Review: ‘Little Richard: I Am Everything,’ starring Little Richard

January 24, 2023

by Carla Hay

Little Richard in “Little Richard: I Am Everything” (Photo courtesy of CNN Films)

“Little Richard: I Am Everything”

Directed by Lisa Cortés

Culture Representation: In the documentary film “Little Richard: I Am Everything,” a group of African Americans and white people discuss the impact of rock and roll pioneer Little Richard, who died in 2020, at the age of 87.

Culture Clash: Little Richard experienced homophobia, racism, cultural appropriation, drug addiction and showbiz ripoffs during his many ups and downs. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the target audience of fans of Little Richard, “Little Richard: I Am Everything” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching documentaries about music legends who influenced countless entertainers.

Little Richard in “Little Richard: I Am Everything” (Photo courtesy of CNN Films)

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” vibrantly captures the spirit of rock music pioneer Little Richard and doesn’t shy away from exploring his many contradictions. The documentary stumbles by adding sparkly visual effects to make him look “magical,” but these corny embellishments don’t ruin the movie. “Little Richard: I Am Everything” can at least be applauded for not sticking to an entirely predictable format, since the movie does a few other things in its effort to not be a typical biographical documentary.

Directed by Lisa Cortés, “Little Richard: I Am Everything” had its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The documentary unfolds in chronological order and has an expected mixture of archival footage of Little Richard (who died in 2020, at the age of 87) and exclusive documentary interviews with family members, associates, celebrity admirers and various culture experts. People don’t have to be fans of rock music to know that Little Richard was one of the originators of the genre. However, may people who are unfamiliar with him as an artist might be surprised by how his life went from one extreme to the other, often by his own doing.

People knowledgeable about rock history will also know already that Little Richard—just like other African American artists who were pioneers in rock music—was frequently ripped off creatively and financially. He was never fully appreciated by the industry when he was in the prime of his career. It was only after he loudly complained for years about not getting the recognition he deserved that he started to receive many industry accolades.

For example, Little Richard never won a Grammy Award in a competitive category (the Grammys Awards were launched in 1960, after Little Richard’s hitmaking career peaked), but he did receive a non-competitive Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1993, long after he stopped making hit records. He was in the first group of artists inducted into the Rock and Roll of Fame in January 1986, but he couldn’t attend the ceremony because he had the bad luck of being seriously injured in a car accident in October 1985. (He fell asleep behind the wheel of the char.)

Born in Macon, Georgia, in 1932, Richard Wayne Penniman (Little Richard’s birth name) knew from an early age that he wanted to be a flamboyant entertainer, starting from when he used to dress up in his mother’s clothes when he was a child. Little Richard, who grew up in a strict Christian household, was the third-youngest of 12 children. His mother Leva Mae Penniman accepted him for who he was, but his Charles “Bud” Penniman would brutally abuse Richard for being effeminate.

Bud Penniman was also a study in contradictions: He was church deacon and a brick mason, but he was also a bootlegger who owned a small nightclub and a house where he sold alcoholic drinks, which were illegal at the time. Ralph Harper, a former neighbor of the Penniman family, has this memory of Little Richard: “He was always banging on the piano, anytime you see him.”

Muriel Jackson, head of the Middle Georgia Archives, comments on Macon’s culture: “Macon is known for its churches. It’s a conservative, religious town.” Therefore, Little Richard wasn’t just bullied at home for being who he was. He also got a lot of abuse from other people in the community.

Specialty Records historian Billy Vera says, “They called him a sissy, a punk” and much worse. Emmy-winning and Tony-winning entertainer Billy Porter (who is openly gay) adds, “I can only imagine. I’ve lived a version of that. It’s debilitating. It’s soul-crushing. And it can be deadly.”

Little Richard spent the early years of his entertainment career in that vortex of contradictions: He would play the piano or sing in the choir in the stern atmosphere of conservative church gatherings, but he would also perform in the much-less restrictive (and taboo at the time) gay-friendly nightclubs in Macon and later Atlanta. He would often appear in drag at these shows under the stage name Princess LaVonne. In those days, it was illegal for men to go in public in drag, unless they it was part of an entertainment act.

One of his frequent hang-outs was Ann’s Tic Toc in Macon. And as a teenager, Little Richard worked at the Macon City Auditorium, where it made a huge impact on him to see many artists up close and backstage. The documentary mentions that when Little Richard saw his idol Sister Rosetta Tharpe (a guitar-playing vanguard in rock music) do a concert at the Macon City Auditorium in 1945, it changed his life. His piano-playing style was influenced by how Ike Turner played piano on Jackie Brenston’s 1957 song “Rocket 88.”

Little Richard was influential to countless artists, but there were people who influenced him on his artistic image/persona. In addition to Tharpe, another performer who helped shape Little Richard’s entertainment style was an openly gay drag performer named Billy Wright, who met Little Richard at the Gold Peacock nightclub in Atlanta in 1950, and they eventually became close friends. Wright had a pompadour hairstyle, wore heavy makeup, and had a thin moustache, which all eventually became signature looks for Little Richard. Did Little Richard copy Wright? Not really, as scholar Zandria Robinson explains: “They were kind of like mirrors that come into your life and show you who you really are.

In the early 1950s, black artists were limited to performing R&B, blues, jazz and gospel. The documentary mentions that when Little Richard was looking for a record deal, he didn’t quite fit in with any of these music genres, even though he was repeatedly told that he should perform blues, according to his longtime drummer Charles Connor. Instead, Little Richard was part of a small but growing number of black artists pioneering a new form of music that combined blues and R&B and made it more energetic, raucous and sexually frank. At first, this new form of music was called “race music” (to indicate that it was performed by black artists) but eventually became known as rock and roll.

Little Richard signed a deal with Signature Records. And his music as a rock artist eventually became hits not just on the R&B charts, but made their way to crossover into the pop charts. It’s mentioned that cars being made with radios had a big impact on people, especially the young people who tended to be rock fans, being able to listen to rock music away from their parents at home. It was during the 1950s that Little Richard had his biggest and most famous hits, including “Tutti Frutti” (a song that he later admitted was about anal sex, but he changed the lyrics before recording it), “Long Tall Sally,” “Good Golly, Miss Molly” and “Lucille.”

His stage act became known for his “let it all hang out” style of banging on the piano (often with a leg propped up on the piano) with passionate sexual energy that wasn’t often seen in piano players at the time. Little Richard was sexually ambiguous at a time when it was very dangerous for performers, especially male performers, to be sexually ambiguous. It’s noted in the documentary that Little Richard’s father eventually came to accept him after Richard became a local star in the Georgia music scene. Tragically, Bud Penniman was shot to death in 1952, outside his Tip In Inn nightclub. No suspect was ever charged with this murder, but Little Richard said for years that the culprit was Frank Tanner, who was Little Richard’s best friend at the time.

By 1956, Little Richard had moved to Los Angeles and brought many of his siblings with him. Several people in the documentary talk about how generous he was with family, friends and associates. Throughout it all, Little Richard’s mother was one of his biggest fans. Little Ricard’s longtime drag-queen friend Sir Lady Java (an activist/entrepreneur) says in the documentary about Leva Mae Penniman: “She was such a beautiful person. She knew who he was and what he was. And she loved him in spite of it.”

Tom Jones says in the documentary that out of the five artists who are considered the first megastars of rock and roll—Little Richard, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis—”Little Richard was the strongest.” By the early 1960s, Little Richard was usually named as one of the biggest influences of a slew of British artists who were making their mark in rock and roll. The Beatles (who hung out with Little Richard in the band’s pre-fame nightclub stint in Liverpool, England, and in Hamburg, Germany) and the Rolling Stones jumped at the chance to perform on the same bill with Little Richard.

Robinson says that Little Richard’s upbringing in the South both tormented him and was inherent to who he was: “The South is the home of all things queer, of the different, of the non-normative, of the other side of gothic, of the grotesque. Note that queerness is not just about sexuality but about a presence and a space that is different from what we require or expect.” In other words, it doesn’t mean that queerness is more likely to be found in the South but that during Little Richard’s youth, the issues of race, social class and sexuality were more dangerous for people in certain parts of the South, such as his hometown of Macon, than in other parts of the United States.

After he became famous, Richard would change the descriptions of his sexual identity many times. Sometimes, he identified as gay. Sometimes, he identified as straight, during the periods of time when he became a born-again Christian who renounced any sexual identity that wasn’t heterosexual. Sometimes, he identified as bisexual or queer. Regardless of what his sexual identity was or was perceived to be, Little Richard could not be reasonably confused with any other entertainer because he had such a strong and distinct persona.

Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, who says Little Richard was one of his biggest influences, comments on Little Richard’s persona: “It was almost like having a split personality.” The Rolling Stones were the opening act for Little Richard at the beginning of the British band’s career in the early 1960s. Jagger said he used that opportunity to study Little Richard’s onstage persona: “I would be at the side of the stage to watch him. Richard would work that audience.” Jagger, who started his career with a performing style of standing still a lot on stage, changed that style and took on some of the same techniques that Little Richard used, and which Jagger still uses today.

Tony Newman, drummer of the British band Sounds Incorporated, has fond memories of working as a backup musician for Little Richard, whom he met in London in 1962. “Nearly every night,” Newman says, “it escalated into a full-blown riot in the theater. I remember coming off of that and thinking, ‘Now this is rock and roll!”

A great deal of the documentary repeats information that music historians already know but other people might not know about how much white artists and music companies owned by white people benefited and often ripped off the work of innovative black artists such as Little Richard. Elvis Presley and Pat Boone were two of the white artists who’ve famously done cover versions of Little Richard songs. The documentary points out that while Presley often acknowledged Little Richard for being an influence that was crucial to Presley’s success (Presley publicly called Little Richard the “real king of rock and roll”), Boone was not as gracious in admitting how much Boone was profiting off of music originally made by black artists such as Little Richard. In most cases, white artists got more money and recognition for performing songs originally performed by black artists.

This documentary didn’t have to do any real investigating to reveal any big secrets about Little Richard when it came to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, because Little Richard told secrets about himself years ago in numerous interviews. The documentary includes clips of TV and radio interviews where he openly talks about indulging in sex orgies and experiencing drug addiction in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. He also participated in Charles White’s 1984 non-fiction tell-all book “The Life and Times of Little Richard,” which had a lot of details of Little Richard’s decadent lifestyle. The only viewers of this documentary who might be surprised by all this information are people who don’t know much about Little Richard.

As hedonistic as he admittedly was, there were periods of time in his life in the 1950s and the 1970s, when he denounced his “sinful” lifestyle and became a religious fanatic who gave up rock music to perform gospel music. In the late 1950s, he attended Oakwood University, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Huntsville, Alabama. These born-again Christian phases in his life often included Little Richard claiming that he was drug-free and no longer condoning of non-heterosexuality. This self-shame about his sexuality seemed to come and go in Little Richard’s life, which made him someone who was unpredictable and difficult for many people to figure out.

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” includes interviews with Lee Angel, who famously told the world decades ago that Little Richard seduced her in 1955, when she was 16 years old, and he asked her to marry him, but she said no. In the documentary, Angel says she’s not convinced that Little Richard was ever 100% gay. “He slept with me, and I’m all woman,” she declares proudly, although she admits she was initially surprised that he was sexually attracted to her because she thought he was more sexually interested in men. (Angel passed away in 2022.) The documentary does not have interviews with any of Little Richard’s male ex-lovers.

During one of his born-again Christian phases, Little Richard married Ernestine Harvin, (also known as Ernestine Campbell) in 1959. They divorced in 1964. Harvin is interviewed in the documentary (audio only, not on camera) and says of her marriage to Little Richard: “Richard was the kind of husband most women would want: always positive, loving and caring.” Was Little Richard sexually confused? As scholar Jason King sees it: “He was very good at liberating other people through example. He was not good at liberating himself.”

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” also includes some mention of Little Richard’s battles and complaints about being cheated out of royalties, due to signing recording contracts and publishing deals where he received little to no money. Music attorney John Branca says that a lot of these legal issues had to do with Little Richard breaching his contracts during the periods of time when he refused to perform rock music and only wanted to do gospel. However, it’s a common story that many famous music artists, regardless of their race, regret signing deals that they later said were ripoffs where the artists didn’t get paid and sometimes ended up owing money.

Regardless of how much money or how little money Little Richard made from record sales or songwriting royalties, he still managed to be a popular live act and would tour regularly until the later stages in his life. Little Richard also dabbled in acting, usually making guest appearances and cameos in movies and TV shows. His more memorable film roles were in the 1986 comedy “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and the 1993 action film “Last Action Hero.” The documentary does not mention the 2000 NBC TV-movie biopic “Little Richard,” starring Leon, who is not interviewed in the documentary.

One of the ways that “Little Richard: I Am Everything” tries to be different from the usual music documentary is by having artists who aren’t very famous do performances of songs that helped influence or define Little Richard. Valerie June performs Tharpe’s “Strange Things Are Happening Every Day” in the segment that talks about Tharpe. Cory henry recreates Little Richard’s performance of “Tutti Frutti” at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans. John P. Kee performs “Standing in the Need” during the segment talking about one of Little Richard’s gospel music phases.

During these performances and in some footage of Little Richard, the documentary has visual effects of glowing dust that floats through the air, as if it’s some kind of magical aura from Little Richard that’s being passed though the ether. It’s not as cringeworthy as sparkling vampires in the “Twilight” movies, but it looks very over-the-top and quite unnecessary. Little Richard did not lead a fairytale life. There’s no need to conjure up images that he spread some kind of mystical dust, as if he’s a character some kind of Disney animated movie. The fascinating stories told about Little Richard by himself and other people are more than enough to be intriguing.

