- Created on 02 May 2013
“In The Hive,” a film based on a true story, is the latest project produced and directed by Chicagoan Robert Townsend. It is also notable as the last performance by fellow Chicagoan Michael Clarke Duncan but the impact of the film reaches across the country in the midst of inner city desperation and teen violence.
At first glance some might attempt to write this film off as a preachy melodrama but “In the Hive” is captivating film with dramatic moments and magnetic performances from new and established faces that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
“The Hive” is an actual alternative school for at-risk teens, boys who have been kicked out of other schools and no school will accept them due to behavior or learning issues. “The Hive” is their last chance.
The film centers around a young man, Xtra Keys, who is raised in an environment of destructive behavior and through tough love from the Hive staff seeks to make different choices even while his home life fights against the change. The role of Xtra is played by Jonathan “Lil J” McDaniel, a name and face to look out for in the future. I assumed he was a new actor but young audiences will know him as the boyfriend from the Disney hit television series “That’s So Raven.”
In the early stages of the film he is so convincingly menacing you would assume that was all he could offer but as we move along in the story he is equally sensitive in trying to keep his dysfunctional family together.
His mother, played by Vivica Fox, is a desperate woman who uses her body to leverage their survival, desperately chasing men “for a few dollars” or an opportunity. There is a scene where she comes into the trailer where they live drunk with her new “boyfriend.” When the boyfriend leaves for the bathroom she attempts to have a normal conversation with her son about his day but is constantly interrupted by a sexually suggestive conversation yelled from the bathroom by the boyfriend of the moment. The scene is powerful.
Most of the young men in the film are believable, including a good performance by Percy Daggs III who portrays a charismatic drug dealer attempting to charm his way thru life while ignoring the pain of his home life. The always scene-stealing Loretta Devine is tough and loving as Ms. Inez, the founder of the Hive who gives Xtra a humorous lesson in spelling profanity after he defaces school property.
The stand out performance is by the now-deceased Michael Clarke Duncan. Most films featured Duncan only for his menacing size but in this role we see a multi-dimensional character who is unafraid to show he cares about the kids but willing to step to them when they get out of line. This is his best and most complete work on film.
“In The Hive” is a good film but this is a movie that parents and teens can equally enjoy and most importantly it’s a film teenagers will go to school talking about to their friends and that is what good movies are truly supposed to do.
- Created on 02 May 2013
Chicago native Chef Josh Marks stands tall in the culinary arts world. Being over seven feet tall, he towers over everyone in the room but it is his food that has everyone looking up these days.
If you’re a fan of the television reality show “Master Chef,” you remember Marks and his Rocky-like rise on the culinary program. He auditioned for the show in Chicago simply because he was in town for his sister’s birthday, then he got voted off in the middle of the competition. He later earned his way back on the show and then his climatic final “cook off” landed him a second place finish.
Not only was Josh praised for his ability to create masterpiece, one-of-kind dishes, but his humility and willingness to absorb comments and critiques earned him numerous praise from the judges. I caught up with Josh to find out more about him.
Chicago Defender: When did you first start cooking?
Josh Marks: I really first started really cooking in my sophomore year of college. You’re living on your own and you have to eat so that's where it started for me.
CD: What was the first dish you prepared that let you know you had a gift for cooking?
JM: It’s not the most glamorous of dishes but it was chili. Once I was able to master some of the flavor aspects of cooking, that’s when I knew I was ready to go to the next level.
CD: What’s the one thing people don’t know about reality shows from the behind the scenes.
JM: It’s being sequestered or away from people, your family and friends for an extended period of time, in my case almost two months.
CD: What did you learn from being on “Master Chef”?
JM: I learned so much about the business of food. From working on food trucks to cooking for hundreds of people. I got a crash course in all the elements of the business. Most people would have to go years to put all that information together. I got it in a couple of months.
CD: You became the national spokesperson for Real Men Cook, a longstanding event held on Father’s Day. When did you first hear about it and how did you get involved?
JM: I attended Real Men Cook events when I was a high school student at Dunbar (Vocational High School). I was impressed with seeing men cooking and serving the community and the impact that it had. Once I had the exposure of “Master Chef “I knew my next move would be something where I could help people through food so it was a natural for me to become involved with Real Men Cook.
