2022 Billboard Music Awards: Olivia Rodrigo is the top winner

May 15, 2022

by Carla Hay

Doja Cat at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 15, 2022. (Photo by David Becker/NBC)

With seven prizes, Olivia Rodrigo was the top winner at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards, which were presented on May 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Sean “Diddy” Combs hosted the show, which was televised in the U.S. on NBC and streamed live on Peacock.

Rodrigo (who did not attend the ceremony) won the awards for Best New Artist, Top Female Artist, Top Hot 100 Artist, Top Streaming Songs Artist, Top Radio Songs Artist, Top Billboard Global 200 Artist and Top Billboard 200 Album (for “Sour”).

Other artists who won several awards included Drake (five prizes, including Top Artist); Ye (six prizes in the Gospel and Christian categories); and Doja Cat (four prizes, mostly in the R&B categories). Drake and Ye (the artist formerly known as Kanye West) did not attend the ceremony.

Mary J. Blige received the Icon award, which was presented to her by Janet Jackson. The Weeknd, who was the artist with the ceremony’s most nominations (17), ended up winning just one prize at the 2022 Billboard Music Awards: Top R&B Male Artist. The Weeknd did not attend the ceremony. Other winners who were no-shows included BTS, Taylor Swift, The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber.

Performers at the show were Diddy, Bryson Tiller, Jack Harlow, Teyana Taylor, Silk Sonic, Rauw Alejandro, Florence and the Machine, Miranda Lambert, Elle King, Latto, Morgan Wallen, Megan Thee Stallion, Dan + Shay, Travis Scott, Machine Gun Kelly, Ed Sheeran, Becky G, Maxwell and Burna Boy.

Presenters at the show included City Girls, Lainey Wilson, DJ Khaled, Heidi Klum, Fat Joe, Michael Bublé, Anitta, Diddy, Liza Koshy, Shenseea, French Montana, Pusha T, Teyana Taylor, graduates of Capital Prep, Dove Cameron, Dixie D’Amelio, Chloe Bailey, Anthony Anderson, Tiffany Haddish and Giveon.

According to a press release: “This year’s awards are based on the chart period of April 10, 2021 through March 26, 2022. Billboard Music Awards finalists and winners are based on key fan interactions with music, including album and digital song sales, streaming, radio airplay, and social engagement, tracked by Billboard and its data partners, including Luminate.” Finalists are also determined by performance on the Billboard Charts.

The 2022 Billboard Music Awards show was produced by MRC Live & Alternative. Robert Deaton was the executive producer.

Here is the complete list of nominees and winners for the 2022 Billboard Music Awards:

*=winner

ARTIST AWARDS

Top Artist
Doja Cat
Drake*
Olivia Rodrigo
Taylor Swift
The Weeknd

Top New Artist
Givēon
Masked Wolf
Olivia Rodrigo*
Pooh Shiesty
The Kid Laroi

Top Male Artist
Drake*

Ed Sheeran
Justin Bieber
Lil Nas X
The Weeknd

Top Female Artist
Adele
Doja Cat
Dua Lipa
Olivia Rodrigo*

Taylor Swift

Top Duo/Group
BTS*

Glass Animals
Imagine Dragons
Migos
Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)

Top Billboard 200 Artist
Adele
Drake
Juice WRLD
Morgan Wallen
Taylor Swift*

Top Hot 100 Artist
Doja Cat
Drake
Justin Bieber
Olivia Rodrigo*
The Weeknd

Top Streaming Songs Artist
Doja Cat
Drake
Lil Nas X
Olivia Rodrigo*
The Weeknd

Top Song Sales Artist
Adele
BTS*
Dua Lipa
Ed Sheeran
Walker Hayes

Top Radio Songs Artist
Doja Cat
Ed Sheeran
Justin Bieber
Olivia Rodrigo*
The Weeknd

Top Billboard Global 200 Artist (new category)
Doja Cat
Ed Sheeran
Justin Bieber
Olivia Rodrigo*
The Weeknd

Top Billboard Global (Excluding U.S.) Artist (new category)
BTS
Dua Lipa
Ed Sheeran*
Olivia Rodrigo
The Weeknd

Top Tour
Eagles (Hotel California Tour)
Genesis (The Last Domino? Tour)
Green Day, Fall Out Boy & Weezer (The Hella Mega Tour)
Harry Styles (Love on Tour)
The Rolling Stones (No Filter Tour)*

Top R&B Artist
Doja Cat*

Givēon
Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak)
Summer Walker
The Weeknd

Top R&B Male Artist
Givēon
Khalid
The Weeknd*

Top R&B Female Artist
Doja Cat*

Summer Walker
SZA

Top R&B Tour
Bruno Mars (Bruno Mars at Park MGM)*

Omarion & Bow Wow (The Millennium Tour 2021)
Usher (The Vegas Residency)

Top Rap Artist
Drake*

Juice WRLD
Lil Baby
Moneybagg Yo
Polo G

Top Rap Male Artist
Drake*

Juice WRLD
Polo G

Top Rap Female Artist
Cardi B
Latto
Megan Thee Stallion*

Top Rap Tour
J. Cole (The Off-Season Tour)
Lil Baby (The Back Outside Tour)
Omarion & Bow Wow (The Millennium Tour 2021)*

Top Country Artist
Chris Stapleton
Luke Combs
Morgan Wallen
Taylor Swift*
Walker Hayes

Top Country Male Artist
Chris Stapleton
Luke Combs
Morgan Wallen*

Top Country Female Artist
Carrie Underwood
Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift*

Top Country Duo/Group
Dan + Shay*

Florida Georgia Line
Zac Brown Band

Top Country Tour
Luke Bryan (Proud to Be Right Here Tour)
Eric Church (Gather Again Tour)*
Chris Stapleton (All-American Road Show Tour)

Top Rock Artist
Glass Animals*

Imagine Dragons
Machine Gun Kelly
Måneskin
Twenty One Pilots

Top Rock Tour
Genesis (The Last Domino? Tour)
Green Day, Fall Out Boy & Weezer (The Hella Mega Tour)
The Rolling Stones (No Filter Tour)*

Top Latin Artist
Bad Bunny*

Farruko
Kali Uchis
Karol G
Rauw Alejandro

Top Latin Male Artist
Bad Bunny*

Farruko
Rauw Alejandro

Top Latin Female Artist
Kali Uchis*

Karol G
Rosalía

Top Latin Duo/Group
Calibre 50
Eslabon Armado*
Grupo Firme

Top Latin Tour
Bad Bunny (El Último Tour Del Mundo)
Enrique Iglesias & Ricky Martin (Live in Concert)
Los Bukis (Una Historia Cantada Tour)*

Top Dance/Electronic Artist
Calvin Harris
David Guetta
Lady Gaga*
Marshmello
Tiësto

Top Christian Artist
Carrie Underwood
Elevation Worship
for King & Country
Lauren Daigle
Ye*

Top Gospel Artist
CeCe Winans
Elevation Worship
Kirk Franklin
Maverick City Music
Ye*

ALBUM AWARDS

Top Billboard 200 Album
Adele, 30
Doja Cat, Planet Her
Drake, Certified Lover Boy
Morgan Wallen, Dangerous: The Double Album
Olivia Rodrigo, SOUR*

Top Soundtrack
Arcane League of Legends
Encanto*
In The Heights
Sing 2
tick, tick…BOOM!

Top R&B Album
Doja Cat, Planet Her*

Givēon, When It’s All Said and Done…Take Time
Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak), An Evening With Silk Sonic
Summer Walker, Still Over It
The Weeknd, Dawn FM

Top Rap Album
Drake, Certified Lover Boy*

Moneybagg Yo, A Gangsta’s Pain
Rod Wave, SoulFly
The Kid Laroi, F*ck Love
Ye, Donda

Top Country Album
Florida Georgia Line, Life Rolls On
Lee Brice, Hey World
Taylor Swift, Fearless (Taylor’s Version)
Taylor Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version)*
Walker Hayes, Country Stuff: The Album

Top Rock Album
AJR, OK Orchestra
Coldplay, Music of the Spheres
Imagine Dragons, Mercury – Act 1
John Mayer, Sob Rock
Twenty One Pilots, Scaled and Icy*

Top Latin Album
Eslabon Armado, Corta Venas
J Balvin, Jose
Kali Uchis, Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios)
Karol G, KG0516*
Rauw Alejandro, Vice Versa

Top Dance/Electronic Album
C418, Minecraft – Volume Alpha
FKA twigs, Caprisongs
Illenium, Fallen Embers*
Porter Robinson, Nurture
Rüfüs Du Sol, Surrender

Top Christian Album
Carrie Underwood, My Savior
CeCe Winans, Believe for It
Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music, Old Church Basement
Phil Wickham, Hymn of Heaven
Ye, Donda*

Top Gospel Album
CeCe Winans, Believe for It
Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music, Old Church Basement
Maverick City Music, Jubilee: Juneteenth Edition
Maverick City Music & Upperroom, move your heart.
Ye, Donda*

