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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Marla Gibbs branches out into more serious roles

Marla Gibbs is best known for her iconic sitcom roles of the sassy maid Florence Johnston on the 1970s hit “The Jeffersons” and the neighborhood mainstay Mary Jenkins on “227” a decade later. So it was a quite a surprise when the show business veteran talked about how those roles changed the path of her career.

“I said ‘well I guess this is what I’m supposed to be doing,’” Gibbs explained to Tasty Clips. “You do what’s in front of you, but I always saw myself as a serious actress.”

And so she gets to flex those chops delivering two monologues Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. as part of the free (with RSVP) Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills’ presentation of WordTheatre’s production “Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience,” a one-night-only music and hip-hop-infused performance of stories by one of the America’s premier writers of fiction.

Gary Dourdan (“Being Mary Jane”), Glynn Turman (“Queen Sugar”), Gina Torres (“Suits”), James Pickens Jr. (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Tracie Thoms (“Cold Case”) and Robert Wisdom (“Ballers”) are among the all-star collective participating in the program hosted by KCRW’s Garth Trinidad, as conceived by the show’s producer/director Cedering Fox.

“These actors love Wideman so much,” said Fox of the 76-year-old, multiple award-winning author who will be in attendance and available to sign bought copies of his books. “We’re on a mission. He’s been writing for 50 years and considered by critics one of the seminal writers of all time and for some reason he’s not a household name like August Wilson. We’re all trying very hard to change that.”

Gibbs is next slated to walk the red carpet Feb. 8 for opening night of the Pan African Film Festival as part of the cast of “Love Jacked,” a romantic comedy starring Amber Stevens-West, Shamier Anderson, Keith David, Mike Epps, Lyriq Bent, and her daughter, Angela Gibbs.

“It was wonderful,” she said of the experience. “I’d never been to Canada before. So going there and seeing Niagara Falls from the Canadian side was just outstanding.”

On the horizon is the long-delayed release of a CD called “It’s Never Too Late” being remastered by her grandson.

“What I’m learning in the business is you can do things yourself but nobody’s going to support you,” Gibbs said. “You have to go through the system. I paid for my own CD and had wonderful musicians. It was recorded in 2006 around May or June. Then in October, I had a brain aneurysm so we never could do anything [then].”

She continues to stay busy and has landed a recurring role on Shonda Rhimes’ upcoming “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off “Station 19.”

“I have to tell you because I know you don’t know,” Gibbs said of her vitality. “I’m 30 born in 31. Actually, we’re spiritual beings as well as physical beings. So as such, we’re ageless and timeless. I choose to vibrate on 30.”

CLIPPETTES: Clive Davis used the platform of his annual pre-Grammy party to announce that Jennifer Hudson has been selected by Aretha Franklin to play her in an upcoming biopic. The Queen of Soul previously championed Halle Berry for the part

Platinum selling rapper Lil Uzi Vert is live at the Shrine Music Hall on Feb. 2; while the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center hosts Stokely (of Mint Condition) & Friends featuring Kenny Lattimore, Troop, AY 2.0 and Annale’ …

Ernie Hudson has been cast as Gabrielle Union’s father in the “Bad Boys” TV spin-off from the producers of “The Blacklist”

Garcelle Beauvais is reading and signing copies of her children’s book, “I Am Awesome” at WeVillage Flexible Childcare on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.

Later that evening, Sinbad brings his stand-up comedy to The Saban; and Louie Vega celebrates Remember’s three-year anniversary with an all vinyl/all night set at Union

The “Superfly” remake is nearing shooting with a cast comprised of Trevor Jackson, Michael K. Williams, Esai Morales and rising star Jason Mitchell …

Roger Guenveur Smith revives his acclaimed one-man show, “Frederick Douglass Now,” on Feb. 8 at the California African-American Museum

Also that night, writer/executive producer/actress Anna Deavere Smith is presenting a screening of her new filmed performance, “Notes from the Field,” to be followed by a conversation at LACMA’s Bing Theater. In the piece, she essays roles from the mayor of Stockton, to a Yurok fisherman, and later a Yurok judge, to civil rights stalwart John Lewis.

TC ON TV: Feb. 2 – “Coach Snoop” (Netflix): This eight-episode series follows the rapper outside the studio and on the field as the leader of a team of teens in the Snoop Youth Football League. “Her Stolen Past” (Lifetime): Lynette Eason’s Harlequin Love inspired suspense novel is adapted for the screen with Shanice Banton (“Book of Negroes”). “Great Performances” (PBS): “Nas Live From The Kennedy Center: Classical Hip-Hop” “Real Time with Bill Maher” (HBO): Donna Brazille “2 Dope Queens” (HBO): The hit comedy podcast featuring Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson comes to HBO as a series of four themed hour-long specials directed by Tig Notaro. Up first is “New York,” with Jon Stewart.

Feb. 3 – “The Simone Biles Story” (Lifetime): This original movie stars Jeanté Godlock as the Olympic champion gymnast with Julius Tennon (“How To Get Away With Murder”) and Tisha Campbell-Martin (“Martin”) as her parents.

Feb. 4 – “Super Bowl LII” (NBC): Justin Timberlake is the halftime performer with Pink and Leslie Odom Jr. handling the patriotic songs.

Feb. 5 – “Independent Lens” (PBS): “Winnie” explores the life of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. “I made three films in South Africa and interviewed Nelson Mandela for two of them, but I was always intrigued by Winnie, and felt a little unsettled by the adulation that was poured on her husband, while she was cast as the fallen woman,” says filmmaker Pascale Lamche. “Her reputation among people I encountered in Europe and the states was unshakably negative and yet in South Africa, Winnie was loved and respected. I became more and more fascinated by the wide chasm between the two images. Something was amiss. A story needed telling.”

Feb. 6 – “Black Lightning” (CW): This episode, “Black Jesus,” is directed by the renowned Michael Schultz (“Cooley High” “Car Wash”).

Feb. 7 – “Big Brother” (CBS): The infamous Omarosa, Keisha Knight Pulliam, Metta World Peace are some of the stars entering the house for the first U.S. celebrity edition spanning 13 days.

TASTY QUIP: “The only place you find success before work is the dictionary, and that’s alphabetical.” – QUINCY JONES to GQ

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.

 

 

CAPTION

 

Actress Marla Gibbs will deliver two monologues Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. as part of the free (with RSVP) Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills’ presentation of WordTheatre’s production “Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience,” a one-night-only music and hip-hop-infused performance of stories by one of the America’s premier writers of fiction.

 

Courtesy photo

 

 

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