Other people interviewed in the documentary include his cousins Newt Collier and Stanley Stewart; Little Richard’s former manager Ramon Hervey; filmmaker John Waters; ethnomusicologist Gredara Hadley; entertainment agent Libby Anthony; singer Nona Hendryx; historian Tavia Nyong’o; former Oakwood University classmate Dewitt Williams; former Little Richard road manager Keith Winslow, whose other was a teacher at Oakwood University; bass player Charles Glenn, who was in Little Richard’s band; booking agent Morris Roberts; and producer/songwriter Nile Rodgers, who says that David Bowie wanted Bowie’s 1983’s smash hit “Let’s Dance” album (which Rodgers produced) to be heavily influenced by Little Richard. The documentary could have used more interviews with female musicians other than Hendryx, but it’s an overall diverse mix of people.

“Little Richard: I Am Everything” keeps the storytelling lively, thanks to some great editing by Nyneve Laura Minnear and Jake Hostetter. There’s a particularly powerful montage near the end of the film that juxtaposes archival footage of Little Richard and all the artists who have been directly or indirectly influenced by him over the years, including Elton John, Bowie, Jagger, Prince, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, former “Pose” star Porter and Harry Styles. “Little Richard: I Am Everything” is a perfect title for this movie, because it shows how Little Richard was at times (often to a fault) all things to many people. However conflicted he might have been in his personal life and career, this documentary eloquently demonstrates how Little Richard represents the glory and pain of expressing yourself freely, no matter what the consequences.

Magnolia Films will release “Little Richard: I Am Everything” in select U.S. cinemas on a date to be announced. CNN and HBO Max will premiere the movie on dates to be announced.

2023 NAACP Image Awards: ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ is the top nominee

January 12, 2023

Letitia Wright in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

The following is a press release from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP):

NAACP unveiled the full list of 54th NAACP Image Awards nominees with ABC and Netflix leading the pack with 28 and 15 nominations respectively. The winners will be revealed during the two-hour LIVE TV special, airing Saturday, February 25, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET on BET and 8:00 PM PT on delay. The show will be in front of an audience for the first time in three years.

Netflix and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever lead nominations across the motion picture categories with 15 and 12 nominations respectively. ABC and Abbott Elementary received the most nominations in the television + streaming categories with 28 and nine nominations respectively. Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are tied for the most nominations in the music recording categories (5 respectively). RCA Records / RCA Inspiration received the most nominations across record labels (11). Penguin Random House and Harper Collins lead nominations across literary categories (9).

“This year’s nominees have conveyed a wide range of authentic stories and diverse experiences that have resonated with many in our community, and we’re proud to recognize their outstanding achievements and performances,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.

“We take pride in recognizing the trailblazing achievements and artistry of this year’s esteemed nominees and celebrating the powerful legacy of the NAACP,” said Connie Orlando, EVP of Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy, BET. “We look forward to bringing the Image Awards back to Pasadena in front of a live audience and delivering unforgettable moments that epitomize the brilliance of the Black community.”

The public can vote to determine the winners of the “54th NAACP Image Awards” by visiting www.naacpimageawards.net. Voting closes on February 10, 2023. Winners will be revealed during the “54th NAACP Image Awards” telecast on February 25, 2023, on BET. NAACP will also recognize winners in non-televised Image Awards categories February 20-24, which will stream on www.naacpimageawards.net. For all information and the latest news, please follow NAACP Image Awards on Instagram @NAACPImageAwards.

Globally recognized as one of the most distinguished multicultural awards shows, the “54th NAACP Image Awards” will continue a tradition of excellence, uplifting values that inspire equality, justice, and progressive change, and highlighting artists committed to that purpose.

One of the most iconic annual celebrations of Black excellence, the NAACP Image Awards draws the biggest and brightest stars in Hollywood. Previous years’ attendees and winners include Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Wizkid, Lizzo, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Michael B. Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, Jamie Foxx, Chloe x Halle, Regé-Jean Page, Daniel Kaluuya, Michaela Coel, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Blair Underwood, Will Smith, Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin, Viola Davis, Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Anthony Anderson, Sterling K. Brown, Loni Love, Sheryl Underwood, Halle Berry, Common, Dwayne Johnson, Audra Day, John Legend, Lena Waithe, Tracee Ellis Ross, David Oyelowo, Laverne Cox, Octavia Spencer, Issa Rae, Trevor Noah, Yara Shahidi, Danai Gurira, Jacob Latimore, Jill Scott, H.E.R., Jay Pharoah, Jemele Hill, Loretta Devine, Sylvester Stallone, Meta Golding, Michael Smith, Tyler James Williams, Ava DuVernay, the late Chadwick Boseman, and many more.

Instagram:  @naacpimageawards
Twitter: @naacpimageaward
Facebook: /naacpimageaward

The full list of nominees can be found below:

ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

  • Angela Bassett
  • Mary J. Blige
  • Quinta Brunson
  • Viola Davis
  • Zendaya

MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES

Outstanding Motion Picture

  • A Jazzman’s Blues (Netflix)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Emancipation (Apple TV)
  • The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)

Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Daniel Kaluuya – Nope (Universal Pictures)
  • Jonathan Majors – Devotion (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
  • Joshua Boone – A Jazzman’s Blues (Netflix)
  • Sterling K. Brown – Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (Focus Features)
  • Will Smith – Emancipation (Apple)

Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Danielle Deadwyler – Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)
  • Keke Palmer – Alice (Vertical Entertainment)
  • Letitia Wright – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Regina Hall – Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (Focus Features)
  • Viola Davis – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

  • Aldis Hodge – Black Adam (Warner Bros. Pictures / New Line Cinema)
  • Cliff “Method Man” Smith – On the Come Up (Paramount Pictures)
  • Jalyn Hall – Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)
  • John Boyega – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Tenoch Huerta – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

  • Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Danai Gurira – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Janelle Monáe – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)
  • Lashana Lynch – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Lupita Nyong’o – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)

Outstanding Independent Motion Picture

  • Breaking (Bleecker Street)
  • Causeway (Apple TV)
  • Mr. Malcolm’s List (Bleecker Street)
  • Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Hulu)
  • The Inspection (A24)

Outstanding International Motion Picture

  • Athena (Netflix)
  • Bantú Mama (ARRAY)
  • Broker (NEON)
  • Learn to Swim (ARRAY)
  • The Silent Twins (Focus Features)

Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture

  • Jalyn Hall – Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)
  • Joshua Boone – A Jazzman’s Blues (Netflix)
  • Ledisi – Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Hulu)
  • Y’lan Noel – A Lot of Nothing (RLJE)
  • Yola – Elvis (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture

  • A Jazzman’s Blues (Netflix)
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Emancipation (Apple TV)
  • The Woman King (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
  • Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)

Outstanding Animated Motion Picture

  • DC League of Super-Pets (Warner Bros. Pictures / WAG / DC)
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal Pictures)
  • Turning Red (Pixar Animation Studios)
  • Wendell & Wild (Netflix)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance – Motion Picture

  • Angela Bassett – Wendell & Wild (Netflix)
  • Keke Palmer – Lightyear (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Kevin Hart – DC League of Super-Pets (Warner Bros. Pictures / WAG / DC)
  • Lyric Ross – Wendell & Wild (Netflix)
  • Taraji P. Henson – Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal Pictures)

Outstanding Short-Form (Live Action)

  • Dear Mama… (Film Independent)
  • Fannie (Chromatic Black)
  • Fathead (University of Southern California)
  • Incomplete (20th Century Digital, Hulu)
  • Pens & Pencils (Wavelength Productions/Black TV & Film Collective)

Outstanding Short-Form (Animated)

  • I Knew Superman (Houghtonville Animation)
  • More Than I Want To Remember (MTV Entertainment Studios)
  • Supercilious (York Cinemas)
  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (Apple Studios)
  • We Are Here (271 Films)

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)

  • Elvis Mitchell – Is That Black Enough For You?!? (Netflix)
  • Ericka Nicole Malone – Remember Me: The Mahalia Jackson Story (Hulu)
  • Krystin Ver Linden – Alice (Vertical Entertainment)
  • Mo McRae – A Lot of Nothing (RLJE)
  • Stephen Adetumbi, Jarrett Roseborough – This Is My Black (Campus of Pine Forge Academy)

TELEVISION + STREAMING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Atlanta (FX)
  • black-ish (ABC)
  • Rap Sh!t (HBO Max)
  • The Wonder Years (ABC)

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Anthony Anderson – black-ish (ABC)
  • Cedric The Entertainer – The Neighborhood (CBS)
  • Donald Glover – Atlanta (FX)
  • Dulé Hill – The Wonder Years (ABC)
  • Mike Epps – The Upshaws (Netflix)

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Loretta Devine – Family Reunion (Netflix)
  • Maya Rudolph – Loot (Apple TV+)
  • Quinta Brunson – Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Tichina Arnold – The Neighborhood (CBS)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross – black-ish (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Brian Tyree Henry – Atlanta (FX)
  • Deon Cole – black-ish (ABC)
  • Kenan Thompson – Saturday Night Live (NBC)
  • Tyler James Williams – Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • William Stanford Davis – Abbott Elementary (ABC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Janelle James – Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Jenifer Lewis – black-ish (ABC)
  • Marsai Martin – black-ish (ABC)
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph – Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Wanda Sykes – The Upshaws (Netflix)

Outstanding Drama Series

  • Bel-Air (Peacock)
  • Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • Euphoria (HBO Max)
  • P-Valley (Starz)
  • Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series

  • Damson Idris – Snowfall (FX)
  • Jabari Banks – Bel-Air (Peacock)
  • Kofi Siriboe – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Nicco Annan – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)

Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series

  • Angela Bassett – 9-1-1 (FOX)
  • Brandee Evans – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Queen Latifah – The Equalizer (CBS)
  • Rutina Wesley – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Zendaya – Euphoria (HBO Max)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

  • Adrian Holmes – Bel-Air (Peacock)
  • Amin Joseph – Snowfall (FX)
  • Caleb McLaughlin – Stranger Things (Netflix)
  • Cliff “Method Man” Smith – Power Book II: Ghost (Starz)
  • J. Alphonse Nicholson – P-Valley (Starz)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

  • Adjoa Andoh – Bridgerton (Netflix)
  • Bianca Lawson – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Loretta Devine – P-Valley (Starz)
  • Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us (NBC)
  • Tina Lifford – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Outstanding Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

  • Carl Weber’s The Black Hamptons (BET Networks)
  • From Scratch (Netflix)
  • The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+)
  • Women of the Movement (ABC)

Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

  • Morris Chestnut – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Samuel L. Jackson  – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+)
  • Terrence Howard – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Trevante Rhodes – Mike (Hulu)
  • Wendell Pierce – Don’t Hang Up (Bounce TV)

Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

  • Niecy Nash-Betts – Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (Netflix)
  • Regina Hall – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Sanaa Lathan – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Viola Davis – The First Lady (Showtime)
  • Zoe Saldaña – From Scratch (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

  • Glynn Turman – Women of the Movement (ABC)
  • Keith David – From Scratch (Netflix)
  • Omar Benson Miller – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple TV+)
  • Russell Hornsby – Mike (Hulu)
  • Terrence “TC” Carson – A Wesley Christmas (AMC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Movie, Limited-Series or Dramatic Special

  • Alexis Floyd – Inventing Anna (Netflix)
  • Danielle Deadwyler – From Scratch (Netflix)
  • Melissa De Sousa – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Nia Long – The Best Man: The Final Chapters (Peacock)
  • Phylicia Rashad – Little America (Apple TV+)

Outstanding News/Information (Series or Special)

  • #RolandMartinUnfiltered: Black Votes Matter Election Night 2022 Coverage (Black Star Network/YouTube)
  • ABC News 20/20 Michelle Obama: The Light We Carry, A Conversation with Robin Roberts (ABC)
  • Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (PBS)
  • OWN Spotlight: Viola Davis – The Woman King (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • The Hair Tales (Hulu)

Outstanding Talk Series

  • Hart to Heart (Peacock)
  • Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
  • Sherri (Syndicated)
  • Tamron Hall (ABC)
  • Uninterrupted: The Shop (YouTube)

Outstanding Reality Program, Reality Competition or Game Show (Series)

  • Legendary (HBO Max)
  • Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (Amazon Studios)
  • Shark Tank (ABC)
  • Sweet Life: Los Angeles (HBO Max)
  • The Real Housewives of Atlanta (Bravo)

Outstanding Variety Show (Series or Special)

  • A Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO Max)
  • BET Awards 2022 (BET Networks)
  • Deon Cole: Charleen’s Boy (Netflix)
  • Martin: The Reunion (BET Networks)
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Children’s Program

  • Family Reunion (Netflix)
  • Raising Dion (Netflix)
  • Raven’s Home (Disney+)
  • Tab Time (YouTube Originals)
  • Waffles + Mochi’s Restaurant (Netflix)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth (Series, Special, Television Movie or Limited-Series)

  • Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High – That Girl Lay Lay (Nickelodeon)
  • Cameron J. Wright – Family Reunion (Netflix)
  • Elisha Williams – The Wonder Years (ABC)
  • Khali Spraggins – The Upshaws (Netflix)
  • Ja’Siah Young – Raising Dion (Netflix)

Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

  • Jada Pinkett-Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Willow Smith – Red Table Talk (Facebook Watch)
  • Jennifer Hudson – The Jennifer Hudson Show (Syndicated)
  • Kevin Hart – Hart to Heart (Peacock)
  • Lester Holt – NBC Nightly News (NBC)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross – The Hair Tales (Hulu)

Outstanding Host in a Reality/Reality Competition, Game Show or Variety (Series or Special) – Individual or Ensemble

  • Keke Palmer – Password (NBC)
  • Lizzo – Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (Amazon Studios)
  • Tabitha Brown – Tab Time (YouTube Originals)
  • Taraji P. Henson – BET Awards 2022 (BET Networks)
  • Trevor Noah – The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Guest Performance

  • Amanda Gorman – Sesame Street (HBO Max)
  • Chance the Rapper – South Side (HBO Max)
  • Colman Domingo – Euphoria (HBO Max)
  • Glynn Turman – Queen Sugar (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Gabourey Sidibe – American Horror Stories (FX)