SONG AWARDS

Top Hot 100 Song
Doja Cat featuring SZA, “Kiss Me More”
Dua Lipa, “Levitating”
Olivia Rodrigo, “good 4 u”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”*
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Streaming Song
Dua Lipa, “Levitating”
Glass Animals, “Heat Waves”
Olivia Rodrigo, “good 4 u”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”*
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Selling Song
BTS, “Butter”*

BTS, “Permission to Dance”
Dua Lipa, “Levitating”
Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like”

Top Radio Song
Dua Lipa, “Levitating”*

Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
Olivia Rodrigo, “good 4 u”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Collaboration
Doja Cat featuring SZA, “Kiss Me More”
Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar & GIVĒON, “Peaches”
Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow, “Industry Baby”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”*
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Billboard Global 200 Song (new category)
Dua Lipa, “Levitating”
Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
Olivia Rodrigo, “good 4 u”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”*
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Billboard Global (Excluding U.S.) Song (new category)
BTS, “Butter”
Ed Sheeran, “Bad Habits”
Lil Nas X, “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)”
The Kid Laroi & Justin Bieber, “Stay”*
The Weeknd & Ariana Grande, “Save Your Tears”

Top Viral Song (new category)
Doja Cat featuring SZA, “Kiss Me More”*
Gayle, “Abcdefu”
Glass Animals, “Heat Waves”
Masked Wolf, “Astronaut in the Ocean”
Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like”

Top R&B Song
Doja Cat & The Weeknd, “You Right”
Givēon, “Heartbreak Anniversary”
Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar & Givēon, “Peaches”
Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak), “Leave The Door Open”*
WizKid featuring Justin Bieber & Tems, “Essence”

Top Rap Song
Drake featuring 21 Savage, Project Pat, “Knife Talk”
Drake featuring Future & Young Thug, “Way 2 Sexy”
Lil Nas X featuring Jack Harlow, “Industry Baby”*
Masked Wolf, “Astronaut In The Ocean”
Polo G, “Rapstar”

Top Country Song
Chris Stapleton, “You Should Probably Leave”
Jason Aldean & Carrie Underwood, “If I Didn’t Love You”
Jordan Davis featuring Luke Bryan, “Buy Dirt”
Luke Combs, “Forever After All”
Walker Hayes, “Fancy Like”*

Top Rock Song
Coldplay X BTS, “My Universe”
Elle King & Miranda Lambert, “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Imagine Dragons, “Follow You”
Måneskin, “Beggin’”*
The Anxiety: Willow & Tyler Cole, “Meet Me at Our Spot”

Top Latin Song
Aventura x Bad Bunny, “Volví”
Bad Bunny, “Yonaguni”
Farruko, “Pepas”
Kali Uchis, “telepatía”*
Rauw Alejandro, “Todo De Ti”

Top Dance/Electronic Song
Elton John & Dua Lipa, “Cold Heart – PNAU Remix”*

Farruko, “Pepas”
Regard x Troye Sivan x Tate McRae, “You”
Tiësto, “The Business”
Travis Scott & HVME, “Goosebumps”

Top Christian Song
Anne Wilson, “My Jesus”
Ye, “Hurricane”*
Ye, “Moon”
Ye, “Off The Grid”
Ye, “Praise God”

Top Gospel Song
Elevation Worship & Maverick City Music featuring Chandler Moore & Naomi Raine, “Jireh”
Ye, “Hurricane”*
Ye, “Moon”
Ye, “Off the Grid”
Ye, “Praise God”

Review: ‘Respect’ (2021), starring Jennifer Hudson

August 8, 2021

by Carla Hay

Marc Maron, Marlon Wayans and Jennifer Hudson in “Respect” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

“Respect”

Directed by Liesl Tommy

Culture Representation: Taking place from the 1950s to 1970s, in various cities in the U.S. and Europe, the dramatic film “Respect” about music legend Aretha Franklin features a predominantly African American cast of characters (with some white people) portraying people who were connected to Franklin in some way.

Culture Clash: Franklin soared to the greatest heights in show business, but her personal life was troubled with alcoholism, abusive relationships and being haunted by childhood traumas. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Aretha Franklin fans, “Respect” will appeal primarily to people interested in formulaic celebrity biopics and don’t mind if the pacing and story are disappointingly uneven.

Skye Dakota Turner and Audra McDonald in “Respect” (Photo by Quantrell D. Colbert/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures)

It’s indisputable that Aretha Franklin is one of the greatest music legends of all time. She won every possible major award for singing. She influenced millions of people and had numerous iconic hits. She was celebrated for other areas of her life, such as her civil rights activism and charitable work. And she rightfully holds the title of Queen of Soul. Franklin (who was 76 when she died of pancreatic cancer in 2018) deserves a biopic that does justice to her extraordinary life. Unfortunately, the woefully muddled “Respect” is not that movie.

Simply put: In this movie, the music soars, while the drama often bores. At 144 minutes long, “Respect” is an uneven biopic that makes a number of baffling and terrible choices in how to present Franklin’s life. “Respect” is the feature-film directorial debut of Liesl Tommy, who has extensive directorial experience on Broadway and in television. Tracey Scott Wilson, who’s been a playwright and a TV writer, also makes her feature-film debut as a screenwriter in “Respect.” Their lack of feature-film experience might have hurt the movie.

“Respect” has the benefit of a very talented cast, including two cast members (Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker) who have won Oscars for their acting. Hudson, who portrays Aretha Franklin in the movie, is an excellent, Grammy-winning singer in her own right. She has standout moments in “Respect” when she sings Franklin’s songs with a fiery passion that’s admirable. But it’s hard to go wrong with the movie’s musical numbers when an outstanding singer like Hudson gets to belt out Aretha Franklin classics that Hudson was singing years before she got cast in this movie.

Where the movie stumbles is how it drags down too many scenes with sluggish pacing, mediocre acting and uninspired dialogue. In addition, “Respect” is often tone-deaf and borderline irresponsible when it comes to depicting racial inequalities and racism in a movie that mostly takes place in the U.S. during the era of legal racial segregation and the civil rights movement that helped make this segregation illegal. It’s as if this movie was made by people who want to forget the racism experienced by Aretha Franklin and other black people in America, and would rather have scene after scene of Aretha Franklin getting abused by her African American husband.

One of the biggest mistakes is that the movie—which is mostly told in chronological order from the 1950s to 1970s (with some flashbacks)—spends the first 20 to 25 minutes focusing only on Aretha as a pre-teen, beginning in 1952 when she was 10 years old. As important as it is to depict Franklin’s childhood, it didn’t need to take up this much screen time in a feature-length movie. This lapse in judgment in spending too much time on Aretha’s childhood seems to be because the filmmakers wanted to showcase the impressive singing talent of Skye Dakota Turner, who is fantasic in her role as a young Aretha.

However, the childhood scenes are very repetitive in showing that Aretha as a child was trotted out like a show pony by her domineering minister father, Rev. Clarence LaVaughn “C.L.” Franklin (played by Whitaker), to sing for audiences whenever he told her to sing. The audiences could be in places as varied as a church, a nightclub or a house party. C.L. knew early in Aretha’s childhood that Aretha was going to be a star, and he was going to do everything possible to make it happen.

The movie also shows how Aretha was affected by her parents’ separation when she was a child. By the time the movie begins in 1952, the couple had been separated for four years. Her mother Barbara (played by Audra McDonald) moved out of the family home, which can be intepreted as either abandonment or as a woman who didn’t have the money and resources to fight for child custody against a more powerful spouse.

Aretha’s father had custody of Aretha and her siblings from this marriage. These siblings included older sister Erma, older brother Cecil and younger sister Carolyn. The actors portraying these siblings are Kennedy Chanel as young Erma, Saycon Sengbloh as adult Erma, Peyton Jackson as young Cecil, LeRoy McClain as adult Cecil, Nevaeh Moore as young Carolyn and Hailey Kilgore as adult Carolyn.

C.L.’s mother (played by Kimberly Scott), who has the name Mama Franklin in the movie’s credits, helps raise the children. She is a kind and loving authority figure in the children’s lives, but not as warm and welcoming to the kids’ mother. Barbara is a mysterious and intermittent presence who’s treated like a pariah by C.L. and his mother. There’s a lot of tension when Barbara comes to visit the children.

The reason for the breakdown in the marriage is stated only as C.L. spending too much time away from home as a traveling minister. His alleged infidelities are not mentioned in the film, nor is it mentioned that he fathered a daughter named Carl Ellan (born in 1940) with a 12-year-old girl from his congregation named Mildred Jennings. (It’s a widely reported story that has not been disputed by the Franklin family.)

It is mentioned during an argument scene that C.L. abandoned his first wife and family and then moved on to Barbara, who was his second wife. Barbara and C.L. were never legally divorced. While still legally married but separated from Barbara, C.L. began an on-again/off-again relationship in 1949, with a gospel singer named Clara Ward (played by Heather Headley), who was his longtime companion until her death in 1973. Although she and C.L. were never married, they were known as the reigning couple of New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, where C.L. was a very influential member of the community.

