having to do prison time but he shouldn’t appear on a national television show, with major notoriety, about a Washington power player that is a woman. It’s unclear whether it is Rhimes or ABC that removed Short, but Rhimes does have a long history of keeping her actors in line. When Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington engaged in a major physical altercation, used a gay slur, and outed an actor derisively, he was let go from the show. Now this may also be a case of responding to a public outcry but it was a decision based on outrage by the cast, crew, and creators. Regardless of whether it is ABC or Rhimes making the order, letting these actors go sends a clear message: this behavior is not permissible. Look at a show like Two and a Half Men, which kept Charlie Sheen on until his public face became too much to handle. The show was a cash cow but could have afforded to let Sheen go earlier. Clearly, he has issues with drugs and his own hubris. He didn’t start out at rock bottom and had the show intervened earlier his career might have been saved.
No one is above the law but it seems like actors and Hollywood types will not realize until they lose everything. The one lesson from Lohan’s OWN show Lindsay is that you can get yourself ejected from Hollywood for bad behavior. The trip back is an uphill climb. There’s tons of talented actors and directors, beautiful models, and enjoyable comedians… but you only get a few chances.
University officials in Washington, D.C. are standing by their decision to invite hip-hop mogul Sean 'Diddy' Combs to address this year's (14) class of graduates following a backlash from students. Howard University President Wayne Frederick announced on Tuesday (15Apr14) that the rapper and entrepreneur will return to his alma mater in May (14) to pick up an honorary degree and deliver the 2014 commencement speech, but the news irked members of the student body who took issue with the fact that Combs had been a college drop out.
However, chiefs at the school are refusing to bow to pressure to replace the star.
A representative tells TMZ.com, "Howard University continues the tradition of identifying leaders whose work has clearly contributed to the advancement of their fields and the world... We are honoured to have Mr. Combs serve as our speaker."
Combs attended the university in the late 1980s but left to pursue a career in the music industry.
He follows in the footsteps of previous Howard University commencement speakers, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and poet Maya Angelou.
We know what you're thinking. Mama Pope is horrible! She's a terrorist! She's insane! She tried to kill the President of the United States/her own daughter's boyfriend! Okay, sure. But on Scandal, no bad guy is just a bad guy and even the good guys can't always be trusted. Mama Pope A.K.A. Maya Lewis A.K.A. Marie Wallace (played by the supremely talented Khandi Alexander) is a strange, scary figure, but there are a few things we can all learn from her. As Olivia Pope once said about the baddest of bad guys Hollis Doyle, "even the devil loves his kids."
1. Have a Special, Exclusive Nickname for Your Little One
Every time Olivia picks up the phone and hears the name "Livvy" her heart stops a little. Sure, she's partly terrified because her Mom keeps coming back from the dead, and popping up in the States when she was just on a plane to Europe. But there's also something endearing about the whole thing. She may be the Olvia Pope, D.C. Fixer extraordinaire, but it's nice to know that to one person she's just plain "Livvy." Even if Olivia is freaked out every time she gets on the phone with her mom, we know she's also, always secretly happy to be Livvy again, if only for a moment.
2. Don't Be Afraid to Tread on the Dark Side of Motherhood
We can't talk about Mama Pope without discussing the one scene that kind of told us everything we needed to know about her. In one of her first appearances, when she was still being imprisoned by her husband Eli Pope (because of that one time she killed all of those people on a plane), Mama Pope kinda, sorta, literally ate through her own wrists so as to break free and make her way to Olivia. Sure, it was dark and gruesome. But motherhood is a dark place sometimes. And every once in a while you have to get a little animalistic if you're going to make it through.
3. Be the One Person Who Keeps It Unbelievably Real with Your Child
Some people forget that Mama Pope was the first character on the show to make one brilliantly astute observation about Olivia: Kerry Washington's character is not a very happy person. She's got great coats, she's got great men (sort of), her job is pretty cool, and she's the best fixer around. Her hair is perfect, and her friends and coworkers are loyal. But she doesn't laugh that much and it's kind of a bummer. In a recent episode, Mama Pope even went so far as to call her The Help, and pointed out (rather harshly) that Livvy's world revolves around the people she serves. Mothers are not just meant to cuddle and coddle; they need to keep it all the way real sometimes. And keeping it real is one thing (of many) that Mama Pope is not afraid to do.
Follow @Hollywood_com Follow @shannonmhouston
Officials at a university in America are facing a backlash from students after they announced Sean 'Diddy' Combs would deliver the commencement speech for this year's (14) graduating class. Howard University President Wayne Frederick confirmed on Tuesday (15Apr14) that the hip-hop mogul is due to return to the Washington, D.C. college where he studied in the late 1980s to pick up an honorary degree.
He will also give a rousing speech to students heading into the world of work, but the news has irked some members of the university community who are upset about the choice of speaker because Combs failed to graduate.
Many students have taken to Twitter.com to voice their opposition to the decision to allow a college dropout to give the prestigious address.
Combs follows in the footsteps of previous commencement speakers including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and poet Maya Angelou.
The ceremony will take place next month (May14).
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.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
NBC Universal Media
Kerry Washington is going to be hosting Saturday Night Live on Nov. 2 and cast member Kenan Thompson thought it was the perfect time to lament the lack of black women playing regular roles on the show. The thing was, he didn't cast the blame on the people bringing in the talent, people like executive producer Lorne Michaels. During an interview, he said that it was the fact that weren't any good black female comedians.
The reaction was swift amid the Internet and Twitterverse. Aisha Tyler immediately branded him 'dumb' and even a fellow male cast member, Jay Pharoah was like, "Uh, dude, here's one. Her name's Damirra Brunson. Check it out."
It's true, there has been quite a dearth of black women on the show over the decades: the only ones I can think of are Ellen Cleghorne and Maya Rudolph. For all we know, Washington may have been brought in as a host to try to quiet the impending firestorm. Us, cynical? Never.
Another reason Thompson brought it up is because he wants to stop having to dress up for ladies' roles in skits as well. He's lucky that he didn't grow up in Ancient Greece...ALL female parts were played by men. Looks like Pharoah is going to be donning those outfits for the most part, from now on.
The thing is, there's a lot of competition for the parts on the show, but there's only so much of an ensemble that can be gathered. It would be great if there could be another black woman on the show, but I don't think Thompson is right for blaming the talent. It's a big world and there's only so many parts.
But I will be glad to see him out of drag. Maybe Washington might also want a side gig during Scandal hiatuses?
Tina Fey, Julie Andrews and Tony Bennett will salute actress Carol Burnett when she is honoured with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor next month (Oct13). The Carol Burnett Show star will be feted at the Kennedy Center's 16th annual ceremony.
A statement from the actress reads, "I can't believe I'm getting a humor prize from the Kennedy Center. It's almost impossible to be funnier than the people in Washington."
Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph and Lucille Ball's daughter Lucie Arnaz, and Burnett's former castmates Tim Conway and Vicki Lawrence will also be on hand to celebrate the comedienne.
Previous honourees include Richard Pryor, Ellen DeGeneres, Will Ferrell, Fey, Bill Cosby and George Carlin.