Outstanding Animated Series

  • Central Park (Apple TV+)
  • Eureka! (Disney Junior)
  • Gracie’s Corner (YouTube)
  • The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (Disney+)
  • Zootopia+ (Disney+)

Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance (Television)

  • Billy Porter – The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (Disney+)
  • Cedric the Entertainer – The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (Disney+)
  • Chris Bridges – Karma’s World (Netflix)
  • Cree Summer – Rugrats (Nickelodeon)
  • Kyla Pratt – The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (Disney+)

Outstanding Short Form Series – Comedy or Drama

  • Between The Scenes – The Daily Show (Comedy Central)
  • Oh Hell No! With Marlon Wayans (Facebook Watch)
  • Rise Up, Sing Out (Disney+)
  • Sunday Dinner (YouTube)
  • Zootopia+ (Disney+)

Outstanding Short Form Series or Special – Reality/Nonfiction

  • Black Independent Films: A Brief History (Turner Classic Movies)
  • Daring Simone Biles (Snap)
  • Historian’s Take (PBS)
  • NFL 360 (NFL Network)
  • Omitted: The Black Cowboy (ESPN)

Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Television)

  • Amy Wang – From Scratch (Netflix)
  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – Kindred (FX)
  • Hannah Cope – Karma’s World (Netflix)
  • Quinta Brunson – Abbott Elementary (ABC)
  • Syreeta Singleton – Rap Sh!t (HBO Max)

RECORDING CATEGORIES

Outstanding New Artist

  • Adam Blackstone – Legacy (BASSic Black Entertainment Records/Anderson Music Group/Empire)
  • Armani White – Billie Eilish (Def Jam Recordings)
  • Coco Jones – ICU (Def Jam Recordings)
  • Fivio Foreign – B.I.B.L.E (Columbia Records)
  • Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights (RCA Records)

Outstanding Male Artist

  • Brent Faiyaz – Wasteland (Lost Kids)
  • Burna Boy – Love, Damini (Atlantic Records)
  • Chris Brown – Breezy (Deluxe) (RCA Records/Chris Brown Entertainment)
  • Drake – Honestly, Nevermind (OVO/Republic Records)
  • Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)

Outstanding Female Artist

  • Ari Lennox – age/sex/location (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
  • Beyoncé – Renaissance (Columbia Records/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Chlöe – Surprise (Columbia Records/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Jazmine Sullivan – Hurt Me So Good (RCA Records)
  • SZA – S.O.S. (RCA Records/Top Dawg Entertainment)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album

  • All Things New – Tye Tribbett (Motown Gospel)
  • Hymns – Tasha Cobbs Leonard (Motown Gospel)
  • Kingdom Book One – Maverick City Music & Kirk Franklin (Tribl Records, Fo Yo Soul Recordings and RCA Inspiration)
  • My Life – James Fortune (FIYA World/MNRK Music Group)
  • The Urban Hymnal – Tennessee State University (TSU/Tymple)

Outstanding International Song

  • Bad To Me – Wizkid (RCA Records/Starboy/Sony Music International)
  • Diana feat. Shenseea – Fireboy DML, Chris Brown (YBNL Nation / EMPIRE)
  • Last Last – Burna Boy (Atlantic Records)
  • No Woman No Cry – Tems (Def Jam Recordings)
  • Stand Strong – Davido feat. Sunday Service Choir (RCA Records/Sony Music UK)

Outstanding Music Video/Visual Album

  • About Damn Time – Lizzo (Atlantic Records)
  • Be Alive – Beyoncé (Columbia Records/ Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Lift Me Up – Rihanna (Def Jam Recordings)
  • LORD FORGIVE ME feat. FAT, Pharrell and OLU of EARTHGANG – TOBE NWIGWE (THE GOOD STEWARDS COLLECTIVE)
  • The Heart Part 5 – Kendrick Lamar (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)

Outstanding Album

  • age/sex/location – Ari Lennox (Dreamville/Interscope Records)
  • Breezy (Deluxe) – Chris Brown (RCA Records/Chris Brown Entertainment)
  • Morale & the Big Steppers – Kendrick Lamar (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)
  • Renaissance – Beyoncé (Parkwood/Columbia Records)
  • Watch the Sun – PJ Morton (Morton Records)

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album

  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – Music From and Inspired By – Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson, Archie Davis and Dave Jordan (Hollywood Records)
  • Bridgerton Season Two (Soundtrack from the Netflix Series) – Kris Bowers (Capitol Records)
  • Entergalactic – Kid Cudi (Republic Records)
  • P-Valley: Season 2 (Music From the Original TV Series) – Various Artists (Lions Gate Records)
  • The Woman King – Terence Blanchard (Milan Records)

Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song

  • All in Your Hands – Marvin Sapp (Elev8 Media & Entertainment LLC)
  • Fly (Y.M.M.F.) – Tennessee State University (TSU/Tymple)
  • Positive – Erica Campbell (My Block Inc.)
  • Whole World In His Hands – MAJOR. (MNRK Music Group)
  • Your World – Jonathan McReynolds (MNRK Music Group)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Instrumental

  • Detour – Boney James (Concord Records)
  • Henry Franklin: Jazz Is Dead 014  – Henry Franklin, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Adrian Younge
  • The Funk Will Prevail – Kaelin Ellis (NCH Music)
  • The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni – Javon Jackson (Solid Jackson Records)
  • Thrill Ride – Ragan Whiteside (Randis Music)

Outstanding Jazz Album – Vocal

  • Legacy – Adam Blackstone (BASSic Black Entertainment Records / Anderson Music Group / Empire)
  • Linger Awhile – Samara Joy (Verve Records)
  • Love and the Catalyst – Aimée Allen (Azuline)
  • New Standards Vol. 1 – Terri Lyne Carrington (Candid Records)
  • The Evening : Live at Apparatus – The Baylor Project (Be A Light)

Outstanding Soul/R&B Song

  • About Damn Time – Lizzo (Atlantic Records)
  • Cuff It – Beyoncé (Columbia Record/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Good Morning Gorgeous Remix feat. H.E.R. – Mary J. Blige (300)
  • Hurt Me So Good – Jazmine Sullivan (RCA Records)
  • Lift Me Up – Rihanna (Def Jam Recordings)

Outstanding Hip Hop/Rap Song

  • Billie Eilish – Armani White (Def Jam Recordings)
  • City of Gods – Fivio Foreign (Columbia Records)
  • Hotel Lobby – Quavo, Takeoff (Motown Records/Quality Control Music)
  • The Heart Part 5 – Kendrick Lamar (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)
  • Wait for U – Future feat. Drake and Tems (Epic Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Traditional)

  • Kendrick Lamar feat. Blxst & Amanda Reifer – Die Hard (pgLang/Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath/Interscope Records)
  • Mary J. Blige feat. H.E.R. – Good Morning Gorgeous Remix (300)
  • PJ Morton feat. Alex Isley and Jill Scott – Still Believe (Morton Records)
  • Silk Sonic – Love’s Train (Atlantic Records)
  • Summer Walker, Cardi B, and SZA – No Love (LVRN/Interscope Records)

Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration (Contemporary)

  • Beyoncé feat. Grace Jones and Tems – MOVE (Columbia Records/Parkwood Entertainment)
  • Chris Brown feat. Wizkid – Call Me Every Day (RCA Records/Chris Brown Entertainment)
  • City Girls feat. Usher – Good Love (Motown Records/Quality Control Music)
  • Future feat. Drake and Tems – Wait For U (Epic Records)
  • Latto feat. Mariah Carey and DJ Khaled – Big Energy (Remix) (RCA Records)

DOCUMENTARY CATEGORIES

Outstanding Documentary (Film)

  • Civil (Netflix)
  • Descendant (Netflix)
  • Is That Black Enough For You?!? (Netflix)
  • Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (Apple TV+)
  • Sidney (Apple TV+)

Outstanding Documentary (Television)

  • Black Love (OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network)
  • Everything’s Gonna be All White (Showtime)
  • Frontline (PBS)
  • Race: Bubba Wallace (Netflix)
  • Shaq (HBO Max)

WRITING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series

  • Aisha Muharrar – Hacks – “Episode 206” (HBO Max)
  • Ayo Edebiri, Shana Gohd – What We do in the Shadows – “Episode 405” (FX)
  • Brittani Nichols – Abbott Elementary – “Student Transfer” (ABC)
  • Karen Joseph Adcock – The Bear – “Episode 105” (FX)
  • Quinta Brunson – Abbott Elementary – “Development Day” (ABC)

Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series

  • Aurin Squire – The Good Fight – “Episode 603” (Paramount+)
  • Branden Jacobs-Jenkins – Kindred – “Episode 101” (FX)
  • Davita Scarlett – The Good Fight – “Episode 604” (Paramount+)
  • Joshua Allen – From Scratch – “Episode 105” (Netflix)
  • Marissa Jo Cerar – Women of the Movement – “Episode 101” (ABC)

Outstanding Writing in a Television Movie or Special

  • Bree West – A Wesley Christmas (BET Networks)
  • Ian Edelman, Maurice Williams – Entergalactic (Netflix)
  • Jerrod Carmichael – Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel (HBO Max)
  • Lil Rel Howery – Lil Rel Howery: I Said it. Y’all Thinking it (HBO Max)
  • Matt Lopez – Father of the Bride (HBO Max)

Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture

  • Charles Murray – The Devil You Know (Lionsgate)
  • Dana Stevens, Maria Bello – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Jordan Peele – Nope (Universal Pictures)
  • Krystin Ver Linden – Alice (Vertical Entertainment)
  • Ryan Coogler – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)

DIRECTING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series

  • Angela Barnes – Atlanta – “The Homeliest Little Horse” (FX)
  • Bridget Stokes – A Black Lady Sketch Show – “Save My Edges, I’m a Donor!” (HBO Max)
  • Dee Rees – Upload – “Hamoodi” (Amazon Studios)
  • Iona Morris Jackson – black-ish – “If A Black Man Cries in the Woods” (ABC)
  • Pete Chatmon – The Flight Attendant – “Drowning Women” (HBO Max)

Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series

  • Debbie Allen – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey – “Robyn” (Apple TV+)
  • Giancarlo Esposito – Better Call Saul – “Axe and Grind” (AMC)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood – Women of the Movement – “Mother and Son” (ABC)
  • Hanelle Culpepper – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey – “Sensia” (Apple TV+)
  • Kasi Lemmons – Women of the Movement – “Episode 106” (ABC)

Outstanding Directing in a Television Movie or Special

  • Anton Cropper – Fantasy Football (Paramount+)
  • Marta Cunningham – 61st Street (AMC)
  • Sujata Day – Definition Please (Netflix)
  • Tailiah Breon – Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas (Lifetime)
  • Tine Fields – Soul of a Nation: Screen Queens Rising (ABC)

Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture

  • Antoine Fuqua – Emancipation (Apple)
  • Chinonye Chukwu – Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Kasi Lemmons – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Ryan Coogler – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)

Outstanding Directing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture)

  • Nadia Hallgren – Civil (Netflix)
  • Reginald Hudlin – Sidney (Apple TV+)
  • Sacha Jenkins – Everything’s Gonna Be All White (Showtime)
  • Sacha Jenkins – Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues (Apple TV+)
  • Kamau Bell – We Need to Talk About Cosby (Showtime)

LITERARY CATEGORIES

Outstanding Literary Work – Fiction

  • Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction – Sheree Renée Thomas (Macmillan)
  • Light Skin Gone to Waste – Toni Ann Johnson (University of Georgia Press)
  • Take My Hand – Dolen Perkins-Valdez (Penguin Random House)
  • The Keeper – Tananarive Due, Steven Barnes (Abrams Books)
  • You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty – Akwaeke Emezi (Simon & Schuster)

Outstanding Literary Work – Nonfiction

  • Finding Me – Viola Davis (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America – Cody Keenan (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Requiem for the Massacre – RJ Young (Counterpoint)
  • Under the Skin – Linda Villarosa (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)
  • Who’s Black and Why? A Hidden Chapter from the Eighteenth-Century Invention of Race – Henry Louis Gates, Andrew S. Curran (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press)

Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

  • America Made Me a Black Man – Boyah Farah (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen – George McCalman (HarperCollins)
  • Marriage Be Hard – Kevin Fredericks, Melissa Fredericks (Penguin Random House)
  • Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation – Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson, Michelle Higgins (Penguin Random House Convergent Imprint)
  • What the Fireflies Knew – Kai Harris (Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Biography/Autobiography

  • A Way Out of No Way: A Memoir of Truth, Transformation, and the New American Story – Raphael G. Warnock (Penguin Random House)
  • Scenes from My Life – Michael K. Williams (Penguin Random House)
  • The Light We Carry – Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House)
  • Walking In My Joy: In These Streets – Jenifer Lewis (HarperCollins Publishers)
  • You’ve Been Chosen – Cynt Marshall (Ballantine Books)

Outstanding Literary Work – Instructional

  • Black Joy: Stories of Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration – Tracey Lewis-Giggetts (Gallery/Simon and Schuster)
  • Cooking from the Spirit – Tabitha Brown (William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Eat Plants, B*tch: 91 Vegan Recipes That Will Blow Your Meat-Loving Mind – Pinky Cole (Simon & Schuster)
  • Homecoming: Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole Authentic Self – Thema Bryant (Penguin Random House/TarcherPerigee)
  • The Five Principles: A Revolutionary Path to Health, Inner Wealth, and Knowledge of Self –  Khnum Ibomu (Hachette Book Group)

Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry

  • Best Barbarian – Roger Reeves (Norton)
  • Bluest Nude – Ama Codjoe (Milkweed Editions)
  • Concentrate – Courtney Faye Taylor (Graywolf Press)
  • Muse Found in a Colonized Body – Yesenia Montilla (Four Way Books)
  • To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness – Robin Coste Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf)