Even though C.L. was the more dominant parent in Aretha’s life, the movie shows that her mother Barbara had a huge influence on Aretha as a singer and as a musician. The movie depicts this mother and daughter spending happy times singing together, often while Barbara played the piano. Aretha also became a skilled pianist.

Tragically, Barbara died of a heart attack at the age of 34 in 1952. The movie shows how Aretha was devastated by her mother’s death, but the movie doesn’t mention how Barbara died. When C.L. reluctantly tells Aretha the news about Barbara’s passing, Aretha doesn’t even ask what caused her mother’s death. It’s an example of how this movie sloppily leaves out realistic details and how it treats some of Aretha’s family members more like plot devices than real human beings.

Aside from having a messy and fractured family life, Aretha was also profoundly affected by childhood sexual abuse. It’s depicted in a non-explicit way in the movie as Aretha, at 10 or 11 years old, being the victim of statutory rape by a guy in his late teens or early 20s who was a guest in the Franklin home during a house party. Later, there’s a brief flashback to Aretha as a 12-year-old, pregnant with her first child: a boy named Clarence (named after her father), who was born in 1955.

For years, Aretha refused to publicly say who was the father of her son Clarence. In 1957, she gave birth out of wedlock to a second son named Edward, whose father was Edward Jordan. According to several reports, Aretha wrote in her will that Jordan was also the father of Clarence.

She went on to have two more sons: Ted White Jr. (born in 1964, from her first marriage to her manager Ted White), and Kecalf Cunningham (born in 1970, from a relationship she had with her tour manager Ken Cunningham). In the movie, Joel Xavier Alston and William J. Simmons portray Clarence; Christopher Daniel and Chase Burgess portray Edward; and Malaki Sample portrays Ted White Jr.

Aretha was a high-profile supporter of the U.S civil rights movement, and the movie correctly shows that she and her father C.L. were allies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (played by Gilbert Glenn Brown), the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968. However, the movie makes it look like Aretha never experienced racism from white people. It’s really insulting to viewers’ intelligence that the filmmakers of “Respect” make a big deal out of Aretha’s support of the civil rights movement and yet refused to show why the civil rights movement existed in the first place.

Aretha was born in Memphis and grew up in Detroit. She spent years touring in the U.S. during the ugly period in American history when racial segregation was legal. Black people and other people of color who traveled in certain parts of the U.S. experienced human rights violations, especially in places where people were segregated by race. Anyone who wasn’t white in a “white only” area could be subjected to hateful abuse or worse. And yet, the movie completely erases these racist experiences from her life.

It wouldn’t have been so hard to have something as simple as a scene of Aretha traveling somewhere while on tour and seeing signs that said “White Only” or “Colored Only,” which were prevalent in these racially segregated areas. It’s grossly inaccurate for any movie about an African American entertainer who toured the U.S. during the segregation era to not show this despicable part of American history. And the fact that “Respect” was written and directed by black women makes it even more mind-boggling that they would leave out this truthful part of Aretha’s life. Aretha might have been a superstar, but she still experienced racism, just like any black person in America.

In fact, the movie makes it look like all the white people whom Aretha ever encountered in her life went out of their way to be nice to her. And that might have been true on a business level when she had some type of fame and people were making money off of her, but not in her everyday life as an African American female, especially before she became famous. A large part of this movie is about before Aretha was a celebrity. That doesn’t mean this movie had to make all white people she encountered look like racists, because that would be inaccurate. But it’s also very wrong and insulting to the civil rights movement to depict Aretha Franklin’s life as being some kind of concocted fantasy where she was immune to racism.

The biggest racist and the biggest villain in the movie is Aretha’s first husband Ted White (played by Marlon Wayans), whom she married in 1961, at age 18, and who became her manager right around the time that she signed her first record deal. He is written as the worst possible stereotype of an angry black man. He’s abusive, violent and misogynistic. In case it isn’t clear that Ted is also a racist, he frequently spews derogatory racist names for white people and black people whenever he wants to feel important.

Ted flies into a rage when he sees other men, especially white men, admiring Aretha. There’s a scene in a hotel room where Ted verbally and physically attacks one of Aretha’s recording session musicians (a white man), who tries to talk Ted out of canceling a recording session that is going well. Ted wants to cut short the recording session, all because Ted didn’t like the way one of the musicians was touching Aretha.

Of course, you don’t have to be a psychiatrist to see (because the movie shows it) that Aretha’s attraction to Ted was partly to due to rebelling against her father (who greatly disapproved of Ted) and partly because she wanted a husband who was controlling like her father. Like many abusive partners, Ted has a charming side that he uses to keep his partner hooked on the relationship. Aretha is depicted as someone who was very insecure with low self-esteem, except when it came to showing her talent.

Although not as toxic as Ted, Aretha’s father C.L. is also portrayed as having an unhealthy relationship with Aretha. For example, in a scene where Aretha was a Columbia Records artist, she tells C.L. that she doesn’t have hit songs because “you don’t make good songs for me.” In response, C.L. slaps her in the face. The movie is filled with hokey lines, such as when Aretha’s father C.L. says to her when she fires him as her manager and replaces him with Ted: “You’re going to beg to take me back, but I won’t!”

Whitaker isn’t in the movie as much as Wayans, but both C.L. and Ted are depicted as two-dimensional control freaks. Ted manipulates Aretha to stay with him, by saying that they both have personal demons and only she can help him control his demons. It’s made very clear throughout the story, because the movie shows viewers through flashbacks, that Aretha’s alcoholism and her relationship problems are the result of her dysfunctional childhood and her trauma from sexual abuse.

The movie accurately shows that Aretha wasn’t an overnight sensation. During the early years of her career, when Aretha was signed to Columbia Records, she had trouble finding her identity as a singer. She sang mostly R&B music, but she couldn’t get any mainstream crossover hits from any of the albums that she released on Columbia. Columbia Records chief John Hammond (played by Tate Donovan) is depicted as friendly but not very attuned to Aretha on an artistic level.

In addition to her mother’s musical influence, Aretha had early musical guidance from Reverend Dr. James Cleveland (played by Tituss Burgess), who has a small role in the film, mostly playing the piano while Aretha sings. It’s such a small role that many viewers who don’t know Aretha’s history might forget that this character is in the movie. The character is written so generically that it’s a waste of Burgess’ talent.

Mary J. Blige has a brief supporting role as singer Dinah Washington, a friend and inspiration to a young Aretha. In one of the movie’s several melodramatic scenes, Aretha as a young adult in 1963 (before she was famous) is singing at New York City’s Villlage Vanguard nightclub, where Dinah is in the audience. Just as Aretha begins singing one of Dinah’s songs as a tribute, Dinah loses her temper and flips over the table where Dinah is sitting.

Dinah yells at Aretha in front of the crowd: “Bitch! Don’t you ever sing the queen’s songs when the queen is in front of you!” It’s the kind of scene that you might see in a Tyler Perry movie. Later, in the dressing room, Dinah has calmed down, and she offers this advice to Aretha: “Find the songs that suit you. Until you do that, you ain’t going nowhere.”

Aretha’s career vastly improved after she signed to Atlantic Records in 1966. Under the musical mentorship of Atlantic Records co-founder Jerry Wexler (played by Marc Maron), she found the songs that suited her. These hits included “Respect” (a cover version of an Otis Redding song), “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “Think,” all of which Hudson performs in the movie.

And for the first time in her career, Aretha’s session musicians were all white, which initially didn’t sit well at all with her racist husband/manager Ted. There are mutliple scenes where Ted and Jerry clash over the race of Aretha’s backup musicians. Ted wanted to stick with the black musicians Aretha had been working with for quite some time, while Jerry says these musicians are inferior to the white musicians whom Jerry wanted to have for Aretha’s backup band.

However, Ted couldn’t argue with the success that came when Aretha started getting big hits and became a major star. They moved to New York City and led a celebrity lifestyle that hid from the public a lot of abuse that Ted inflicted on her behind the scenes. The movie shows that after Ted brutally assaulted Aretha during a vicious fight, she left him to go back to her family in Detroit on at least one occasion. But he sweet talked her way back into her life and took a lot of credit for her success. The couple eventually divorced in 1969.

Jerry Wexler is portrayed as a shrewd wheeler dealer who was skilled with artists not just on an artistic level but also on a business level. He’s credited with bringing Aretha to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in 1967, to record one of her most well-known songs: “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” the title track of her album released that year.

For a movie about this music legend, there’s the expected number of hits, but they’re presented in a very superficial, jukebox style. One minute, Aretha is at home singing along with some family members to Redding’s “Respect” and saying how she wanted to record a version of the song, even though Ted and some other people were skeptical. The next minute, she’s recorded the song, and it’s a big hit.

There is some screen time (but not enough) showing how Aretha crafted the songs in the recording studio. Most of her hits were written by other songwriters, but she played piano and helped arrange many of her song melodies. The movie gives most of the credit for Aretha’s transformation in the recording studio to Jerry and the white musicians he hired to be her backup band. Jerry and these musicians are depicted as showing Aretha a different way of approaching music than what she was previously doing in a recording studio.