CD: What have you being doing since the show?
JM: I came back to Chicago to be announced as the spokesperson for Real Men Cook and prepared a meal for over 50 people at Macy’s that won praises. That was huge for me to be able to get back to Chicago and share my cooking with people there. I was also in Chicago as one of the main celebrity chefs for the “Chicago Best of Food and Wine” show.
CD: What’s next for you?
JM: I’m coming back to Chicago to meet with investors to open my cooking school, growing my commitment to Real Men Cook, and I have a line of seasonings that I am marketing. I really want to help people and change lives. Television is another avenue I want to explore more as I have seen how it reaches people.
CD: What’s the message you most want to leave people with?
JM: Everyone has a gift and talent in life. People assume because I’m seven feet tall that basketball would be mine but I found my love and passion and it’s food. Food is the one art form that can bring people together – even the most uncommon people. Everyone can enjoy a good meal and once you have people sitting down together the possibilities of bringing them together is endless.
- Created on 30 April 2013
LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson's struggle against drug addiction was on display Monday during opening statements in his mother's wrongful death case against concert promoter AEG Live.
Competing portraits of Jackson emerged during the first hours of the trial, with Katherine Jackson's attorney acknowledging the pop star's drug problems while also trying to show he was a caring son and father.
"His stirring voice, his musical genius, his creativity and his generosity and his huge heart was extinguished forever," her lawyer, Brian Panish, said in his opening remarks.
AEG's attorney, Marvin S. Putnam, said that while Jackson's death was tragic, his guarded private life meant the company was unaware that he was using the powerful anesthetic propofol.
"The truth is, Michael Jackson fooled everyone," Putnam said. "He made sure that no one — nobody — knew his deepest, darkest secrets."
A jury of six men and six women will determine whether AEG should pay Jackson's mother and three children for their losses after his 2009 death from an overdose of propofol. Millions and possibly billions of dollars in damages are at stake in the case that opened with private photos of the singer with his children and video clips of Jackson dancing.
"This case is about personal choices," Putnam said about Jackson's decision to be treated by physician Conrad Murray. "Also, it was about his personal responsibility. There's no question that Michael Jackson's death was a terrible tragedy.
"I believe the evidence will show it was not a tragedy of AEG Live's making," Putnam said as he ended his opening statement. Testimony will begin Tuesday.
Panish said AEG created a conflict of interest for Murray and forced him to choose between a large payday and Jackson's care. He told the jury AEG was feeling competitive pressures and wanted the Jackson tour to work at all costs.
"They didn't care who got lost in the wash," Panish told the jury.
Panish played a song that Jackson wrote for his three children, "You Are My Life," and displayed a note the singer had written for his mother that brought tears to her eyes as she sat in court.
Katherine Jackson sued AEG Live in September 2010, claiming it failed to properly investigate Murray before allowing him to serve as Jackson's doctor as he prepared for his "This Is It" shows. She is also suing on behalf of her son's three children — Prince, Paris and Blanket.
AEG denies it hired Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death. AEG's attorneys have said the company could not have foreseen the circumstances that led to the singer's death at age 50.
Panish told jurors that AEG executives ignored warning signs about Jackson's health and were motivated to push the singer and his doctor to improve their own financial fortunes.
"We're not looking for any sympathy," Panish said. "We're looking for truth and justice."
With Jackson's mother, brother Randy and sister Rebbie seated in the front row of the courtroom, jurors were shown numerous slides and several scribbled notes.
A couple of jurors nodded when the lawyer referenced Jackson's achievements, including successful concert tours and a Super Bowl performance.
Katherine Jackson dabbed her eyes after Panish read a note that her son wrote to her, detailing his feelings about her.
"All my success has been based on the fact that I wanted to make my mother proud," the singer's note said, "to win her smile of approval."
The personal touches came after Panish spent the first half of his presentation detailing Jackson's struggles with prescription drug abuse throughout the last half of his life.
He also showed jurors numerous emails sent between AEG executives concerning Jackson's health and their concerns that he wouldn't be able to perform 50 planned concerts in London.
Putnam recounted the chaotic days following Jackson's death as investigators and the public tried to figure out how the singer died unexpectedly. He urged jurors to remember that propofol killed Jackson.