Outstanding Literary Work – Children

  • Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas – Jeanne Walker Harvey, Loveis Wise (HarperCollins)
  • Black Gold – Laura Obuobi, London Ladd (HarperCollins)
  • Blue: A History of the Color as Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky – Nana Brew-Hammond, Daniel Minter (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Stacey’s Remarkable Books – Stacey Abrams, Kitt Thomas (HarperCollins – Balzer + Bray)
  • The Year We Learned to Fly – Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael Lopez (Penguin Random House)

Outstanding Literary Work – Youth/Teens

  • Cookies & Milk – Shawn Amos (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Inheritance: A Visual Poem – Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperCollins – Quill Tree Books)
  • Maybe An Artist, A Graphic Memoir – Liz Montague (Random House Studio)
  • Me and White Supremacy: Young Readers’ Edition – Layla F. Saad (Sourcebooks)
  • Opening My Eyes Underwater: Essays on Hope, Humanity, and Our Hero Michelle Obama – Ashley Woodfolk (Feiwel & Friends, Macmillan)

PODCAST CATEGORIES

Outstanding News and Information Podcast

  • #SundayCivics (LJW Community Strategies)
  • Beyond the Scenes – The Daily Show (Central Productions, LLC)
  • Black Tech Green Money (The Black Effect Podcast Network)
  • Holding Court with Eboni K. Williams (Interval Presents & Uppity Productions)
  • Into America with Trymaine Lee (MSNBC)

Outstanding Lifestyle/Self-Help Podcast

  • Chile, Please (Honey Chile)
  • GoOD Mornings with CurlyNikki (Walton Media, LLC)
  • Man to Man: A Black Love Wellness Series (Black Love Inc.)
  • Maejor Frequency (Audible)
  • Therapy for Black Girls (Therapy for Black Girls)

Outstanding Society and Culture Podcast

  • Comeback with Erica Cobb (Erica Cobb LLC/One Street Studios)
  • Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay (Spotify & The Ringer)
  • Into America with Trymaine Lee (MSNBC)
  • LeVar Burton Reads (SiriusXM’s Stitcher Studios)
  • The Sum of Us (Higher Ground)

Outstanding Arts and Entertainment Podcast

  • Angie Martinez IRL (Media Noche Productions)
  • Black Girl Songbook (Spotify & The Ringer)
  • Jemele Hill is Unbothered (Unbothered Inc, Spotify, Lodge Freeway Media, Exit 39)
  • The Read (Loud Speakers Network)
  • Two Funny Mamas (Mocha Podcasts Network)

COSTUME DESIGN, MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING CATEGORIES

Outstanding Costume Design (Television or Film)

  • Francine Jamison-Tanchuck – Emancipation (Apple Studios)
  • Gersha Phillips, Carly Nicodemo, Heather Constable, Christina Cattle, Sheryl Willock, Becky MacKinnon – Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)
  • Gersha Phillips, Carly Nicodemo, Lieze Van Tonder, Lynn Paulsen, Tova Harrison – The Woman King (Tristar Pictures)
  • Ruth E. Carter – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Trayce Gigi Field – A League of Their Own (Prime Video)

Outstanding Make-up (Television or Film)

  • Angie Wells – Cheaper by the Dozen (Disney+)
  • Debi Young, Sandra Linn, Ngozi Olandu Young, Gina Bateman – We Own This City (HBO Max)
  • Michele Lewis – The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey (Apple Studios)
  • Ren Rohling, Teresa Vest, Megan Areford – Emergency (Amazon Studios)
  • Zabrina Matiru – Surface (Apple Studios)

Outstanding Hairstyling (Television or Film)

  • Camille Friend – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel Studios)
  • Curtis Foreman, Ryan Randall – RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars (Paramount+)
  • Louisa V. Anthony, Deaundra Metzger, Maurice Beaman – Till (United Artists Releasing/Orion Pictures)
  • Mary Daniels, Kalin Spooner, Darrin Lyons, Eric Gonzalez – All American (The CW)
  • Tracey Moss, Jerome Allen, Tamika Dixon, Lawrence “Jigga” Simmons, Jason Simmons – Fantasy Football (Paramount+)

OUTSTANDING SOCIAL MEDIA PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR NOMINEES

  • @Theconsciousless- George Lee
  • @thechristishow – Christianee Porter
  • @earnyourleisure – Troy Millings & Rashad Bilal
  • @KevOnStage – Kevin Fredericks
  • @lynaevanee – Lynae Vanee

 —

About NAACP:

Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.

In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization, and shares our commitment to equal rights.

About BET:

BET, a unit of Paramount (NASDAQ: PARAA; PARA; PARAP), 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 125 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa, and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions, including BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience; 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, a growing BET festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.

Review: ‘Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,’ starring Dionne Warwick

December 31, 2022

by Carla Hay

Dionne Warwick in “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” (Photo courtesy of CNN Films)

“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”

Directed by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner

Culture Representation: In the documentary film “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” a group of African American and white people (and a few Latinos), who are celebrities, historians or philanthropists, discuss the life and career of entertainer Dionne Warwick.

Culture Clash: In her long career, Dionne Warwick battled against racism, misogynistic rap music and prejudice against people with HIV/AIDS. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Dionne Warwick fans, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in biographies of entertainers who first made their mark in the 1960s.

Dionne Warwick in “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” (Photo courtesy of CNN Films)

“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” is both a retrospective and an uplifting story about one of America’s most treasured entertainers/activists who is both celebrated and sometimes underrated for her breakthroughs. This documentary doesn’t uncover new information, but it’s a thoroughly engaging and comprehensive look at the life and career of the talented, sassy and outspoken Dionne Warwick. It would be a mistake to think that this movie won’t have much appeal to young people, because “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” has meaningful themes and life lessons that can relatable to people of any generation.

Directed by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner, “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” had its world premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Warwick also participated in the making of the 2018 PBS documentary “Dionne Warwick: Then Came You,” which focuses mainly on Warwick’s music, whereas “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” includes not just her music career but it also takes a much deeper dive into her personal life and her activism. Warwick’s 2010 memoir “My Life, as I See It” also covers a lot of the same topics as these documentaries. In other words, there’s no shortage of Warwick’s first-hand accounts of her life story.

Fortunately, Warwick is a great raconteur with amusing wit and candid self-awareness. There could be dozens of documentaries about her, and she’s the type of person who will give something unique and different every time in her documentary interviews. “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” which unfolds in chronological order, has the expected telling of her experiences with fame and the challenges she’s encountered when people pressured her to be something that she wasn’t but she stayed true to herself.

Born in 1940, in East Orange, New Jersey, she describes her childhood in East Orange and nearby Newark as being in a family that was “middle-class and working.” Her father had various jobs, including being a Pullman porter, a music promoter and an accountant. Her mother was an electrical factory worker who also managed a gospel singing group called the Drinkard Sisters, which consisted of relatives on her mother’s side of the family. Warwick’s maternal aunt Cissy Houston (mother of Whitney Houston) was a member of the Drinkard Sisters. Cissy Houston is one of the people interviewed in the documentary.

With all this music talent in one family, it was inevitable that Warwick would pursue a music career too. She says her first performance was at the age of 6, when she sang “Jesus Loves Me” in church. Warwick also says that it was also the first time she got a standing ovation. “Gospel will never be far from what I do,” Warwick comments.

Warwick grew up during an era when much of the U.S. had legal racial segregation, but she says in the documentary that East Orange was a very integrated city. “It was like the United Nations,” she quips. It might be why she didn’t want to be confined to doing music that was labeled as being for any particular race. During the early years of her career, racial segregation also extended to the music industry, which marketed pop music as “music for white people” and R&B music as “music for black people.” Radio station playlists also followed these narrow-minded race divisions.

It didn’t take long for people to notice her talent. In 1957, she performed with the Imperials during Amateur Night at the famed Apollo Theatre in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. They won that contest. “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” includes archival footage of that fateful performance.

She then became a backup singer, with credits that include the Drifters’ 1962 songs “When My Little Girl Is Singing” and “Mexican Divorce,” as well as Jerry Butler’s 1961 hit “Make It Easy on Yourself.” She stood out as a backup singer and was eventually signed to a record deal with Scepter Records as a solo singer. Warwick comments, “Thank God for my daddy, who negotiated my contract.” Warwick’s debut album, “Presenting Dionne Warwick,” was released in 1963.

The documentary repeats a fairly well-known story about how Warwick told the music producers of “Make It Easy on Yourself” that she didn’t like the results. That experience later became the inspiration for her 1962 song “Don’t Make Me Over,” which is a statement of Warwick’s refusal to be anybody but herself. It was an issue that would come up many times when people questioned her choices in songs, performing style or even her hairstyles and clothing.

For example, Warwick says in the documentary that when she was on tour with Sam Cooke, she ignored his advice to never turn her back to a white audience when she was singing. At shows where white people and black people would attend but would be racially segregated inside the venue, Warwick says she made a point of turning to sing to the black people, which meant that sometimes her back would be turned to the white people in the audience. It was Warwick’s way of telling the black people audience that even though they were being treated like second-class citizens by racist laws, the black people in the audience mattered to her.

Warwick also tells a story about the touring party going to a racially segregated restaurant, where a waitress took their menu order, but refused to let anyone in touring party sit in the restaurant. When Warwick cancelled the order because of this racist discrimination, the waitress then called the police on the touring party because Warwick didn’t talk to the waitress in a subservient way. Warwick says that Cooke got angry at Warwick because he thought Warwick defending herself from racism would get the entire touring party arrested.

Later in the documentary, Warwick says of the civil unrest and bigotry problems in the United States and elsewhere: “All of this craziness that happened in the ’60s, unfortunately, is happening again. What has changed? Nothing. But there is hope. Love is the answer.”

Warwick’s hit collaborations with songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David are duly noted in the documentary. Bacharach is one of the people interviewed in the film. David passed away in 2012, at age 91. The collaborations between Warwick, Bacharach and David resulted in Warwick’s biggest hits in the 1960s, including “Don’t Make Me Over,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Walk on By,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.”

In the documentary, Warwick talks about how her first major international success happened in Europe, but even her introduction to European audiences was marred by racism. Scepter Records put a photo of a white model on the cover of Warwick’s 1963 single “This Empty Place” when it was released in Europe, because the record company didn’t think European music buyers would respond to the song as well if Warwick’s photo was on the cover.

Warwick remembers European audiences being surprised and accepting when they would see her perform live for the first time and find out what she really liked like. She comments in the documentary: “Yeah, I ain’t white. I’m a tempting, teasing brown.”

Warwick adds, “My career really blossomed in Europe. It was exciting. I was treated like a little princess. It was a lot of fun.” She also talks about how actress/singer Marlene Dietrich became a mentor when Warwick spent time in Paris. Warwick says that Dietrich introduced her to haute couture fashion and encouraged Warwick to wear these types of designer clothes on stage.

With success comes inevitable criticism. Warwick often had to contend with people who would accuse her of “trying to be white” or “not being black enough” because her songs didn’t fit the expected R&B mold. (It’s the same criticism that her cousin Whitney Houston experienced when she became an instant crossover hit artist in the 1980s.) Not for nothing, Warwick became the first black artist to win a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal performance, for 1968’s “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” It was also the first of her six Grammy Awards.

Any major entertainer whose career lasts for more than 10 years has ebbs and flows. Warwick says that in the 1970s, when her career was in a slump, Arista Records founder Clive Davis (one of the people interviewed in the documentary) convinced her not to quit the music business and signed her to a record deal. In 1979, she had a huge comeback hit with “I’ll Never Love This Way Again,” which earned her another Grammy Award.

“Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” also includes a big segment on Warwick’s activism for AIDS causes. Several people in the documentary credit her with being one of the first celebrities to become an AIDS activist. Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John—her song partners in the 1985 mega-smash hit “That’s What Friends Are For” (another Grammy winner and a fundraising song for the AIDS charity amfAR)—share their thoughts on the experience and the impact that the song had for AIDS causes.

John says of Warwick: “She’s a hero of mine. She was one of the first people in the music business to speak up about [AIDS].” The documentary also shows Warwick meeting with amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost and designer/philanthropist Kenneth Cole at amfAR headquarters in New York City. Frost says that Warwick’s AIDS fundraising (including donating all of her royalties from “That’s What Friends Are For”) made a crucial difference in improving healthcare, research and other assistance for people with AIDS.

In the 1990s, Warwick spoke out against rappers having misogynistic lyrics in their music, even though she got some backlash for it. Snoop Dogg talks about how a meeting that he and other rappers had with Warwick in her home made such an impact on him, he decided to no longer have degrading lyrics about women in his songs. Snoop Dogg says the turning point was when Warwick got him to really think about how he would feel if someone used those misogynistic words on her or any of his female family members.

“Not much scares us,” Snoop Dogg comments on that pivotal meeting, “but this had us shook! We were the most gangsta you could be. But that day at Dionne Warwick’s, we got out-gangsta’d.” Warwick says of that experience of having a group of gangsta rappers in her home: “My sons thought I was out of my mind.”

Warwick also talks about her personal life, including briefly dating Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1960s (whom she also calls her “mentor” when she first performed in Las Vegas), and having a volatile marriage to actor/jazz musician William Elliott. The first time they married in 1966, they got divorced less than a year later. They remarried in 1967 and then got divorced again in 1975.

The former couple’s sons David Elliott and Damon Elliot are interviewed in the documentary. David mentions that his mother would sometimes divert her tour, just so she could go to one of his Little League games. “Those were special times,” he comments. Damon adds, “She’s the everything of the family.”

Friends and relatives say Warwick was devastated by the deaths of Whitney Houston (in 2012) and Whitney and Bobby Brown’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown (in 2015), who both died of drowning-related causes in a bathtub. The documentary includes a clip of Warwick’s speech at Whitney’s funeral. In a documentary interview, Warwick says she misses Whitney and Bobbi Kristina tremendously and thinks about them every day. Warwick is philosophical when she says that whatever time people have on Earth is best used in service of others.

