This year’s LA Film Festival — running through June 9 at Arclight Cinemas — has opened with two sold-out world premieres of works from buzz-worthy black directors.
The Blair Underwood-narrated “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice,” comes from one of Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch” — Deborah Riley Draper. The feature looks at the trials of 18 African-American athletes who represented this country in Nazi Germany’s 1936 Olympic Games.
“I was drawn to the unheard and dismissed voice of the other 17 African Americans [outside of Jesse Owens] who won hearts and medals,” the helmer of 2012’s acclaimed “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution,” told Tasty Clips. “Especially the two black women [Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes]. They opened the doors for all of the stars we now know and love — Wilma Rudolph, Flo Jo, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Allyson Felix and the list goes on.”
“Mooz-Lum” writer/director Qasim Basir’s “Destined” was the film actor Cory Hardrict effused about upon our meeting last month in Atlanta. No wonder. He is said to have given a breakout performance as two dissimilar characters in the drama he executive produced along with cast mate Hill Harper. Margot Bingham, Jesse Metcalfe, La La Anthony and Mo McRae round out the players.
Tickets for additional screenings of the two films respectively on June 6 and 7; a June 4 Diversity Speaks talk with Issa Rae (“Awkward Black Girl”) and Curator Elvis Mitchell; and more are still available at: www.lafilmfest.com.
RESPECT: Headliner Stevie Wonder opened day one of BottleRock Napa Valley but his closing numbers still have those who attended the festival talking. To close his show, Wonder ripped into spectacular covers of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss,” The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” David Bowie’s “Fame,” and the Eagles’ “Hotel California.” Throughout the performance, the legendary performer would stop to ask the crowd, “What’s my name?” – to which they chanted “DJ Chick Chick Boom.” The evening concluded with “Superstition.”
GRINDING: Author/entrepreneur Zane always has multiple irons in the fire. Tasty Clips caught up with the prolific writer of adult fiction in Columbia, South Carolina, as part of a book tour promoting the latest in her popular “Addicted” series titled, “Vengeance;” and the instructive manual “Infinite Words.”
The Maryland native, who like Shonda Rhimes and Mara Brock Akil, is one of the few black female showrunners in television, dropped exclusively that she was just commissioned to write the biopic of the late Blues guitarist B.B. King by his daughter. This will take up the time freed up from the previously reported Aaliyah project she now pronounces as “dead in the water.”
CLIPPETTES: Chuck D of Public Enemy got Shaquille O’Neal to return to his rap roots for a new song to be released on the soundtrack of a documentary on the first NBA free agent Spencer Haywood …
William Shatner, Danny Trejo, Keith David and Sean Astin lend their talents to “Range 15,” called “The SuperTroopers of Military Movies,” premiering June 3 at the Vista Theatre prior to its nationwide release on June 15 …
“The Crown Prince of Reggae” gets saluted in a new double-disc album out called “We Remember Dennis Brown.” The compilation features covers from Marsha Ambrosius, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Jah Cure and more.
The Newport Beach Jazz Festival (June 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency) returns with Stephanie Mills, Michael McDonald, Jonathan Butler, AWB, Karen Briggs, Paul Taylor, and Euge Groove for starters …
A captivating real-life Cinderella story is at the heart of “Presenting Princess Shaw,” opening in theaters nationwide June 3. This tale of despairing New Orleans-based singer Samantha Montgomery, catapulted by the discovery of her talents on YouTube by Israeli composer Kutiman, affirms that dreams can come true …
Nathan Leftenant took to Facebook to announce that he and his 10 former members of Cameo have lawyered up to get their royalties. He says group founder/front-man Larry Blackmon “tried to put a hold on funds claiming 100 percent of royalty was his!” Stay tuned …
TC ON TV: June 3 – “All In with Cam Newton” (Nick): The Carolina Panthers QB hosts this series pairing aspiring kids with mentors like three-time Olympian gymnast Dominque Dawes and Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”). “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” (Food): Guy Fieri goes “Cruisin’ in Cuba” in this special episode.
June 5 – “The Governor’s Ball Music Festival” (Viceland): Kanye West “Sports Detectives” (Smithsonian): The first season ends with an investigation on what really happened to Muhammad Ali’s 1960 Olympic gold medal, which he claims was tossed into the Ohio River because of his disgust with racism.
June 6 – “2016 Peabody Awards” (Pivot): Keegan-Michael Key hosts this edited version of the prestigious ceremony honoring “Black-ish,” “Mr. Robot,” “Beasts of No Nation,” “The Leftovers,” and documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, among others.
June 7 – “20/20” (ABC): The Bobby Brown Story – Every Little Step.
June 9 – “Live with Kelly” (ABC): Paula Patton, Michael Franti & Spearhead; “Guy’s Choice 2016” (Spike): Kobe Bryant is its Athlete of the Decade. “Streets of Compton” (A&E): The Game leads this three-part docuseries with an album project to follow. The contributor roll call includes current and former residents Kendrick Lamar, Niecy Nash, Paul Rodriguez, tennis patriarch Richard Williams and Mayor Aja Brown.
OPENING NIGHT: Tony Award-winning “Passing Strange” creators Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s new musical “The Total Bent” totally rocks! The intimacy of NYC’s Public Theater, where “Hamilton” was launched, abets the rush of realizing you’re witnessing a masterpiece. Though familiar with Vondie Curtis-Hall’s accomplished career as an actor and director, his singing voice as preacher Papa Joe Roy is a revelation; as is Ato Blankson-Wood as metamorphosing son Marty. It runs through June 19, while we wonder if Spike Lee will return to film another of this talented duo’s productions.
TASTY QUIP: “Diversity is on everyone’s agenda today, but it’s something I’ve had to think about my entire career, because, in a way, it’s like the tax you pay for being a person of color in this industry.” – AMERICA FERRERA to Deadline
“Tasty Clips” is an entertainment column published in The Wave to update readers on the activities and accomplishments of black celebrities and artists in television, in music and at the movies. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to email@example.com. He can also be reached on Twitter @tastyclips.