Aretha had the talent all along, but the movie has somewhat of a “white savior” narrative that Jerry and these musicians took her career to hitmaking levels. Eventually, she had a racially integrated band, but the movie presents any of her male co-workers as perceived problems for bullying Ted, who was paranoid that other men would try to seduce Aretha or try to undermine Ted’s control over her. Meanwhile, the movie shows that Ted was cheating on Aretha.

“Think” was one of the hits that Aretha wrote, but the behind-the-scenes story about the song is reduced to it being inspired by her abusive relationship with Ted, who got a co-songwriting credit. Later in the movie, when they have an argument, Aretha expresses regret about giving him that songwriting credit because she says he hardly worked on the song. Overall, the movie does a disservice in telling the stories behind Aretha’s biggest hits.

The story behind “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”—written by Carole King, Gerry Goffin and Wexler—is left completely out of the movie, even though the song is unquestionably one of Aretha’s greatest anthems. The closest that the movie comes to acknowledging who wrote “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” is during the end credits: There’s a clip showing the real Aretha performing the song during the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors, where Carole King was an honoree and rapturously reacting in the audience. It just serves as a reminder that no scripted project with actors can truly capture the musical genius of the real Aretha.

“Aint No Way,” written by Aretha’s younger sister Carolyn, is performed in the movie, which leaves out the story behind that song too. Carolyn was an “out of the closet” lesbian to her friends and family, and the song was about the secret love she had for another woman. The “Respect” movie does not discuss the personal lives of Carolyn and Erma, who were longtime backup singers for Aretha. And their personal lives didn’t have to be in this movie, but the movie erases a lot of the LGBTQ presence in Aretha’s life.

According to author David Ritz’s comprehensive 2014 biography “Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin,” gay and lesbian couples and hookups were very common among the performers and employees of the gospel tours that Aretha did in her youth, and they were among her earliest exposures to LGBTQ people. The closest that the movie comes to acknowledging the LGBTQ community that was part of Aretha’s life is during the movie’s 1952 opening scene at a Franklin house party, where two men are very briefly seen flirting with each other and giving each other an amorous embrace.

It’s as if the “Respect” filmmakers went so far out of their way to erase certain truthful aspects of Aretha’s life, in order to not to offend certain people who want to pretend that these facts of her life did not exist. Instead, the “African American diva with the abusive husband” narrative is one they obviously felt comfortable pounding into the story repeatedly. Aretha Franklin was married to Ted White for only eight years. She experienced racism for a lot longer than that, but you’d never know it by what the filmmakers chose to put or not put in this movie.

After Aretha and Ted broke up, Aretha’s older brother Cecil eventually took over her business affairs, but that’s barely acknowledged in the movie. Her siblings are just treated as side characters who are there to serve Aretha or get yelled at when Aretha is angry and/or drunk. More than once in the film, Aretha accuses her sisters of being jealous that she’s a more successful singer than they are. If you’re looking for any insightful Franklin family scenes in this movie, forget it. Her biological family members are shamelessly and unfairly written as supporting characters in a soap opera.

Aretha’s affair with her tour manager Ken Cunningham (played by Albert Jones) is portrayed as partly getting revenge on Ted for his infidelities and partly because Aretha turned to Ken out of loneliness. Unlike Ted, Ken is portrayed as a good guy. However, Ken got involved with Aretha during the worst of her alcoholism, so the relationship was doomed, even though the movie rushes in an “Aretha gets sober” redemption arc toward the end. The movie doesn’t show Aretha and Ken’s breakup, because the film ends in 1972, when Aretha recorded her “Amazing Grace” live gospel album, which remains the best-selling album of her career. (“Respect” also mentions the “Amazing Grace” documentary film that was made about recording this album.)

Hudson’s portrayal of Aretha is not horrible, but it’s far from an award-worthy performance. She excels during the musical numbers, but her dramatic scenes with some of the actors (especially with Wayans) are often mired in stilted, awkward pauses. Hudson sometimes has the real Aretha’s vocal cadence when she speaks, but other times she drops it and talks like Jennifer Hudson.

The scenes about Ted’s jealousy and abusiveness wallow in tacky melodrama. There’s a scene at an Aretha concert where Ted gets angry backstage when he sees that some of Aretha’s overzealous fans are trying to climb on stage. Instead of letting the professional security team handle it, Ted storms out on stage in the middle of the performance and acts like he’s about to body slam anyone who gets close to Aretha. And when Ted sees the way Aretha and Ken look at each other when they first meet, he’s ready to pick a fight with Ken.

One of the worst scenes in the movie is when a drunk Aretha falls off of the stage during a 1967 concert in Columbus, Georgia. This happened in real life, and she broke her arm in this incident. In the movie, no broken bones are mentioned, but she’s shown unconscious on the floor, like a rag doll. The entire scene is so clumsily filmed and melodramatic, it comes across as an unintentional bad parody.

As for her civil rights activism, because this movie inaccurately makes it look like Aretha never experienced racism first-hand, she’s portrayed as somewhat of a bystander in the civil rights movement. There’s a scene where Aretha, as a grown woman, asks her father for permission to march in civil rights protests, but he says no. There’s a scene where Aretha is shown getting the news about Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and later singing at his funeral. And there’s a scene that’s set in 1970, with Aretha giving a press conference where she talks about how imprisoned activist Angela Davis needs to be set free. There are no scenes of Aretha or anyone in her family actually experiencing racism directly, even though everyone knows it happened in real life.

Those are just some examples of how this movie disrespectfully chopped up and/or tossed aside aspects of Aretha’s life, in service of a warped narrative that Aretha never experienced racism, and the only people who ever hurt her were black men. In portraying Aretha’s illustrious and complicated life, this very misguided biopic took the tabloid route and made approximately half of the screen time be about Aretha in an abusive relationship with a man she was married to for eight of the 76 years that she lived.

Was she flawed? Did she make a lot of mistakes? Of course. But she deserved much better than a movie called “Respect” was willing to give her. Fortunately, there are several well-written Aretha Franklin biographies, interviews that she gave over the years, and (of course) her timeless music that give a more meaningful and more accurate picture of who she really was.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will release “Respect” in U.S. cinemas on August 13, 2021. A one-night-only sneak preview of the movie was held in U.S. cinemas on August 8, 2021.

Review: ‘Body Cam,’ starring Mary J. Blige, Nat Wolff, David Zayas and Anika Noni Rose

May 20, 2020

by Carla Hay

Mary J. Blige in “Body Cam” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

“Body Cam”

Directed by Malik Vitthal

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional city of Swinton, Louisiana, the horror film “Body Cam” has a racially diverse cast (African American, white, Latino and Asian) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: A veteran cop goes rogue in investigating a series of mysterious and bloody murders that have been recorded on surveillance videos.

Culture Audience: “Body Cam” will appeal primarily to Mary J. Blige fans and to people who like formulaic and predictable horror movies.

Nat Wolff in “Body Cam” (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Grammy-winning singer Mary J. Blige was nominated for two Oscars for the 2017 Netflix drama “Mudbound” (Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song), so it’s a shame that her next role in a live-action film turned out to be such an embarrassing dud.

After “Mudbound,” Blige had voice roles in the animated films “Sherlock Gnomes” (2018) and “Trolls World Tour” (2020), with both roles as supporting characters. In the live-action “Body Cam,” Blige is front and center as the main character— a troubled cop named Renée Lomito-Smith, who lives and works in the fictional city of Swinton, Louisiana. The movie is Blige’s first time getting top billing in a major motion picture—”Body Cam” is from the ViacomCBS-owned companies Paramount Pictures and BET Films—and it’s an unfortunate career misstep for her as an actress, due to her wooden acting in the film and the movie’s silly plot.

The only saving grace is that “Body Cam” has little chance of being seen by a large audience, so there probably won’t be permanent damage to Blige’s efforts to be taken seriously as an actress. Paramount Pictures apparently has so little faith in this movie that the studio didn’t even release a trailer for the film until the week before “Body Cam” was dumped as a direct-to-video release.

The beginning of “Body Cam” (which has almost every scene taking place at night) shows Swinton as a city in racial turmoil over police brutality. The opening scene takes place in a local diner, where a TV news report shows that a white cop from the Swinton Police Department has been acquitted in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black man. As the news report is shown on TV, a black cop named Kevin Ganning (played by Ian Casselberry) enters the diner, but he is told by the older black gentleman who serves him a cup of coffee that he’s not welcome in the diner.

After Kevin leaves the diner during this rainy night, he’s alone on patrol duty when he encounters a green Chevy van in a routine traffic stop. He looks inside the vehicle and sees something bloody in the back. He then orders the driver to step outside. A black woman in her 30s, wearing a hooded jacket, steps out with her arms raised. And then, a mysterious force swoops Kevin up in the air.

The movie’s story then shifts to 12 hours earlier, when Blige’s Renée character is seen in a meeting with an internal affairs psychiatrist named Dr. Lee (played by Han Soto), who interrogates her about her mental health, by asking if she has insomnia or troubling thoughts. “Have you moved on from your son’s death?” he asks.