Warwick also opens up about filing for bankruptcy in 2013, which her son Damon says happened because of “having an accountant who screws you over.” Warwick comments, “If General Motors can file for bankruptcy, why not Dionne Warwick?” There’s also acknowledgement that Warwick 1990s stint as a spokesperson for the Psychic Friends Network was a low point in her career.” Her son David says of her association with the Psychic Friends Network, “Unfortunately, it overshadowed her as a singer.”

As expected in a celebrity documentary such as “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” other notable people in the film have nothing but praise for the celebrity. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton mentions that when he was courting his wife Hillary during a trip to Northern California, he wanted to visit San Jose, because of Warwick’s song “Do You Know the Way to San Jose.” He also says that when he was president of the U.S. in the 1990s, Warwick always pushed him to approve more federal funds for AIDS causes, and he appreciated how she always told him that whatever was given was “never enough.”

Barry Gibb talks about how he and Arista Records founder Davis had to work hard to convince Warwick to record the Gibb-written song “Heartbreaker,” which became a big hit for her in 1982. Gibb says, “If you want to make a great record, make a Dionne Warwick record.” Former U.S. congressman Charles Rangel gives the type of gushing comment that many of the other interviewee say in the documentary: “She is truly one of the greatest ambassadors of good will.”

Other interviewees in the documentary, whose screen time is really just reduced to sound bites, include Jesse Jackson, Gloria Estefan, Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana, Melissa Manchester, Chuck Jackson, Olivia Newton-John, Smokey Robinson, Valerie Simpson, Apollo Theater historian Billy Mitchell, radio DJ Jerry Blavat and National Museum of African American History director Lonnie Bunch. Because of this over-abundance of praise, the movie often veers into looking more like a tribute. However, because the documentary doesn’t gloss over some of Warwick’s low points in her life, and she talks about these low points, it’s saved from being a superficial, fluffy film.

Even when Warwick makes a self-congratulatory statement in the documentary, such as, “I am a messenger. I am carrying messages of love and hope,” it’s not too grandiose in the context of this film. “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” has plenty of evidence of Warwick’s lifelong actions for worthy humanitarian causes. Most of all, the documentary is testament to Warwick being an example of someone who can have staying power in showbiz without having to invent any personas and without compromising who she really is.

CNN will premiere “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over” on January 1, 2023.

Review: ‘Ellis,’ starring Ellis Marsalis Jr.

December 30, 2022

by Carla Hay

Ellis Marsalis Jr. in “Ellis”

“Ellis”

Directed by Sascha Just

Culture Representation: In the documentary film “Ellis,” a predominantly African American group of people (with some white people), who are all connected in some way to jazz musician Ellis Marsalis Jr., discuss his life and career.

Culture Clash: Marsalis overcame obstacles in a racist music industry to become an influential jazz artist and producer. 

Culture Audience:  Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Ellis Marsalis Jr. fans, “Ellis” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching an easygoing but not particularly exciting documentary about a famous jazz musician.

Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis in “Ellis”

Although “Ellis” often looks like a unchallenging tribute film to a music icon, it can maintain viewer interest because of the people interviewed in the documentary and for offering some enjoyable performance footage. This documentary about jazz legend Ellis Marsalis Jr. plays it very safe, but it’s an insightful look into his professional and personal life. He participated in this documentary, which was his last film project before he died at age 85 of COVID-19-related pneumonia in 2020. “Ellis” is also the first feature-length documentary specifically about him.

Directed by Sascha Just, “Ellis” lets the movie’s namesake do much of the talking in telling his life story. His memories and stories (which sometimes ramble and could have used tighter editing) shape the narrative of the documentary, which has the expected mix of interviews, archival footage and exclusive footage that is new to this film. “Ellis,” which is Just’s feature-film directorial debut, had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2022.

“Ellis” is told mostly in chronological order, with Ellis starting off by talking about his childhood and how he got into music. His parents (Ellis Marsalis Sr. and Florence Robertson) came from fairly different backgrounds. Robertson was a Creole from New Ellis, Louisiana. Ellis Sr. was a non-Creole from Summit, Mississippi. Ellis Jr. was born and raised in New Orleans, which has long been considered the American city most associated with jazz.

Ellis says of his early years as a musician: “I was learning the craft by way of bebop.” He took up playing the clarinet because he admired Artie Shaw. In high school, he listened to R&B, but jazz would eventually become his passion. However, because music education at the time was focused on European-based music (classic music or opera), Ellis remembers he couldn’t play jazz around the Catholic nuns who taught at the schools he attended. His mother bought him a tenor saxophone, but he also started playing the piano, which became his favorite instrument.

Instead of becoming a professional musician after graduating from high school, Ellis decided he would get a college education first at Dillard University. He graduated in 1955. His father paid for the tuition, even though Ellis says that his father (who owned a hotel on property that he owned) was skeptical that a college education would be beneficial to a black man in America at the time. Ellis Jr. saw things differently: “Being in the classroom was the closest thing between not having to pick up that mop and broom.

Ellis says of his father: “He didn’t want to work for anyone,” and Ellis Jr. inherited some of that entrepreneurial spirit by becoming an independent musician for hire. And his appreciation for education served him well when he became music teacher to help pay the bills when he wasn’t making enough money as a musician. He comments, “People who understood the economics of the situation could put a hustle together.”

Growing up in racially segregated Louisiana had an effect on him too, but Ellis doesn’t dwell on the negative experiences in this documentary. He says of spending a great deal of his life living with racist segregation: “It affected lots of stuff: the way you talked, the way you dressed, the way you studied in school.”

Ellis’ mentor at Dillard University was Harold Battiste, who would go on to found All for One (AFO) Records. As poet Kalamu ya Salaam says in the documentary about Battiste: “He had a vision that was just broader than playing music. He wanted to produce music. He wanted black people of his time and place to control and own their music.” Ellis Jr. was one of the artists who recorded music for AFO.

In the documentary, Ellis’ son Jason remember discovering an AFO Records box set at the age of 10 and hearing his father’s music and being surprised that it was so different from what he expected: “II couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was hearing the music that is not the kind of music that people think of when they think of the city of New Orleans, to this day.”

Ellis tells some entertaining stories about his travels as a young musician, when he would go on the road with Battiste and drummer Edward Blackwell. For a while, he lived in New York City, but eventually returned to New Orleans. Except a period of time (1986 to 1989), when Ellis and his family lived in Richmond, Virginia, he would live in New Orleans for the rest of his life.

Ellis met his future wife Dolores Ferdinand at a racially segregated beach in Louisiana called Lincoln Beach. He asked for her phone number, and one of his friends said to him: “Why do you want to do that? You’re not going to call her.” Ellis quips in the documentary: “He was wrong.”

The courtship of Ellis and Dolores was somewhat interrupted in 1957, when Ellis enlisted in the U.S. Marines. He comments on his military experience: “In the Marine Corps, they look for normal people they can teach how to kill people.” He also remembers that he didn’t write too many love letters to Dolores while he was in the Marines.

After getting out of the military, he and Dolores married and would go on to have six sons together: Wynton, Branford, Jason, Delfeayo, Ellis III and Mboya Kenyatta. All of them (except for Mboya Kenyatta, who has autism) are professional musicians who have performed as solo artists and as members of the Marsalis Family band. Wynton, Branford, Jason, Delfeayo and Ellis III are all interviewed in the documentary.

Ellis describes his marriage to Dolores (who died in 2017) as generally happy but sometimes strained due the financial pressures of raising a large family on a musician’s salary that wasn’t always steady a income. Ellis comments, “I never developed a defeatist attitude about it. I always figured somehow it would work out.”

Even though money was often tight for the Marsalis family, Ellis says that Dolores told him never to give up on being a musician, even when he contemplated quitting music to become a taxi driver. To supplement his income, Ellis continued teaching music. In the 1970s, he was a teacher at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where his students included Terence Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr. and actor Wendell Pierce. (Ellis would later be the jazz program chairperson at the University of New Orleans, from 1989 to 2001.)

In the documentary, Pierce shares his memories of having Ellis as a teacher. Pierce says that his first impression of Ellis was that he was “a wise sage with a great sense of humor … He put you at ease, and gave you a sense that you were going to figure it out.” At the same time, “He was a touch teacher and a tough mentor.”

Ellis’s children say in the documentary that he was not the type of father who pushed or pressured his children into following in his footsteps. Branford remembers that his father didn’t force him to practice music. Delfeayo adds, “Yeah, he was very laid-back. Wynton comments, “he didn’t make me play in his band,” but “I loved and respected him so much.” ” Branford adds, “He wasn’t materialistic or ambitious. He just wanted to play.”

Ellis also talks about how he and Dolores were civil rights activists who were very outspoken about their rights, and they taught their children to be the same way. Wynton says, “She was very direct about any of the issues.”

The performance footage in “Ellis” includes him performing at Jazz Fest in 1994, a Marsalis Family performance at Jazz Fest in 2001, and a 2019 solo artist performance at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. His songs that are featured in the movie include “Nostalgic Impressions,” “Canadian Sunset,” Magnolia Triangle,” “Basic Urge,” “Tell Me,” “After and Monkey Puzzle.” As for his favorite recordings that he’s done, Ellis narrows it down to the Ellis Marsalis Trio music that he recorded on Blue Note Records and the 1996 “Loved Ones” album that he recorded with son Branford.

Other people interviewed the documentary are Ellis’ colleagues. They include pianist David Torkanowsky, trumpeter Ashlin Parker, saxophonist Derek Douget, pianist Tom McDermott, drummer Helen Riley, guitarist Steve Masakowski, former Musicians Village director Michele Brierre, and two of his former students: saxophonist John Ellis and pianist Jesse McBride. All of their comments are essentially praise-filled soundbites that don’t offer anything truly revealing.

“Ellis” is perfectly pleasant, but the movie might come across as a bit bland for people who have no interest in jazz music. The documentary could have used more meaningful stories about how Ellis Marsalis Jr. got inspired to write certain songs, or how he felt being the patriarch of a family of musicians. The movie’s production values are adequate. Mostly, “Ellis” tells his story in a simple but effective way, even if the movie doesn’t have anything new or surprising to reveal.

Review: ‘Spirited’ (2022), starring Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds

December 24, 2022

by Carla Hay

Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in “Spirited” (Photo courtesy of Apple Studios)

“Spirited” (2022)

Directed by Sean Anders

Culture Representation: Taking place in Minnesota, New York City and briefly in Vancouver, the musical comedy film “Spirited” (a reimagining of “A Christmas Carol”) features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans, Asians and Latinos) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: The Ghost of Christmas Present is determined to redeem a corrupt media strategist who is considered irredeemable. 

Culture Audience: “Spirited” will appeal primarily to fans of “A Christmas Carol,” musical comedies, and stars Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds.

Octavia Spencer in “Spirited” (Photo courtesy of Apple Studios)

“Spirited” revels in being a campy, musical reimagining of “A Christmas Carol,” the classic 1843 novella by Charles Dickens. The movie combines formulaic comedy with unexpected plot twists and catchy songs. The cast members also look like they’re having fun, which brings some enjoyment to watching. With a total running time of 127 minutes, “Spirited” has a sluggish middle section that somewhat drains the movie of its lively musical energy with too much dialogue. However, “Spirited” recovers in the last third of the movie, with a tone that is expected but plot developments that might surprise many viewers.

Directed by Sean Anders (who co-wrote the “Spirited” screenplay with John Morris), “Spirited” begins by showing the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come, also known as Yet-to-Come (played by Loren G. Woods and voiced by Tracy Morgan), who looks like a Grim Reaper. Yet-to-Come is haunting Ms. Karen Blansky (played by Rose Byrne) in a graveyard. She has apparently been a mean-spirited person, who is about to be punished by the ghost. Before the ghost plunges her underneath the ground, she begs for mercy and promises that she will not yell at the neighbors’ children any more.

Luckily for Karen, the ghost only wants to scare her into redeeming herself. Karen wakes up to find out that her life has been spared. And she decides to turn her life around and become a friendly person. She’s seen playing outdoor hockey with the neighborhood kids, using a round Christmas ornament instead of a hockey puck. Now that Karen has become a better person, time temporarily freezes, and several ghosts from the afterlife appear to sanction this redemption.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (played by Will Ferrell), also known as Present, says in a voiceover: “That’s what we do: We haunt someone, we change them into a better person, and we sing about it.” The ghosts then go back to their afterlife “headquarters” to celebrate this successful redemption. The other ghosts who work at the afterlife “headquarters” include the Ghost of Christmas Past (played by Sunita Mani), also known as Past, who is fun-loving and somewhat sarcastic, and ghost supervisor Marley (played by Patrick Page), who is a no-nonsense taskmaster.

Present has been dead since the 1800s and has spent the past 46 seasons redeeming people. A human-resources employee named Margot (played by Lily Sullivan) asks Present if he will ever retire and suggests that he should, but he’s not ready to retire. Present later reveals what he will get if he retires: a watch, a Sephora gift card, and a chance to go back to Earth and relive his life as a human.

One of the reasons why he doesn’t want to retire yet is that he has his sights set on redeeming what the ghosts call a “perp” (short for perpetrator): Someone who is their next target to haunt and possibly redeem. His name is Clint Briggs (played by Ryan Reynolds), the owner/president of Briggs Media Group, a consulting firm whose specialty is creating toxic controversy for publicity and profits.

Marley looks at the file on Clint and thinks that Clint is irredeemable and says it’s not worth trying to save Clint. Present vehemently disagrees and threatens to quit and retire if the group doesn’t try to redeem Clint. Marley reluctantly agrees because he doesn’t really want to lose this valuable ghost employee. Clint’s work has a worldwide influence, so Present believes that if Clint can be redeemed, the new and improved Clint can do good deeds that will have ripple effects around the world.

