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‘Empire’ writers to highlight Leimert Park book festival

LOS ANGELES – An exclusive panel discussion with writers from the hit FOX-TV show “Empire” is among the events being featured this weekend during the Leimert Park Village Book Fair.

The annual event celebrates the literary legacy of African-Americans with panel discussions, book readings and signings, interviews, film screenings, special exhibitions, children’s activities, awards and musical performances, organizers said.

The ninth annual book fair – named “One of LA’s 5 Best Annual Book Festivals” – will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Mall. More than 100 authors are expected to attend the event, which is free and open to the public.

The Empire panel, at 2 p.m., will feature writer and producer Attica Locke (“Black Water Rising,” “Pleasantville”) with several other esteemed writers from the show, including Joshua Allen (“Hostages”), Eric Haywood (“Private Practice,” “Soul Food” and “Hawaii”), JaNeika and JaSheika James (“Desperate Housewives,” “Dexter,” “Seinfeld,” “Scrubs”), and Carlito Rodriguez (“The Leftovers”).

Acclaimed author and filmmaker Tananarive Due (“My Soul to Keep,” “The Living Blood,” “Blood Colony”) will moderate the panel.

The festival also will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riot with a panel discussion on its main stage at 11:30 a.m., organizers said, and feature a classic car display and vintage typewriter collection.

Before the main event this weekend, festival organizers will collaborate with the Writers Guild of America West’s Committee of Black Writers and the Pan African Film Festival to host a special screening celebrating the 30th anniversary of the iconic film adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1983 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning book, “The Color Purple.”

The screening will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 30 at BHC Rave Cinemas.

Several celebrity authors from various genres also are expected to attend the annual book fair, including:

• Actress Garcelle Beauvais and Sebastian A. Jones (“I am mixed, I am Awesome”).

• Former model and author Kathleen Bradley (“Backstage at the Price is Right:  Memoirs of a Barker Beauty”).

• Attorney and  award-winning author Pamela Samuels Young  (“Anybody’s Daughter,” “In Firm Pursuit,” “Murder on the Down Low”).

• Actress Erika Alexander and husband, screenwriter Tony Puryear (“Concrete Park”).

• Celebrity chefs Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams (“Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family”).

“With the support of our festival partner, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw, our sponsors and numerous supporters, we are able to offer a full literary experience for the community,” said festival producer and founder Cynthia E. Exum.

Rachel Freeman, general manager for Baldwin Hills Crenshaw, called the event “part of our ongoing commitment to bring high-quality activities to our neighborhood.”

The theme of this year’s fair is “The 1980s: The Decade That Made Us.” The event will include a display of classic cars from that decade curated by the Petersen Automotive Museum, a vinyl album display curated by Amoeba Music, and a collection of 1980s vintage toys.

The fair also will host “Writers and Their Typewriters,” an exhibition that will showcase Ernest Hemingway’s personal typewriter from Steve Soboroff’s personal collection, among others.

Finally, an exhibit from the Cornell University Hip Hop Collection, entitled “Hip Hop Revolution, Roots Rhythm & Rage,” will display images of early hip-hop artists and musicians.

Returning chairpersons, Dr. Bernard W. and Shirley Kinsey are renowned art collectors, philanthropists, and historians. Their coffee table art book, “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey – Where Art and History Intersect,” will be available at the book fair.

For more information about the Leimert Park Village Book Fair, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.