As viewers learn, Renée has been grieving over the death of her pre-teen son Christopher (played by Jibrail Nantambu in flashback scenes), who passed away from an accidental drowning in a neighbor’s swimming pool. Although her husband Gary (played by Demetrius Grosse) is grieving too—Christopher was their only child—and Gary is very supportive of Renée, her emotional turmoil has apparently affected her job performance.

Renée is under investigation because she slapped a civilian during an argument with the civilian—an incident that was captured on her body cam, but not shown in the movie. The meeting is to determine if she will be suspended or be able to continue working in the department. Ultimately, Renée (who was on administrative leave during the investigation) gets to keep her job.

When she returns to the police department, Renée is put on the night shift and welcomed warmly by her colleagues. They include Sergeant Kesper (played by David Zayas) and patrol-duty fellow police officers Kevin Ganning, Darlo Penda (played by David Warshofsky), Gabe Roberts (played by Philip Fornah) and Mariah Birke (played by Naima Ramos-Chapman). Renée also finds out that she’s been paired with a rookie cop named Danny Holledge (played by Nat Wolff), who previously worked with Ganning.

The police staff meetings led by Sergeant Kesper show that there is a culture of strong solidarity that’s expected of the cops. Kesper expresses that the recent acquittal of their fellow cop colleague was the right decision. He also warns his subordinates that the controversial shootings have caused a lot of anger toward cops, so extra care must be taken in dealing with the public.

Meanwhile, Renée’s colleagues tease her about getting stuck with a rookie. She isn’t thrilled about having to train a newcomer, but she brushes off the good-natured ribbing and does her best to work with Danny, who is a “by the book” type of cop and eager to impress his more experienced co-workers.

It isn’t long for Renée and Danny to find out that they have very different styles of working. Renée is more of the “take charge” type, while Danny is more of a passive observer who follows the lead of someone who has authority over him. While out on patrol, they encounter a black boy who’s about 5 years old sitting alone in the middle of the street. As Renée approaches the boy with concern, his mother bursts out of a nearby house and shouts at Renée not to touch her son.

A small group of angry neighbors suddenly appear, and they’re hostile to Renée and Danny. Because they are cops, they’re clearly not wanted in the neighborhood. Renée quickly diffuses the situation by reassuring the crowd that she was only trying to help the boy because he wasn’t being supervised by an adult. As they leave the area, Danny tells Renée that he respects how she handled the incident.

Renée and Danny then arrive at an apparent crime scene: Officer Ganning’s squad car has been apparently abandoned, with the cop nowhere in sight. The green Chevy van shown earlier is near the squad car and also appears to be abandoned. The van has no license plates. And soon, Renée and Danny find a lot of blood near the car and bloody teeth on the hood of the car.

When Renée looks at the surveillance footage from the dashboard camera, and she sees how Officer Ganning encountered the mystery woman and then appeared to be abducted and lifted up in the sky by a mysterious and shadowy force. He was then brutally thrown on the ground. While the injured and bloodied cop is crawling on the ground, he is scooped up again and lets out a horrified scream.

While she’s still absorbing what she just saw, Renée tells the investigating cop Detective Susan Hayes (played by Laura Grice) that Office Ganning was probably murdered. But when Detective Hayes looks at the surveillance video, she tells Renée that the video was apparently erased because the footage doesn’t exist.

Upon further investigation, it’s confirmed that Office Ganning was murdered, when his mangled body is found impaled like a scarecrow on a steel link fence. In shock, Renée and Danny commiserate with each other at a local diner, where she opens up to him about the incident that put her on a leave of absence. She admits that she “lost it” with the civilian because he called her a “black bitch.”

She also tells Danny about her son Christopher and how he died. “I can’t let another person close to me die without doing something,” Renée tells Danny. And so, the rest of the movie is about Renée’s attempt to solve the mystery of her colleague’s murder and other similar murders that happen throughout the story.

Through surveillance footage, Renée was able to find out that the mystery woman in the van is a registered nurse named Taneesha Branz (played by Anika Noni Rose), who used to work at Winton Hospital but has mysteriously disappeared. And by doing an Internet search, Renée finds out that Taneesha had a 14-year-old son named DeMarco (played by Mason Mackie) who died of foul play, since he was found shot in an abandoned industrial area.

Unfortunately, this shoddily written screenplay from Nicholas McCarthy and Richmond Riedel has Renée breaking all kinds of laws to get to the bottom of the mystery herself. She steals evidence from crime scenes, and she breaks into Taneesha’s abandoned home multiple times. Danny uncomfortably witnesses some of these law violations (he’s with Renée the first time that she breaks into Taneesha’s empty house), and he voices his objections, but Renée essentially ignores him and does what she wants anyway as she tries to solve the case all on her own.

Part of her “going rogue” also includes a laughable scene where she convinces a morgue attendant to leave her alone in a roomful of bodies so that she can find the thumbprint that she needs to unlock a cell phone that she stole. This takes place after the “killer on the loose” strikes again by massacring several people in a rampage at a convenience store.

Danny and Renée—who are apparently the only cops in Swinton who get called to murder scenes in Swinton—are the first police officers to arrive after this mass murder spree. And, of course, Renée goes straight to the store’s security video to see what happened, since the ongoing theme in the movie is that Renée (and the viewers) are putting the pieces of the puzzle together through video surveillance footage.

The lackluster direction of Malik Vitthal and the moronic screenplay are mainly to blame for this dreary and unimaginative movie. The pacing in “Body Cam” is sometimes too slow for a story that’s supposed to be a suspenseful thriller/horror movie. The expected bloody gore (which isn’t very creative) takes place in numerous scenes, but the movie lacks character development in its paint-by-numbers storytelling that’s derivative of so many below-average movies in the horror genre.

And some viewers might be very annoyed that because almost everything in the movie happens at night, the entire color palette of the film is very dark and often very murky, even in the interior scenes. “Body Cam” cinematographer Pedro Luque lights a lot of scenes as if almost every location in Swinton is grimy and polluted. The movie was actually filmed in the vibrant city of New Orleans, but you wouldn’t know it from how the cinematography makes this movie’s city look like a depressing urban wasteland.

Blige often delivers her lines in a monotone voice and stiff demeanor that might be her attempt to portray Renée as someone who is numb with grief, but it comes across as simply dull and dreadful acting. The other actors in the film do an adequate job with their underwritten characters that have very forgettable dialogue. And in the case of Rose, who plays a mostly mute Taneesha, there’s hardly any dialogue to be said. Blige is the one who’s supposed to carry the film as the main character, and it appears that she’s not quite ready for this type of heavy lifting. Blige’s original song “Can’t Be Life” is tacked on to the film’s end credits, but even that tune is forgettable and certainly won’t be nominated for any awards.

The ending of “Body Cam” is very easy to predict, even down to the climactic scene that takes place in a dark and abandoned building where no self-respecting cop would go without backup. Unlike the surveillance video in the movie, “Body Cam” can’t be deleted or erased from Blige’s list of acting credits, but she probably wants to forget that she made this substandard film.

Paramount Pictures released “Body Cam” on digital on May 19, 2020. The movie’s VOD release date is June 2, 2020.

Review: ‘Trolls World Tour,’ featuring the voices of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, Sam Rockwell, Anderson .Paak, James Corden and Kelly Clarkson

April 12, 2020

by Carla Hay

Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) in “Trolls World Tour” (Image courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

“Trolls World Tour”

Directed by Walt Dohrn and David P.  Smith

Culture Representation: This animated film sequel to 2016’s “Trolls” has a racially diverse cast (white, African American, Latino and Asian) voicing characters based on troll dolls.

Culture Clash: The trolls live in different territories based on the music of their lifestyles, and the queen of the rock territory wants to take over everything.

Culture Audience: “Trolls World Tour” is a family-friendly film that will appeal mostly to kids, adults who young at heart and people who like a variety of hit songs.

Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom) in “Trolls World Tour” (Image courtesy of DreamWorks Animation)

On Broadway, there are jukebox musicals that string together a plot in between the performance of hit songs. And now, the jukebox musical trend has reached animated films with “Trolls World Tour,” which is a showcase for some original songs but mostly retro hits from various genres of music. This sequel to 2016’s “Trolls” packs in even more stars in the voice cast than its predecessor movie. The result is an energetic and vibrant ride that is utterly predictable but should be a crowd-pleaser for its intended audience.

Even though the plot of “Trolls World Tour” is pretty simple, there are five people who are credited with writing the screenplay: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger, Maya Forbes, Wallace Wolodarsky and Elizabeth Tippet. The large writing team for this movie is also a reflection of the huge increase in the size of the “Trolls World” voice cast, compared to the first “Trolls” movie. Walt Dohrn, who co-directed “Trolls” with Mike Mitchell, returns as a director on “Trolls World Tour,” but this time with David P. Smith as co-director. Dohrn voices several of the supporting characters in both movies.