And so, this ghostly group travels to a hotel in Vancouver, where Clint is making a speaking appearance at a convention for the National Association of Christmas Tree Growers, who are worried about the rising popularity of artificial Christmas trees. Instead of telling these tree growers positive things that they want to hear, Clint gives a cynical lecture about how people prefer artificial Christmas trees because they are lazy and desperate. He also says that the Christmas tree growers need to sell not only the trees but also sell the idea that a real Christmas tree is about continuing Christmas traditions.

Clint has an executive vice president named Kimberly (played by Octavia Spencer), who is loyal to her boss but also morally conflicted about the dirty tricks that the company uses to get what Clint wants. The Briggs Media Group frequently ruins people’s reputations with smear campaigns. Kimberly will eventually reach a point where she will decide if she will continue with this type of work or not.

The ghosts have done a background check on Clint and found out that he grew up in Minnesota’s Minneapolis-St. Paul area, as the middle child of a single mother named Wendy (played by Jen Tullock), who is later revealed in a flashback to be an irresponsible alcoholic. Clint’s older sister Carrie (played by Andrea Anders), who was a single parent, died six years ago. It’s revealed in a flashback that Carrie decided to become a mother through a sperm donation.

Carrie’s daughter Wren (played by Marlow Barkley), who is now 13 or 14 years old, is being raised by Clint’s younger brother Owen (played by Joe Tippett), who is almost the opposite of Clint. Clint is clean-cut, wears business suits, and has an intense, competitive personality. Owen is long-haired, wears jeans and flannel shirts, and has a laid-back, mild-mannered personality.

A big part of the “Spirited” plot revolves around Wren wanting to be elected her president of her eighth-grade class. Her biggest rival in the campaign is a popular kid named Josh Hubbins (played by Maximillian Piazza), whose parents own a charitable, non-profit group that does an annual Christmas dinner event for homeless people. Wren asks Clint for help in her campaign.

And you can easily guess what happens next: Clint, with Kimberly’s help, finds “dirt” on Josh. Two years ago, Josh made a TikTok video where he insulted the Christmas dinner event for the homeless. Josh deleted the video two years ago, but Kimberly was able to find it. Kimberly has mixed feelings about using this video to ruin Josh’s reputation, but she gives this video to Wren anyway. Clint encourages Wren to make the video public when the time is right.

There are some other subplots in “Spirited” that get varying degrees of development. Clint is supposed to be haunted by Past, but her judgment is affected, because she thinks Clint is attractive and quickly develops a crush on him. Meanwhile, Present shows himself to Kimberly by accident, and they have a mutual attraction that Present doesn’t know how to handle because he’s afraid to tell Kimberly that he’s really a ghost.

In between, there are some very entertaining song-and-dance numbers, with the movie’s original songs written by Oscar-winning “La La Land” composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The movie’s choreography (led by Chloe Arnold) is a very good complement to the peppy and frequently amusing original songs. No one should expect Ferrell, Reynolds and Spencer to be fantastic music artists, by they handle their musical performances with a lot of charisma and skilled emotional expressions.

Some of the original songs in the film include “Bringin’ Back Christmas,” “Tiny Ripple,” “The View From Here,” “Good Afternoon,” “The Story of Your Life,” “Do a Little Good,” “That Christmas Morning Feelin’.” Not all of the songs are meant to be comical or jolly. Spencer’s solo singing of “The View From Here” expresses Kimberly’s regretful contemplation that Kimberly got what she wanted in her career ambitions, but she worries that she could have lost her conscience in the process.

A running joke in the movie begins during a time-traveling segment going back to the 1820s, when the saying “Good afternoon” is supposed to be an insulting comment. The time traveling and flashbacks in “Spirited” aren’t always handled very smoothly. And the movie occasionally gets overstuffed with subplots, which leads the movie to go off on a few tangents that run a little too long before things get back on track. (Look for a very quick and amusing cameo from Judi Dench.)

One of the main reasons to watch “Spirited” is that the cast members have engaging chemistry with each other. Ferrell and Reynolds have a talented ability to deliver goofy comedy with some heartfelt moments, while Spencer and the other supporting cast members are also a compatible match in this ensemble. Unless someone watching “Spirited” is in a very bad mood, it’s the type of movie that can guarantee some laughs and good-enough entertainment that puts a unique spin on a Christmas classic.

Apple Studios released “Spirited” in select U.S. cinemas on November 11, 2022. The movie premiered in Apple TV+ on November 18, 2022.

Review: ‘Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,’ starring Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders, Tamara Tunie, Nafessa Williams and Clarke Peters

December 21, 2022

by Carla Hay

Naomi Ackie in “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (Photo by Emily Aragones/TriStar Pictures)

“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

Directed by Kasi Lemmons

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1983 to 2012, in various parts of the world, the dramatic film “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” features a cast of African American and white characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Entertainment superstar Whitney Houston has struggles with her public image, her sexuality, fame, drugs, her parents and a volatile marriage to singer Bobby Brown. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of Whitney Houston fans, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” will appeal primarily to people who want to see music-video-styled recreations of her life and relatively tame depictions of her biggest public scandals.

Nafessa Williams and Naomi Ackie in “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (Photo by Emily Aragones/TriStar Pictures)

At times, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” looks more like a cliché checklist of the legendary diva’s high points and low points instead of being an insightful biopic. However, the cast members’ performances, led by a dynamic Naomi Ackie, elevate this uneven movie. The recreations of some of Whitney Houston’s most beloved performances and music videos are among the highlights of this biopic, which sometimes gets dragged down by corny dialogue and tedious pacing.

Directed by Kasi Lemmons and written by Anthony McCarten, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is a movie sanctioned by the Whitney Houston estate, which is overseen by her sister-in-law Pat, who is one of the movie’s producers. Whitney Houston—who died at age 48 in 2012, of a drug-related drowning in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub—has been the subject of some tell-all documentaries and books since her death. Therefore, the only people who might be surprised by what’s in “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” are those who don’t know what’s already been revealed in these tell-all stories or in the tabloid media.

That’s why everything in “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” feels like a retread with nothing fresh or innovative to offer in telling Whitney’s story. However, the movie delivers in its intention to be a nostalgia trip for her music and in doing faithful and meticulous staging of many of Whitney’s iconic moments. This is a movie made for fans who don’t want to see anything too shocking or too unflattering about Whitney.

Ackie’s performance as Whitney admirably captures some of the magic of this entertainment superstar. However, this depiction of Whitney never looks like a true embodiment but more like a better-than-average imitation. Some of Ackie’s real singing is in the movie, but the majority of Whitney’s singing in the movie consists of the real Whitney’s recordings. (And wisely so, since no one can completely duplicate Whitney’s extraordinary vocal talent and style.) Ackie, who is British in real life, also does a credible but not outstanding imitation of Whitney’s speaking voice.

Because this movie does not aspire to be prestigious, award-winning art, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” serves its purpose in delivering Whitney’s hits as a soundtrack to the portrayal of her life’s melodrama. Much of the real-life raunchiness and decadence are toned down to make her story more appealing to audiences of wide age ranges. The movie never takes the time to understand Whitney’s inner thoughts, but instead gives viewers plenty of behind-the-scenes drama that was already exposed years ago.

There are some touches of comedy that generally work well to lighten the mood. But sometimes, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” tries too hard to gloss over much of her emotional pain. Anything truly depressing in her life (which might have contributed to her drug addiction) is never fully examined, because the movie then jumps back into showing another Whitney performance. In other words, these are surface-level portrayals of Whitney’s problems.

For example, the 1991 miscarriage that Whitney had while filming the 1992 film “The Bodyguard” (her feature-film debut, which spawned the blockbuster soundtrack of the same name) gets less than two minutes of screen time. It breezes by with a scene of Whitney being comforted on a hospital bed by then-fiancé Bobby Brown (played by Ashton Sanders), with him telling her they can have other children in the future. And the miscarriage is never mentioned again. In real life, according to several people who knew Whitney and talked about her in interviews, this miscarriage had a profound and traumatic effect on her, but you’d never know it from watching this movie.

“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” screenwriter McCarten also wrote the divisive screenplay for “Bohemian Rhapsody” (the Oscar-winning 2018 biopic of British rock band Queen), which got a lot of criticism for jumbling the band’s timeline too much and fabricating important details. “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” doesn’t have those problems, since the movie sticks to the basic, well-known facts of Whitney’s life. The film’s tweaks to Whitney’s life timeline are minor and do not significantly rewrite factual history. The movie shows a good balance of Whitney in the recording studio and on stage, but the depictions of how she deals with her personal problems are often reduced to soundbites.

“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (which takes place from 1983 to 2012) is told mostly in chronological order, except for the movie opening with the introduction to her performance at the 1994 American Music Awards. It’s a scene that the movie circles back to at the end of the film, which concludes in a somewhat long, drawn-out and awkward way: Her entire medley performance (of “I Loves You, Porgy,” “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and “I Have Nothing”) is recreated on screen when the end credits should have already been rolling.

The movie depicts Whitney’s rise to stardom, beginning in 1983, when she was 19 or 20 years old and a backup vocalist for her gospel singer mother Cissy Houston (played by Tamara Tunie), who had a great deal of influence on Whitney as a singer. Cissy is portrayed as loving but also very strong-willed and domineering with Whitney. As a performer, Cissy was well-known but not rich by any stretch of the imagination.

Cissy’s headlining status was mostly at large nightclubs and small theaters. And even though Whitney’s cousin is Dionne Warwick, Whitney’s godmother was Aretha Franklin, and the Houston family mingled with showbiz royalty, Whitney grew up in a middle-class home in the New Jersey cities of Newark and East Orange. Cissy often spent a lot of time away from home as a touring artist to pay the family’s bills. Cissy’s then-husband John Houston (played by Clarke Peters) was also Cissy’s manager. Like many famous divas, Whitney’s first manager was also her father.

As shown and told repeatedly in the movie, Cissy and John (who would eventually divorce in 1990, after 31 years of marriage) frequently argued because John expected Cissy to be a more attentive to the family despite her busy touring schedule, while Cissy resented having to be the family’s main source of income for years. Whitney’s older brothers Michael (played by JaQuan Malik Jones) and Gary (played by Daniel Washington) are briefly seen near the beginning of the movie, in a scene where all three siblings are smoking marijuana together in one of the family’s bedrooms. In real life, Gary (who married Pat in 1994) and Michael have admitted that they introduced Whitney to marijuana and cocaine, which became longtime addictions for her. (Whitney’s older brother John Houston III is not shown and is barely mentioned in the movie.)

How did John and Cissy Houston’s troubled marriage affect Whitney? The movie quickly depicts a young adult Whitney looking sad and disturbed as she listens to her parents arguing in another room. But she’s never really shown opening up to anyone about how all of this turmoil affected her. By the time Whitney meets Robyn Crawford (played by Nafessa Williams), who’s three years older than Whitney, on a basketball court, Whitney is all too happy to name drop the famous people who are in her family, in order to impress Robyn. The movie portrays Whitney and Robyn’s first meeting in 1983, when they actually met in 1980.

As shown in the movie, Whitney and Robyn became fast friends and eventually became lovers. For a while, Whitney and Robyn lived together before Whitney became famous and during the early years of her fame. It’s a romance that the real Crawford publicly confirmed in her 2019 memoir “A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston,” after years of speculation and gossip about the true nature of their relationship. Brown, who was married to Whitney from 1992 to 2007, also told intimate details about his volatile relationship with Whitney (which included love-triangle jealousy between him and Crawford) in his 2016 memoir “Every Little Step: My Story.”

“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” then shows the expected rise to fame of Whitney, beginning with a very contrived-looking scene of Cissy seeing Arista Records founder Clive Davis (played by Stanley Tucci) in the audience before the start of one of Cissy’s shows at Sweetwater’s Club in New York City. Cissy pretends to lose her voice, so that a confused Whitney would go on stage in Cissy’s place. Whitney sings a cover version of George Benson’s 1977 song “The Greatest Love of All,” which later became a hit from Whitney’s 1985 self-titled debut album. Clive is predictably blown away by Whitney’s talent; some variations of “I can make you star” scenes happen; Whitney signs a record deal with Arista; and Whitney becomes an instant smash.

Throughout the movie, Whitney is shown being torn between her public image and how she lived in private. From the beginning of her career at Arista, it was planned that she would have the image of a clean-cut princess who would have wide crossover appeal among many races and generations. Behind the scenes, Whitney is shown as someone who was already using drugs, and she didn’t really like wearing the dresses and wigs that she was pressured to wear as part of her “princess” image.

Behind the scenes, Whitney and Robyn were open about their relationship, but Whitney’s father/manager and other handlers told Whitney to appear like a heterosexual bachelorette who wanted to eventually get married to a man. Because of Whitney’s religious Christian upbringing, the movie shows her often being personally conflicted about her same-sex romance with Robyn, while Robyn had no such doubts. When the tabloid media would later report that Whitney was a lesbian, Whitney would deny it, which is technically an accurate denial, because she was also sexually attracted to men, and she probably identified as queer or bisexual.

When Whitney has a short-lived affair with singer Jermaine Jackson (played by Jaison Hunter), her duet partner on 1985’s “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do,” the movie shows Robyn flying into a rage and trashing the home where she and Whitney live. The movie does not mention that Jermaine was married to his first wife, Hazel Gordy (daughter of Motown founder Berry Gordy), at the time of Jermaine’s affair with Whitney. Eventually, Whitney and Robyn moved on to other love partners, but Robyn and Whitney continued to work together.

The movie also shows how Whitney’s relationship with Robyn led to clashes with Whitney’s father/manager John (who didn’t like that Whitney hired inexperienced Robyn as Whitney’s personal assistant) and later conflicts with Whitney’s husband Bobby, when Robyn had been promoted at the time to being Whitney’s creative director. (“She’s my princess!” John sneers at Robyn, during one of the movie’s cringeworthy lines of dialogue.) When the addictions to drugs and alcohol got out of control for Whitney and Bobby, the movie portrays Robyn as one of the few people in the couple’s entourage who would try to put a stop to it. But those efforts got stubborn resistance from self-destructive Whitney and Bobby. Robyn, who eventually quit working with Whitney in 2000, left the entertainment business.