"One thing became very, very clear," Putnam said. "While the world may not have heard of propofol, Mr. Jackson certainly had. The evidence is going to show you that he had been using that drug for years and years."
He said jurors will hear from Jackson's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, who would tell them that Jackson used the anesthetic in the 1990s.
"Mr. Jackson got very, very, good at hiding his addiction," Putnam said. "He didn't let anyone see it. Not his staff, not his children. This was the private Michael Jackson."
He said physician-patient confidentiality kept Jackson's reliance on propofol from becoming publicly known.
That extended to Murray as well. "He couldn't tell anyone about the propofol use," Putnam said of the former cardiologist.
Panish, however, said AEG saw the Jackson shows as a way to make a lot of money and better compete with Live Nation Entertainment Inc.
He displayed a March 2009 email sent before a news conference featuring Jackson, in which AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips wrote to Tim Leiweke, the former CEO of AEG'S parent company, that Jackson was drunk and refusing to address fans.
"This is the scariest thing I have ever seen," Phillips wrote Leiweke. "He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it's show time. He's scared to death."
Panish said Jackson's behavior was just one of several warning signs the company ignored before the death.
He told the panel that they would be the ones to assign liability for Jackson's death, but they should look at AEG's actions and not focus on Jackson's issues.
"Michael paid the ultimate price. He died," Panish said. "Michael has taken responsibility."
- Created on 02 May 2013
ATLANTA — Chris Kelly, half of the 1990s kid rap duo behind one of the decade's most memorable songs, "Jump," has died at an Atlanta hospital of an apparent drug overdose, authorities said. He was 34.
Kelly, known as "Mac Daddy," and Chris Smith, known as "Daddy Mac," made up the rap group Kris Kross, who were known for wearing their clothes backwards as they rhymed.
"It appears it may have been a possible drug overdose," said Cpl. Kay Lester, a spokeswoman for the Fulton County police. Lester said that was based on statements received at the scene as well as evidence turned up at Kelly's home in south Atlanta.
According to Lester, police were called to Kelly's home at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. He was then transported to the south campus of the Atlanta Medical Center.
Investigator Betty Honey of the Fulton County Medical Examiner's office said Kelly was pronounced dead at the hospital at around 5 p.m. Wednesday.
No official cause of death has been determined, pending an autopsy.
Kris Kross was introduced to the music world in 1992 by music producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri after he discovered the pair in an Atlanta mall. The duo wore their clothes backwards as a gimmick, but they won over fans with their raps.
Their first, and by far most successful song, was "Jump." The hit, off their multiplatinum 1992 debut album "Totally Krossed Out," featured the two trading verses and rapping the refrain, the song's title. The duo had surprising maturity in their rap delivery, though the song was written by Dupri. It would become a No. 1 smash in the United States and globally, and one of the most popular of that year.
Their success led to instant fame: They toured with Michael Jackson, appeared on TV shows, and even had their own video game.
The group was never able to match the tremendous success of their first song, though they had other hits like "Warm It Up," and "Tonite's tha Night."
In 2009, after photos surfaced that showed him with bald spots on his head, there were rumors that he had cancer. But in an interview posted on YouTube by Straight from the A TV, he said he suffered from alopecia, a condition in which people lose their hair.
"My health is good, I just got alopecia, I don't have cancer, not other sort of diseases," he said.
Earlier this year, the group performed together to celebrate the anniversary of Durpri's label, So So Def.
Wells Gabriel reported from Washington. AP Entertainment Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York contributed to this report.
- Created on 29 April 2013
Michael Jordan got married over the weekend, with Tiger Woods, Spike Lee and Patrick Ewing among those attending the NBA Hall of Famer's wedding in Palm Beach, Fla.
Jordan married 35-year-old former model Yvette Prieto on Saturday, manager Estee Portnoy told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The 50-year-old Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats.
Nearly 300 guests were present as they exchanged vows. The reception took place at a private golf club in Jupiter designed by Jack Nicklaus. Jordan owns a home near the course.
Entertainment included DJ MC Lyte, singers K'Jon, Robin Thicke and Grammy Award winner Usher and The Source, an 18-piece band.
The six-time NBA champion and Prieto met five years ago and were engaged last December.
Jordan had three children with former wife Juanita Vanoy. The couple's divorce was finalized in December 2006.