Viewers of “Trolls World Tour” don’t need to see the first “Trolls” movie to understand what’s going on in this sequel, but it helps if more of a backstory is needed for the two central characters in both films: Princess Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick) and her best friend/love interest Bark (voiced by Justin Timberlake). In “Trolls,” Bark (who tends to be overly pessimistic) became a reluctant ally and then eventual best friend to Poppy (who tends to be overly optimistic) in the Trolls’ quest to defeat the sad and angry creatures known as Bergens, whose goal was to make everyone in the world as miserable as they are.

In “Trolls World Tour,” the chief villain is Princess Barb (voiced by Rachel Bloom) a rocker girl who leads the Trolls whose music of choice is hard rock/heavy metal. Ozzy Osbourne is perfectly cast for the voice of King Thrash, Barb’s father. Barb’s goal is to have rock music take over all six territories in the Troll Kingdom. Each territory represents the music that embodies the Trolls’ lifestyle in each territory.

The other five territories represent the music genres of pop, techno, country, funk and classical. In the beginning of the movie, Barb and her minions arrive in a fleet of sharks to take over the techno territory. She takes a valuable guitar string from the Techno trolls and then she and her army of rock Trolls then move on to conquer the next territory.

When news of the invasion hits the pop territory, Poppy thinks that Barb has good intentions to unite all of the Trolls. But her father King Peppy (voiced by Dohrn) reveals a secret from the Trolls’ historical past: The Trolls almost had a civil war over their different tastes in music, so the music territories were created so Trolls who liked the same genre of music could live together in harmony. Each territory was bestowed with a magical guitar string that has the power to control that territory.

Barb is on a mission to collect all six of the magical strings to put them on a guitar. Once the guitar has the six strings on it, she’ll play an “ultimate power chord” that will give her and rock music complete control over all the Troll territories. Since “Trolls World Tour” is an animated jukebox musical, Barb belts out several rock songs along the way, including Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and Heart’s “Barracuda.”

“Trolls World Tour” has several jokes about clichés and criticisms that go with certain music genres. The movie pokes fun at pop for being simple, repetitive “earworm” music. Rock is parodied for attracting low-life burnouts who wear mullets or mohawks and do “devil horn” signs. Country music has a stereotype of being full of sad songs and fans who act like rednecks or country bumpkins.

Classical music is labeled as “boring.” Techno gets criticism for its artists not playing “real” instruments. And funk (whose territory is populated with African American voice actors) calls out rap and pop for over-using funk samples. The original song “It’s All Love (History of Funk)” is a clap back to all the music that lifted funk riffs to make hit songs and funk artists not being paid properly for these samples.

Not for nothing, George Clinton (co-founder of Parliament-Funkadelic, one of the most-sampled groups of all time) is cast as new Trolls character King Quincy, who rules the funk territory Vibe City with Queen Essence (voiced by Mary J. Blige). The funk royals have a son named Prince D, voiced by hip-hop star Anderson .Paak, who performs the original song “Don’t Slack” with Timberlake in the film.  And returning Trolls character Cooper (voiced by Ron Funches) from the pop territory finds out that he has a connection to the funk territory.

“Trolls World Tour” once again has Poppy convincing a reluctant and wary Branch to go with her to help stop the chief villain before it’s too late. “Trolls” characters that are also in “Trolls World Tour” are loyal Biggie (voiced by James Corden) and wisecracking Guy Diamond (voiced by Kunal Nayyar), who provide some of the comic relief in the film

But there are so many new characters in “Trolls World Tour” that the movie could feel overstuffed for people who have short attention spans and might have trouble keeping track of them all. Guy now has a son named Tiny Diamond (voiced by Kenan Thompson). Delta Dawn (voiced by Kelly Clarkson) is a sassy, big-haired redhead who is a singer and leader of the country music territory.

Also in the country music territory is Hickory (voiced by Sam Rockwell), a multitalented and brave cowboy who befriends Poppy, much to Branch’s chagrin. Branch has been trying to tell Poppy that he loves her but is afraid to do it, so he gets jealous when it looks like Hickory is winning Poppy’s admiration. Hickory is the biggest standout new character in “Trolls World Tour” since he and his “yee-haw” can-do personality get a lot of screen time.

Some other supporting characters in the movie are the bounty hunters that Barb hires to help her track down the elusive pop guitar string that Poppy has in her possession. The bounty hunters are smooth jazz musician Chaz (voiced by Jamie Dornan), a clarinet-playing Kenny G type who plays hypnotic music that gets on people’s nerves. The other bounty hunters are musical groups representing reggaeton, K-Pop and yodelers. J Balvin has a cameo as the reggaeton leader, and his song “Mi Gente” is in the movie.

There are several familiar hits that get the medley treatment in “Trolls World Tour,” including Spice Girls’ “Wannabe,” Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” has the lyrics reworked with the word “trolls” replacing the word “girls.” Dierks Bentley’s song “Leaving Lonesome Flats” (written for “Trolls World Tour”) is featured in a country music segment. And an electronic-dance music concert in the movie’s opening scene has the DJ playing Daft Punk’s “One More Time.”

“Trolls World Tour” music directors are Timberlake and Ludwig Goransson, the musician who won an Oscar and a Grammy for the “Black Panther” score, as well as Grammys for co-writing and producing Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” Timberlake and Goransson co-wrote and produced the majority of the original songs in “Trolls World Tour,” such as the ballad “Perfect for Me,” “Don’t Slack” and “Just Sing (Trolls World Tour),” which is the movie’s obvious signature anthem. The music is very catchy, but won’t be as huge as Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop The Feeling!,” the Oscar-nominated song from the first “Trolls” movie.

In its plot about Barb the villain trying to make all the Trolls conform to the way she wants them to be, “Trolls World Tour” has a message that people can live peacefully while respecting each other’s differences. It’s a message that comes wrapped in a lot of musical numbers and action sequences, but it’s something that audiences can take to heart. And along the way, some people might learn more about music genres that they might have previously dismissed because of certain prejudices.

Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation released “Trolls World Tour” for rental only on digital and VOD on April 10, 2020.

2019 BET Awards: Tyler Perry, Mary J. Blige to receive special prizes

June 12, 2019

The following is a press release from BET:

BET announces Tyler Perry will be honored with the Ultimate Icon Award, and Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, Oscar-nominated actress and philanthropist Mary J. Blige will be honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th annual “BET Awards.” The entertainment powerhouse and business mogul will be presented with the Ultimate Icon Award for his continued cultural impact in entertainment. The 2019 “BET Awards” will air LIVE on Sunday, June 23 at 8pm ET from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, CA on BET.

Tyler Perry, the now world-renowned producer, director, actor, screenwriter, playwright, and author, built his entertainment empire up from meager beginnings. Inspired by a simple piece of advice from Oprah Winfrey, Perry began his career by simply putting his thoughts and life experiences to paper, creating the foundation of his acclaimed catalog of plays, films, television series, and award-winning novels. Taking his iconic character Madea from stage to screen, Perry introduced the world to a “God-fearing, gun-toting, loud-mouthed grandmother”, in 2005’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” He’s since gone on to create numerous successful feature films and scripted series like “House of Payne” and “The Haves and The Have Nots” that bring messages of spiritual hope and down-home humor into homes across the country.

In the fall of 2006, Perry opened a 200,000 square foot studio in Atlanta which during its operation, was home to over 15 films and 800 episodes of Perry’s five television series. In 2015, Tyler Perry expanded and opened a state-of-the-art film and television studio on the historic grounds of the former Fort McPherson army base.  The new 330-acre campus is one of the largest production studios in the country boasting 40 buildings on the national register of historic places, 11 purpose-build sound stages, 200 acres of green space and an expansive backlot.  His unique brand of inspirational entertainment has authentically spoken to and impacted black culture and helped shape the future of black entertainment.

With a career of landmark achievements including eight multi-platinum albums, nine Grammy Awards (plus a staggering 32 nominations), two Academy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, and a SAG nomination, Mary J. Blige has remained a figure of inspiration, transformation and empowerment making her one of the defining voices of the contemporary music era and cemented herself as a global superstar. And in the ensuing years, the singer/songwriter has attracted an intensely loyal fan base—responsible for propelling worldwide sales of more than 50 million albums. She began moving people with her soulful voice at the age of 18 when she became Uptown Records youngest and first female artist. Over the years, Blige has helped redefine R&B in the contemporary music era with chart-topping hits like “Be Without You”, “No More Drama” and “Family Affair.” At the 2018 Academy Awards, Blige made history as the first double nominee across the acting and music categories for Best Song and Best Supporting Actress for her work on Mudbound.

As previously announced, the first group of performers for the 19th annual “BET Awards” include Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Migos, H.E.R., Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, Mustard, Lil Baby, Yung Miami of City Girls, Lucky Daye and Kiana Ledé. Additionally, Taraji P. Henson, Lena Waithe, Morris Chestnut, Yara Shahidi, and Marsai Martin were also announced as presenters.