Whitney’s relationship with Robyn in the early years of Whitney’s career are the scenes that seem the most genuine in portraying the “real” Whitney Houston. In a somewhat amusing scene, Robyn and Whitney both barge into John’s office, where he and his mistress/secretary Barbara (played by Andrea Eversley) are interrupted while being affectionate with each other. Whitney reacts like she knows that her father has been cheating on her mother, but Whitney doesn’t want to talk about it. Meanwhile, before Barbara leaves the room, she calls Whitney the family nickname for Whitney—Nippy—and Whitney and Robyn give each other a look, as if they’re thinking, “Say what? How dare she use the name Nippy!”

“Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” has repetitive scenes of Whitney being bothered by criticism that she wasn’t “black enough” for some black audiences because of her choice of music, her mainstream success and her “America’s sweetheart” image. In other scene, Whitney gets defensive and angry with a radio DJ who tells her that many black people think she’s a sellout to her race. Whitney also makes a point of telling people that she didn’t grow up spoiled and rich.

The movie shows how Whitney tries to keep her composure in the audience when she gets booed at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards while her name was announced as one of the show’s nominees for Best Music Video, and losing in that category to Janet Jackson. Robyn is Whitney’s date at this show. The movie alters a few details, because the booing incident actually happened at the 1988 Soul Train Music Awards, not at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards.

The 1989 Soul Train Music Awards was where Whitney met Bobby, who was seated in front of her. Whitney gets his attention by swinging her purse deliberately so that the purse hit his head. (In real life, Whitney said she got his attention by kicking his chair, and he was really irritated by it.) Sanders portrays Bobby as someone who can be both a selfish troublemaker and a generous charmer, but the movie still leaves out some of the worst public information about Bobby.

Tucci’s portrayal of music mogul Clive is surprisingly subdued and not as interesting as it could have been, considering the real Clive Davis (who is one of the movie’s producers) has a reputation for being very charismatic. The movie shows Whitney telling Clive before she makes her first album with Arista that she doesn’t want to make white music or black music. She just wants to make great music. It’s one of several examples of the movie’s hokey dialogue that doesn’t ruin the movie but certainly lowers the quality of the film. Another example is when Clive first sees Whitney perform at Sweetwater’s Club, and he declares to his subordinate Gerry Griffith (played by Lance A. Williams), who persuaded Clive to be there: “I believe I’ve heard the greatest voice of her generation.”

The movie makes a half-hearted attempt to explain why Whitney didn’t go to rehab sooner for her addictions. In a scene shortly before Whitney records her first album, Clive promises that he won’t judge her or lecture her about her personal life. It isn’t until Whitney starts canceling performances, and the record company is losing money in other ways because of her drug problems, that Clive finally intervenes and tells her that she needs to go to rehab. It’s a very over-simplified scene because there were a lot more people involved in enabling Whitney and getting her to go to rehab. Her first public stint in rehab was in 2005.

What stands out most in this movie are undoubtedly the near-perfect recreations of Whitney’s on-stage performances, with the best highlight being Whitney’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XXV in 1991. The scene is shown with the pomp and circumstance of immersing audiences into a VIP experience of that spectacular performance. Even though in real life, Whitney used a prerecorded track instead of singing live, the energy in the performance and her vocal expressions are what really captivated people the most.

Other recreations in the movie include Whitney’s performance of “Home” on “The Merv Griffin Show” in 1983; her music videos for 1985’s “How Will I Know,” 1987’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” 1992’s “I Will Always Love You” and 1998’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay”; and 1994’s Whitney: The Concert for a New South Africa. The movie also has performances depicting some of her tours spanning several decades, from the 1980s to her ill-fated 2009-2010 last tour. The songs she performs in these concert scenes include “I’m Your Baby Tonight,” “I’m Every Woman,” “So Emotional” and “One Moment in Time.” There’s also a depiction of Whitney’s musical director Rickey Minor (played by Dave Heard) convincing a reluctant and skeptical Whitney in a rehearsal space to do her 1994 American Music Awards medley and rehearsing it for the first time.

The movie accurately shows how her final tour wasn’t exactly a triumph, since many of the shows were not well-attended, started late, or were canceled. In addition, Whitney got some negative reviews for not being able to hit the same notes that she could in the past. Whitney’s financial problems and her legal battles with her father (who sued her for $100 million in 2002, as he was dying in a hospital) are also depicted like more plot developments in a soap opera. Pat Houston (played by Kris Sidberry), who took over as Whitney’s manager after Whitney fired her father, is portrayed as the person who pointed out to Whitney that John Houston’s irresponsible spending led to Whitney’s losing so much money, she describes her fortune as “almost gone” in a scene where she confronts her father about it.

For every showstopping musical performance in the movie, the off-stage recreations are hit and miss, usually marred by shallow dialogue and very contrived scenarios. When Bobby and Whitney begin dating and are labeled an “odd couple” by the media, Bobby is defensive and tells Whitney why they have so much in common: “We from the ‘hood!” Bobby’s marriage proposal in a limousine is made to look intentionally comedic. As soon as Whitney says yes, he confesses that one of his ex-girlfriends is pregnant with their second child. Whitney gets angry, storms out of the limo, and the couple has one of many arguments shown in the movie.

Whitney and Bobby’s 1992 wedding, which was extravagant and had about 800 guests in real life, looks like a cheap imitation in the movie, which does a quick montage that makes it look like hardly anyone was at the wedding. Don’t expect the movie to give much insight into how Whitney was as a mother. Whitney and Bobby’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina (played as an adolescent by Bria Danielle Singleton), is portrayed as Whitney’s sidekick who doesn’t have much of a personality. (Bobbi Kristina’s tragic death at age 22 in 2015 is not mentioned in the movie.)

To its credit, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is more candid and a better-made film than Lifetime’s relatively low-budget 2015 movie “Whitney” (starring Yaya DaCosta as Whitney), which was directed by Angela Bassett. Lifetime’s “Whitney” movie was not sanctioned by the Whitney Houston estate, which might be why “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” excels in showing Whitney as a music artist. For all of its shortcomings, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” at least gets it right when it comes to representing Whitney’s musical essence that remains her greatest legacy.

TriStar Pictures will release “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody” in U.S. cinemas on December 23, 2022.

2022 TheGrio Awards: Inaugural event honorees include Dave Chappelle, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Tyler Perry, Patti LaBelle, Kenan Thompson

November 21, 2022

The following is a press release from CBS:

African American-focused news, lifestyle, sports and entertainment platform theGrio (www.thegrio.com) recently celebrated icons, leaders and legends at Byron Allen’s inaugural TheGrio Awards, a star-studded, black-tie event held at the Beverly Hilton. Co-hosted by Sheryl Underwood of “The Talk” and Taye Diggs, “Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards” will be broadcast Saturday, November 26, 2022 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network and available to stream live on Paramount +*.

“Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards” celebrates excellence in film, music, comedy, television, sports, philanthropy, business, fashion, social justice, environmental justice and education, and the cultural icons and innovators whose many contributions positively impact America. The special pays tribute to and amplifies the history makers, change agents and artists who define and influence our world.

Honorees include Dave Chappelle (Cultural Icon Award), Ben Crump (Justice Icon Award), Allyson Felix (Sports Icon Award), Jennifer Hudson (Trailblazer Icon Award), Patti LaBelle (Music Icon Award), Queen Latifah (Television Icon Award), Norman Lear (Champion Award), Alena Analeigh McQuarter (Young Icon Award), Don Peebles (Business Icon Award), Tyler Perry (ICON Award), Robert F. Smith (Philanthropy Award) and Kenan Thompson (Comedy Icon Award). Also, the special features musical performances by Yolanda Adams, Tyrese, Fantasia and Patti LaBelle. Greg Phillinganes serves as musical director, and DJ Kiss acts as both D.J. and announcer for the awards special.

“I created theGrio Awards to celebrate and amplify African-American excellence and the incredible champions from other communities who truly support us,” said Byron Allen, founder/chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group. “As a child, strong, positive African-American icons such as Berry Gordy, Jr., Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, Jr. helped me see myself differently and changed the trajectory of my life. Celebrating and amplifying iconic individuals is something we can never do enough of, especially for our children.”

“TheGrio Awards” is co-produced by Allen Media Group and Backhand Productions. Byron Allen, Carolyn Folks, Jennifer Lucas, Jeff Atlas and Michelle Willrich are executive producers.

*Paramount+ Premium subscribers will have access to stream live via the live feed of their local CBS affiliate.

About Allen Media Group

Chairman and CEO Byron Allen founded Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios in 1993. Headquartered in Los Angeles, it has offices in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Charleston, SC. Allen Media Group owns 27 ABC-NBC-CBS-FOX network affiliate broadcast television stations in 21 U.S. markets and twelve 24-hour HD television networks serving nearly 220 million subscribers: THE WEATHER CHANNEL, THE WEATHER CHANNEL EN ESPAÑOL, PETS.TV, COMEDY.TV, RECIPE.TV, CARS.TV, ES.TV, MYDESTINATION.TV, JUSTICE CENTRAL.TV, THEGRIO, THIS TV, and PATTRN. Allen Media Group also owns the streaming platforms HBCU GO, SPORTS.TV, THEGRIO, THE WEATHER CHANNEL STREAMING APP and LOCAL NOW–the free-streaming AVOD service powered by THE WEATHER CHANNEL and content partners, which delivers real-time, hyper-local news, weather, traffic, sports, and lifestyle information. Allen Media Group also produces, distributes, and sells advertising for 68 television programs, making it one of the largest independent producers/distributors of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations. With a library of over 5,000 hours of owned content across multiple genres, Allen Media Group provides video content to broadcast television stations, cable television networks, mobile devices, and multimedia digital. Our mission is to provide excellent programming to our viewers, online users, and Fortune 500 advertising partners. Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures is a full-service, theatrical motion picture distribution company specializing in wide release commercial content. ESMP released 2017’s highest-grossing independent movie, the shark thriller 47 METERS DOWN, which grossed over $44.3 million. In 2018, ESMP also released the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Western HOSTILES, the historic mystery-thriller CHAPPAQUIDDICK and the sequel to 47 METERS DOWN, 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED. The digital distribution unit of Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. In 2016, Allen Media Group purchased The Grio, a highly rated digital video-centric news community platform devoted to providing African Americans with compelling stories and perspectives currently underrepresented in existing national news outlets. The Grio features aggregated and original video packages, news articles and opinion pieces on topics that include breaking news, politics, health, business and entertainment. Originally launched in 2009, the platform was then purchased by NBC News in 2010. The digital platform remains focused on curating exciting digital content and currently has more than 100 million annual visitors.

About Backhand Productions

Jeff Atlas founded Backhand Productions with a contract to produce 14 hours of live TV content for the Democratic National Connvention. From there, Backhand went on to produce a series of diverse, high-quality productions for ABC, NBC, FOX, TNT, Nickelodeon, MTV, and more. Notable projects include Kevin Hart’s theatrical blockbuster, Laugh at My Pain, the launch of YouTube Space LA, and the National Urban League’s National Annual Conference and NAACP Image Awards. His virtual event credits include The Gracie Awards, the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions, and the go90s live stream of the Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco. In addition, he co-created, and executive produced the limited series Blood Ivory for Animal Planet, which focuses on the non-profit group of American veterans (VETPAW) and their first mission to Tanzania to support the elephant anti-poaching effort. More recent projects include the Biden Inaugural in 2021, the NBA All-Star Game, and project launches for Instagram and Facebook. Backhand is represented by Robyn Lattaker-Johnson at A3 Artists Agency and Kerry Smith of Smith Entertainment Legal Group.

2022 American Music Awards: Taylor Swift is the top winner

November 20, 2022

The following is a press release from ABC:

Taylor Swift at the 2022 American Music Awards at the the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Nvoember 20, 2022 (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Taylor Swift broke her own record of the most wins of any artist in the history of the American Music Awards Sunday night by clinching the top spot in the winner’s circle with six wins at the “2022 American Music Awards” (AMAs), to bring her total count to 40 wins. The year’s hottest night in music represents top achievements in music determined by the fans, for the fans. Hosted by Wayne Brady, the thrilling evening filled with world premiere performances and pop-culture moments aired live on ABC from the Microsoft Theater at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles.