The 2019 “BET AWARDS” will simulcast LIVE at 8pm ET across seven Viacom networks in the U.S. including BET, BET HER, MTV, MTV 2, MTV Classic, VH1, and Logo. Internationally, the show will simulcast for the first time on BET Africa at 2am CAT on June 24, followed by international broadcasts in the UK on June 24 at 9pm BST, South Korea on June 25 at 9pm KST and in France on June 25 at 9pm CEST.  Internationally, BET will honor Best International Act in-show, along with the fan-voted category Best New International Act and BET International Global Good Award during the live red carpet pre-show.

Connie Orlando, Executive Vice-President, Head of Programming at BET will serve as Executive Producer for the “BET Awards” 2019 along with Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment.

BET.com/betawards is the official site for the “BET Awards” and will have all the latest news and updates about this year’s show.

ABOUT BET NETWORKS

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news, and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel reaches more than 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, and sub-Saharan Africa. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions: BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

ABOUT “BET AWARDS”

The “BET Awards” is one of the most watched awards shows on cable television according to the Nielsen Company. The “BET Awards” franchise remains as the #1 program in cable TV history among African-Americans, and it is BET’s #1 telecast every year. It recognizes the triumphs and successes of artists, entertainers, and athletes in a variety of categories.

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT

Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company founded by entertainment industry veteran Jesse Collins. For more than a decade, Collins has played an integral role in producing some of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. Collins has produced groundbreaking and award-winning television programming, including “BET Awards,” “Grammy Awards,” “Soul Train Music Awards,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF An Evening of Stars,” “ABFF Awards” and “BET Hip Hop Awards.” Collins was an executive producer of the hit TV series “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” starring Kevin Hart, and the critically acclaimed “The New Edition Story,” a biopic on the boy band that aired as a three-part miniseries on BET in January 2017. He is also the executive producer of VH1 shows “Dear Mama” and “Hip Hop Squares” with Ice Cube. Most recently, JCE executive-produced “The Bobby Brown Story.” The miniseries picked up where “The New Edition Story” miniseries left off and chronicled the talented but troubled singer’s exit from the popular 80s boy band through his solo success. It debuted on BET in September 2018 and was the highest-rated non-tentpole program on the network since “The New Edition Story.” Next for JCE is the second season of “American Soul” on BET and Netflix’s upcoming series “Rhythm and Flow.”

 

2019 BET Experience: Mary J. Blige, Cardi B, Migos, Meek Mill, YG, H.E.R., Yara Shahidi, Lena Waithe, among celebrity participants

May 20, 2019

The following is a press release from BET:

BET Networks announced the highly anticipated BET Fan Fest lineup as part of the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® June 20 – 23, 2019. The annual festival will include the return of Genius Talks, BET Experience 3-on-3 Celebrity Basketball Tournament, Celebrity Dodgeball Game, BET X House of Fashion & Beauty, Coca-Cola Music Studio, DJ Hed presents Kicksperience sponsored by Sprite®, Casting Call along with a newly added activations, Roller-skating Party, Next Rap Star.

FRIDAY, JUNE 21 AND SATURDAY, JUNE 22

COCA-COLA MUSIC STUDIO

The BET Experience Coca-Cola Music Studio will debut some of today’s emerging acts including Elhae, Killumantii, TJ Porter, Ceraadi, Bobby Sessions, Earth Gang, Control the Sound, Happy Birthday Calvin and other special guests.

BET X HOUSE OF FASHION & BEAUTY

BET X House of Fashion & Beauty will be a destination that celebrates and highlights the best of urban hip hop culture through the lens of fashion, beauty, music and dance. Embracing the diversity of hip hop and the nuance manifestations of the international cultural experience, House of Fashion & Beauty will feature the authentic stories of the “streets” through a global perspective with music, fashion and beauty being at the center. Participating talent include

GENIUS TALKS

The always-inspirational Genius Talks returns with prominent personalities across various industries joining fans for uplifting conversation and gems of guidance based on their experiences. This year, Lena Waithe, Yara Shahidi, and Marsai Martin join the series alongside moderator, Jemele Hill, to share their knowledge and keys to success with fans. Past guests have included illustrious stars such as Snoop Dogg, Kobe Bryant, Ava DuVernay, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, DJ Khaled, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tip “T.I.” Harris and Yvonne Orji.

CELEBRITY DODGEBALL GAME

The annual BET Experience Celebrity Dodgeball Game returns, four teams of celebrity challengers will face off in the all-new Celebrity Dodgeball Game taking place on Friday, June 21.

DJ HED PRESENTS KICKSPERIENCE SPONSORED BY SPRITE®

The fresh interactive sneaker event, Kicksperience is back! DJ Hed Presents Kicksperince sponsored by Sprite® will highlight the sneaker culture phenomenon, bringing together generations of culture defining sneakers, streetwear brands, art, and music to the robust BET Fan Fest line-up. The electrifying pop-up will incorporate artists and tastemakers, authentic to sneaker culture, for the ultimate sneaker experience. The activation will host a sneaker customization space with renowned Artist, Chad Cantcolor, brands ranging from Puma to Sprayground, live taping of BET Digital’s Colorways & Toeboxes, and opportunities to purchase shoes on site. Selected by LA’s own DJ Hed performers include Rapsody,1TakeJay, AzChike, Azjah, GPerico, John Hart, Morgan Westbrook, Reason, Sneakk (SOB X RBE), Villain Park, Yhung T.O., Shoreline Mafia, Cupakke, Kamaiyah, and more!

GAMING TOURNAMENT

A dedicated gaming lounge within the BET Experience will give gamers an opportunity to play against and with celebrities and professional gamers for an opportunity to win one-of-a-kind prizes. Fans will compete with/ against our influencers in a variety of games from NBA2k to Fortnite including iPodKing Carter, The Lopes Brothers, Cheeseaholic, iDropzBodies, Bunnny MightgameU, Sunzi, Black Krystel and more

BET EXPERIENCE FOOD COURT *DUBSMASH MEETUP

A meet & greet experience featuringThe WickerTwinz, Essence and some of today’s up and coming hip-hop acts. Come hang and hit a challenge with some of your favorite dancers.

MCDONALDS STAGE PERFORMANCE

BJ The Chicago Kid to perform with other special guests.

NEXT RAP STAR

Do you have what it takes to be the next Cardi B, YG, or Drake? BET Experience is looking for the “Next Rap Star” in an once-in-a-lifetime competition to showing off your skills and charisma for a distribution deal with Island Records and the chance to perform at the 2020 BET Experience.

CASTING CALL

BET is on the search for fresh new faces to hit the airwaves. Come show off your acting chops in front of an esteemed panel of casting directors and BET Executives who will select an actor to win the opportunity to potentially join the cast of a BET Movie, TV Series or commercial.

3-on-3 CELEBRITY BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

Four star-studded teams will go head-to-head for bragging rights and for a charity at the 3-on-3 Celebrity Basketball Tournament. Download the BETX ’19 App to exclusively purchase your tickets for the Celebrity Basketball Game.

BET HER AWARDS

The empowering night honors the innovation and marked successes of women of color across various industries who have unapologetically broken barriers in the entertainment, arts and technology industries. Additionally, The BET HER Awards will include a special spotlight on two deserving nonprofit organizations dedicated to uplift and empower women of color.

BET EXPERIENCE AT L.A. LIVE PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA®

BET Networks, an entertainment powerhouse, once again brings the BET EXPERIENCE AT L.A. LIVE (BETX), June 20 – 23, 2019 presented by Coca-Cola®. This four-day event will be filled with music concerts taking place at The Novo by Microsoft and STAPLES Center; the BET Fan Fest at the Los Angeles Convention Center including seminars, celebrity basketball games, celebrity meet & greets; and other special interactive events. The weekend will be capped off with the “BET Awards” on Sunday, June 23, 2019 at Microsoft Theater.

Staples Center concerts:

June 20, 2019: Mary J. Blige. H.E.R., Summer Walker, Queen Naija, Bri Steves

June 21, 2019: Meek Mill, YG, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Blueface, Roddy Ricch

June 22, 2019: Cardi B, Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby, City Girls, Trippie Redd

HOW TO ATTEND:

The BET Fan Fest wristbands return to the fan experience this year. All attendees will be required to wear their wristband upon arrival in order to enter the free BET Fan Fest. Beginning May 6, attendees will be able to register for the BET Fan Fest wristbands by downloading the BETX ’19 app or going to www.betexperience.com. The BET Fan Fest wristband grants attendees access to some of the hottest events happening during the BET Experience weekend; including the House of Fashion & Beauty, Coke Stage, DJ Hed presents Kicksperience sponsored by Sprite, and year three of the BET Casting Call. Additionally, tickets to the BETX Celebrity Basketball game will be available for purchase starting today.

VIP Packages for the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE are on sale NOW. In addition to VIP amenities throughout the weekend and incredible seats for STAPLES Center shows, four levels of BETX VIP Packages offer guests the only opportunity to purchase tickets to the highly anticipated BET Awards, broadcast live from Microsoft Theater. Full package amenities and pricing for the Diamond, Platinum, Gold Plus and Gold Packages can be found by visiting https://www.betexperience.com or by calling (877) 234-8425.

General tickets for the BET Experience at L.A. LIVE presented by Coca-Cola® are available NOW at http://www.axs.com/betexperience.

ABOUT THE BET EXPERIENCE APP:

The BET Experience App is your interactive personal guide that takes you inside every installation, performance, and celebrity pop-up during BET Awards Weekend. Custom alerts let you stay up to date on all BET FanFest show schedules in real-time, celebrity meet & greets and other surprises throughout the ultimate four-day event. Go to the Apple Store or Google Play and download the BET Experience app today! Available on iOS & Android. Download it at BETExperience.com/app.

Follow the BET Experience on Twitter @betexperience for the latest and greatest and join the hottest conversation by using #BETEXPERIENCE. Feel free to also check us out online at http://www.betexperience.com.

About BET Networks

BET Networks, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ:VIA)(NASDAQ:VIA.B), is the nation’s leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in nearly 85 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa, France and South Korea. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American woman; BET Music Networks – BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET Networks around the globe.

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, Moody Blues, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe inducted; Tom Petty, Chris Cornell get tributes

April 15, 2018

by Carla Hay

Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi during Bon Jovi’s performance at the 33rd Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium in Cleveland on April 14, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

On April 14, 2018, at the Public Auditorium in Cleveland, the 33rd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony formally inducted Bon Jovi, the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues, Nina Simone (in the performer category) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe (in the early influencer category). The inductees, announced in December 2017, were voted on by a combination of ballots from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members and online voting from the public. HBO will televise highlights from the ceremony in a special that premieres on May 5, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Bon Jovi’s performance included the band’s reunion with two former Bon Jovi members: guitarist Richie Sambora (who was in Bon Jovi from 1983 to 2013) and bassist Alec John Such, who was in Bon Jovi from 1983 to 1994. Radio personality Howard Stern inducted Bon Jovi, whose current members are lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, drummer Tico Torres, keyboardist David Bryan, bassist Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X. Bon Jovi’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame set list consisted of “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “It’s My Life,” “When We Were Us” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

The Killers lead singer Brandon Flowers inducted the Cars, who formed in 1976 and amicably disbanded in 1988, but they had all surviving original members in attendance  at the induction ceremony: lead singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek, lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. (Bass player Benjamin Orr died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer.) The reunited Cars then went on to perform “My Best Friend’s Girl,”  “Moving in Stereo,” “Just What I I Needed” and “You Might Think” with Weezer’s Scott Shriner filling in on bass.

Later in the ceremony, the Killers performed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “American Girl” and Petty’s solo song “Free Fallin'” in a tribute to Petty, who died in 2017 of opioid-related causes.

Dire Straits broke up in 1995, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony wasn’t enough to bring the band’s most famous lineup back together. Former Dire Straits lead singer/guitarist Mark Knopfler and his rhythm guitarist David Knopfler opted not to attend; the two brothers who co-founded Dire Straits did not give an official explanation for snubbing the ceremony, but there have been reports that David Knopfler had issues with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s travel reimbursements. Former Dire Straits members Alan Clark (keyboards), Guy Fletcher (guitar) and John Illsley (bass) were there to represent the band at the ceremony, and they performed “Telegraph Road”

The Moody Blues, inducted by Heart lead singer Ann Wilson, did make it intact to the ceremony. The Moody Blues have been going strong since 1964, and the Moody Blues key players who attended the ceremony were current members Justin Hayward (lead singer), John Lodge  and Graeme Edge (drums) and former members Denny Laine (guitar) and Mike Pinder (keyboards). The current members of Moody Blues then performed “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock in Roll Band,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” Nights in White Satin” and “Ride My See-Saw.”

Wilson and Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell later paid tribute to fellow Seattle musician Chris Cornell, who committed suicide in 2017. Cornell was the lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. Wilson and Cantrell performed Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” in tribute to Cornell.

Nina Simone (who died in 2003 at the age of 70) was inducted by Mary J. Blige, who years ago had been planned to star in a biopic about Simone. Sam Waymon (Simone’s brother) accepted the honor on her behalf.) Lauryn Hill and Andra Day performed a musical tribute that included a medley of Simone songs including including “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” “I Put a Spell on You” and “Feeling Good.”

Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard inducted Tharpe, who died of a stroke in 1973 at the age of 58. Howard, Questlove and Paul Shaffer performed Tharpe’s “That’s All” and were then joined by Felicia Collins  for Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day.”

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Mary J. Blige, Howard Stern, Ann Wilson among the presenters

March 29, 2018

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction logo

The following is a press release from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

Special guests at this year’s sold-out Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, on April 14th at Public Auditorium in Cleveland will include:

  • Mary J. Blige presenting for Nina Simone
  • Andra Day performing for Nina Simone
  • Brittany Howard presenting for Sister Rosetta Tharpe
  • Ann Wilson presenting for The Moody Blues
  • Brandon Flowers presenting for The Cars
  • Howard Stern presenting for Bon Jovi

The 2018 Ceremony will honor this year’s inductees: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

The Ceremony will once again exclusively premiere on HBO on May 5th at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Red carpet arrivals on April 14th will be live streamed from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on rockhall.com, the Rock Hall’s Facebook page (@rockandrollhalloffame) and YouTube page (youtube.com/user/rockhall).

The Rock Hall will host a week of events leading up to the ceremony, including the unveiling the all new Hall of Fame, featuring the 2018 Inductee exhibit. The new floor will open on Saturday, April 7th during Celebration Day at the Museum with a performance by 2018 Inductee Richie Sambora, free admission, and a firework show. Visit rockhall.com for a complete schedule of Rock Week events.
To receive Induction Ceremony updates and announcements sign up for the Rock Hall’s e-newsletter at www.rockhall.com/e-newsletter, follow the Rock Hall on Facebook (@rockandrollhalloffame), Twitter (@rockhall) and Instagram (@rockhall) or join the conversation using #RockHall2018.

Hollywood Walk of Fame announces 2018 star recipients

June 22. 2017

The following is a press release from the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

A new group of entertainment professionals in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre/Live Performance, Radio and Recording have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was announced today, Thursday, June 22, 2017 by the Walk of Fame Selection Committee of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. These honorees were chosen from among hundreds of nominations to the committee at a meeting held in June and ratified by the Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors. Television Producer and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona, Chair of the Walk of Fame Selection Committee for 2017, announced the new honorees with Leron Gubler, President & CEO for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce who is also the emcee of the Walk of Fame ceremonies.

The new selections were revealed to the world via live stream exclusively on the official website www.walkoffame.com. The live stream began at 2:15 p.m. PDT and was held at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce offices.

“The Walk of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce our newest honorees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Committee looked carefully at each nominee and we feel that we have selected an eclectic group of talent that will appeal to the tastes of many fans around the world,” said Di Bona. “As a Walk of Famer myself, I know these honorees will remember the dedication of their stars with great memories and will be proud that they are part of Hollywood’s history now and forever. We look forward to their big day as the Walk of Fame Class of 2018 becomes cemented one by one on the most famous sidewalk in the world!”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2018 are:

In the category of MOTION PICTURES:   Jack Black, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Goldblum, F. Gary Gray, Mark Hamill, Jennifer Lawrence, Gina Lollobrigida, Minnie Mouse, Nick Nolte and Zoe Saldana

In the category of TELEVISION:   Anthony Anderson, Gillian Anderson, Lynda Carter, Simon Cowell, RuPaul Charles, Taraji P. Henson, Eric McCormack, Ryan Murphy, Niecy Nash, Mandy Patinkin, Shonda Rhimes, and posthumous Steve Irwin

In the category of RECORDING:  Mary J. Blige, Sir Richard Branson, Petula Clark, Harry Connick, Jr., Ice T, Snoop Dogg, Carrie Underwood and “Weird Al” Yankovic

In the category of RADIO:   Steve Jones

In the category of LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE:   Charles Aznavour, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and posthumous Bernie Mac

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its Walk of Fame Selection Committee congratulate all the honorees. Dates have not been scheduled for these star ceremonies. Recipients have two years to schedule star ceremonies from the date of selection before they expire. Upcoming star ceremonies are usually announced ten days prior to dedication on the official website www.walkoffame.com.

2017 Soul Beach Music Festival: Usher, Mary J. Blige, the Roots, Faith Evans, Cedric the Entertainer to perform

March 2, 2017
Soul Beach Music Festival

Usher,  Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, the Roots and Cedric the Entertainer will perform the 17th annual Soul Beach Music Festival, which will take place  in Aruba from May 24 to 29, 2017. The Roots have teamed up with Usher as his accompanying band, and performed several shows with him in 2016. Blige’s 14th studio album, “Strength of a Woman,” is due out sometime in 2017. In 2016, she co-headlined a tour with Maxwell. Evans was part of the Bad Boy Family reunion tour in 2016. The Roots also serve as the in-house band for NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Usher’s eighth studio album, “Hard II Love,” was released in September 2016.

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