Show highlights included the following:

  •  Eight-time AMA nominee P!NK skated in from the streets of Los Angeles for an epic start to the AMAs, opening the show with a powerful world premiere performance of her brand-new single “Never Gonna Not Dance Again.” She later graced the stage for a moving and powerful performance of “Hopelessly Devoted To You” dedicated to the inspirational life and career of 10-time AMA winner Olivia Newton-John.
  • This year’s AMA host Wayne Brady bantered with the audience, singing about how he prepared to host the AMAs in his opening monologue. Brady also tapped into his “Dancing With The Stars” skills to perform a number alongside his current DWTS partner, Witney Carson. Later in the show, Brady tapped into members of his audience including Niecy Nash-Betts for a random selection of words, which he used to improvise a rap on stage.
  • Two-time nominee Bebe Rexha made her U.S. television performance debut of her global smash hit “I’m Good (Blue)” in an out of this world futuristic performance.
  • Global superstar and Favorite Female Latin Artist winner Anitta made her AMAs stage debut with her smash hit “Envolver” and was joined by two-time AMA winner Missy Elliott who surprised fans hitting the stage to join Anitta for “Lobby.” The two danced through a hotel lobby celebrating the first-ever performance of their smash hit.
  • Country superstar, 17-time AMA winner and all-time Favorite Country Album record-holder Carrie Underwood flew through the theater on a neon orb to the stage to perform her hittrack “Crazy Angels.”
  • First-time nominee GloRilla made her AMAs stage debut with a surprise performance alongside last year’s AMA host Cardi B for their hit “Tomorrow 2.”
  • Imagine Dragons hit the stage for a fiery performance, singing a medley of their hits including “Bones.” The band was later joined by Atlanta rapper J.I.D. for a striking performance of their duo hit “Enemy.”
  • Multiplatinum rapper Lil Baby performed a medley of his smash hits “California Breeze” and “In a Minute” in a suave performance on the AMAs stage.
  • Artist, songwriter and actor Yola took the stage to perform her powerful original song “Break the Bough,” named the American Music Awards SONG OF SOUL, a spotlight moment that highlights an artist that uses music to invoke social change. Yola’s colorful performance showcased her vocal abilities and star power.
  • New Artist of the Year winner Dove Cameron made her AMAs stage debut in a theatrical performance of her hit single “Boyfriend.”
  • Presented by longtime friend Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie received his 18th AMA award with the prestigious Icon Award. Later in the evening, stars joined together to honor Richie with tribute performances, including two-time AMA winner Stevie Wonder and two-time AMA nominee Charlie Puth,who performed a medley of Richie’s hit songs complete with dueling pianos and scat singing.
  • Superstars Jimmie Allen, Ari Lennox, Yola, Muni Long, Melissa Ethridge, Dustin Lynch, and Smokey Robinson joined Wonder and Puth on the stage for an epic surprise recreation of the 1986 AMAs performance of “We Are The World,” a nostalgic highlight of the evening with Lionel joining the group on stage.
  • Adding the musical connectivity to a night filled with superstar performances, tributes and pop culture moments, iconic DJ, producer/rapper and philanthropist D-Nice was the resident 2022 AMAs House DJ.
  • In tribute to the life and career of Loretta Lynn, country star Jimmie Allen took the stage for a quick rendition of one of her greatest hits.
  • Host Wayne Brady led a moment of tribute to the late rapper Takeoff, speaking to his life, career and success in the music industry.

Winner Highlights of the “2022 American Music Awards”:

  • Taylor Swift broke her own record with six AMA wins, making the 40-time winner the most decorated artist in AMAs history. Her album “Red (Taylor’s Version)” earned the awards for Favorite Country Album, Favorite Pop Album and Favorite Music Video, while Swift also won Favorite Female Pop Artist, Favorite Female Country Artist and Artist of the Year. In 2013, Swift won the AMA for Favorite Country Album for the first version of her album “Red.”
  • Last year’s Artist of the Year winners BTS took home two AMAs this year, including the first-ever AMA for Favorite K-Pop Artist.
  • Six-time nominee this year Beyoncé won two awards tonight for Favorite Female R&B Artist and Favorite R&B Album for her latest album, “Renaissance.”
  • Ghost took home the first-ever AMA for Favorite Rock Album for their latest album “Impera.”
  • This year’s most-nominated artist, Bad Bunny, took home two AMAs for Favorite Male Latin Artist, Favorite Latin Album for “Un Verano Sin Ti.”
  • Elton John won his first AMA since 1998 for Collaboration of the Year for his hit “Cold Heart – PNAU Remix” with Dua Lipa.
    First-time AMA nominee Dove Cameron took home this year’s New Artist of the Year award.
  • Anitta, a first-time nominee this year, won the AMA for Favorite Female Latin Artist.

Presenters throughout the night included Dan + Shay, Dustin Lynch, Ellie Goulding, Jessie James Decker, Jimmie Allen, Karrueche Tran, Kelly Rowland, Kim Petras, Liza Koshy, Latto, Meghan Trainor, Melissa Etheridge, Niecy Nash-Betts, Roselyn Sanchez, Sabrina Carpenter, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Smokey Robinson.


2022 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS WINNERS
Artist of the Year: Taylor Swift
New Artist of the Year: Dove Cameron
Collaboration of the Year: Elton John & Dua Lipa “Cold Heart – PNAU Remix”
Favorite Touring Artist: Coldplay
Favorite Music Video: Taylor Swift “All Too Well: The Short Film”
Favorite Male Pop Artist: Harry Styles
Favorite Female Pop Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite Pop Duo or Group: BTS
Favorite Pop Album: Taylor Swift “Red (Taylor’s Version)”
Favorite Pop Song: Harry Styles “As It Was”
Favorite Male Country Artist: Morgan Wallen
Favorite Female Country Artist: Taylor Swift
Favorite Country Duo or Group: Dan + Shay
Favorite Country Album: Taylor Swift “Red (Taylor’s Version)”
Favorite Country Song: Morgan Wallen “Wasted on You”
Favorite Male Hip-Hop Artist: Kendrick Lamar
Favorite Female Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Favorite Hip-Hop Album: Kendrick Lamar “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”
Favorite Hip-Hop Song: Future ft. Drake & Tems “WAIT FOR U”
Favorite Male R&B Artist: Chris Brown
Favorite Female R&B Artist: Beyoncé
Favorite R&B Album: Beyoncé “Renaissance”
Favorite R&B Song: Wizkid ft. Tems “Essence”
Favorite Male Latin Artist: Bad Bunny
Favorite Female Latin Artist: Anitta
Favorite Latin Duo or Group: Yahritza Y Su Esencia
Favorite Latin Album: Bad Bunny “Un Verano Sin Ti”
Favorite Latin Song: Sebastián Yatra “Dos Oruguitas”
Favorite Rock Artist: Machine Gun Kelly
Favorite Rock Song (NEW): Måneskin “Beggin’”
Favorite Rock Album (NEW): Ghost “Impera”
Favorite Inspirational Artist: for KING & COUNTRY
Favorite Gospel Artist: Tamela Mann
Favorite Dance/Electronic Artist: Marshmello
Favorite Soundtrack: “ELVIS”
Favorite Afrobeats Artist (NEW): Wizkid
Favorite K-Pop Artist (NEW): BTS

2022 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARD WINNERS BY ARTIST
Taylor Swift (6): Artist of the Year, Favorite Music Video, Favorite Female Pop Artist, Favorite Pop Album,  Favorite Female Country Artist, Favorite Country Album
Bad Bunny (2): Favorite Male Latin Artist, Favorite Latin Album
Beyonce (2): Favorite Female R&B Artist, Favorite R&B Album
BTS (2): Favorite Pop Duo or Group, Favorite K-Pop Artist
Harry Styles (2): Favorite Male Pop Artist, Favorite Pop Song
Kendrick Lamar (2): Favorite Male Hip-Hop Artist, Favorite Hip-Hop Album
Morgan Wallen (2): Favorite Male Country Artist, Favorite Country Song
Tems (2): Favorite Hip-Hop Song, Favorite R&B Song
Wizkid (2): Favorite R&B Song, Favorite Afrobeats Artist (NEW)
Anitta (1): Favorite Female Latin Artist
Chris Brown (1): Favorite Male R&B Artist
Coldplay (1): Favorite Touring Artist
Dan + Shay (1): Favorite Country Duo or Group
Dove Cameron (1): New Artist of the Year
Drake (1): Favorite Hip-Hop Song
Dua Lipa (1): Collaboration of the Year
Elton John (1): Collaboration of the Year
“ELVIS” (1): Favorite Soundtrack
for KING & COUNTRY (1):Favorite Inspirational Artist
Future (1): Favorite Hip-Hop Song
Ghost (1): Favorite Rock Album (NEW)
Machine Gun Kelly (1):Favorite Rock Artist
Måneskin (1): Favorite Rock Song (NEW)
Marshmello (1): Favorite Dance/Electronic Artist
Nicki Minaj (1): Favorite Female Hip-Hop Artist
Sebastián Yatra  (1): Favorite Latin Song
Tamela Mann (1): Favorite Gospel Artist
Yahritza Y Su Esencia (1): Favorite Latin Duo or Group

About the “2022 American Music Awards”:

  • The AMAs represents the year’s top achievements in music determined by the fans, for the fans. Last year’s show stands as the most social telecast of 2021 with 46.5 million interactions, underscoring the role fans play in the annual event. A vibrant night of non-stop music, the AMAs features a powerful lineup featuring first-time collaborations and exclusive world premiere performances from music’s biggest names – from Pop to Rap, R&B to Country, Latin to K-Pop – and more, as well as memorable moments that live on in pop culture.
  • As the world’s largest fan-voted awards show, the AMAs air globally across a footprint of linear and digital platforms in more than 120 countries and territories.
  • The “2022 American Music Awards” winners are voted entirely by fans.Nominees are based on key fan interactions – as reflected on the Billboard charts – including streaming, album and song sales, radio airplay, and tour grosses. These measurements are tracked by Billboard and its data partner Luminate, and cover the eligibility period of Sept. 24, 2021, through Sept. 22, 2022.
  • Airing live on ABC, the “2022 American Music Awards” are produced by dick clark productions and Jesse Collins Entertainment. Jesse Collins is showrunner and executive producer. Dionne Harmon, Jeannae Rouzan-Clay, and Larry Klein are also executive producers. For the latest AMA news, exclusive content and more, follow the AMAs on social (FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokSnapchat and YouTube), online at theamas.com and ABC.com, and join the conversation by using the official hashtag for the show, #AMAs.

ABOUT DICK CLARK PRODUCTIONS
dick clark productions is the world’s largest producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment programming with the “Academy of Country Music Awards,” “American Music Awards,” “Billboard Music Awards,” “Golden Globe Awards,” “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” and the “Streamy Awards.” dick clark productions owns one of the world’s most extensive and unique entertainment archive libraries with more than 60 years of award-winning shows, historic programs, specials, performances and legendary programming. For more information please visit www.dickclark.com.

ABOUT ABC ENTERTAINMENT
ABC Entertainment’s compelling programming includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” the longest-running medical drama in primetime television; ratings juggernaut “The Bachelor” franchise; riveting dramas “Big Sky,” “The Good Doctor,” “A Million Little Things,” “The Rookie” and “Station 19”; trailblazing comedies “Abbott Elementary,” “The Conners,” “The Goldbergs,” “Home Economics” and “The Wonder Years”; popular game shows, including “The $100,000 Pyramid,” “Celebrity Family Feud,” “The Chase,” “Press Your Luck” and “To Tell the Truth”; star-making sensation “American Idol”; “Judge Steve Harvey,” the network’s strongest unscripted series debut in a year; reality phenomenon “Shark Tank”; family favorites “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Holey Moley”; “General Hospital,” which heads into its milestone 60th season on the network; and late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”; as well as the critically acclaimed, Emmy®Award-winning “Live in Front of a Studio Audience” specials. The network also boasts some of television’s most prestigious awards shows, including “The Oscars®,” “The CMA Awards” and the “American Music Awards.”

ABC programming can also be viewed on Hulu.

ABOUT JESSE COLLINS ENTERTAINMENT
Founded in 2012, Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company that has played an integral role in producing many of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. The Emmy® winning company has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks. On the film side, the company also has a first look on JCE’s film development projects which could include Viacom’s film entities such as Paramount Players.  JCE’s award-winning and critically acclaimed television includes programming from its three divisions.  From the scripted division: scripted series—Real Husbands of Hollywood, American Soul and miniseries—The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story.  From the unscripted division: unscripted series – Cardi Tries, My Killer Body with K. Michelle, DJ Cassidy’s Pass the Mic and Forward: The Future of Black Music, competition/game shows—Becoming A Popstar, Rhythm + Flow, Sunday Best, Hip Hop Squares and Nashville Squares, talk show – Face to Face with Becky G and children’s series—Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices (Emmy® Award winner).  From the specials division: award shows—The American Music Awards, BET Awards, Soul Train Awards, BET Hip Hop Awards, Black Girls Rock!, BET Honors, UNCF’s An Evening of Stars and ABFF Honors, specials—The Super Bowl Halftime Show, CNN’s Juneteenth: A Global Celebration of Freedom, Martin: The Reunion, John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero, Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration, Change Together: From The March On Washington To Today, A GRAMMY Salute to the Sounds of Change, Stand Up for Heroes, Dear Mama, Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’, Def Comedy Jam 25, Leslie Jones: Time Machine, The All-Star Nickmas Spectacular and Rip the Runway.  Emmy® winner Jesse Collins, Founder and CEO, is the executive producer of all programming.  He is also an executive producer for the Grammy Awards.  He produced the 2021 Oscars.

Review: ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,’ starring Daniel Radcliffe

November 2, 2022

by Carla Hay

Spencer Treat Clark, Tommy O’Brien, Daniel Radcliffe and Rainn Wilson in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (Photo courtesy of The Roku Channel)

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story”

Directed by Eric Appel

Culture Representation: Taking place from the late 1960s to 1985, mostly in California, the comedy film “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some African Americans, Latinos and Asians) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Nerdy misfit Al Yankovic becomes world-famous for his parodies of pop music hits, but his fame, an inflated ego and an ill-fated romance with Madonna cause problems in his life. 

Culture Audience: “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” will appeal primarily to fans of “Weird Al” Yankovic, star Daniel Radcliffe and movies that spoof celebrity biopics.

Evan Rachel Wood and Daniel Radcliffe in “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” (Photo courtesy of The Roku Channel)

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” isn’t a straightforward biopic but it’s more like a biopic parody, which is fitting, considering the movie is about music parody king “Weird Al” Yankovic. Daniel Radcliffe fully commits to an off-the-wall performance as Yankovic. Some parts of the movie get distracted by trying to be too bizarre, but this well-cast movie overall can bring plenty of laughs. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” had its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

Directed by Eric Appel (who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Yankovic), “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” even has a parody biopic voiceover, with Diedrich Bader as an unseen and unidentified narrator saying things in a deep voice and overly serious tone. The movie has the expected childhood flashbacks, which are moderately amusing. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” doesn’t really pick up steam until it gets to depicting the adult Yankovic. (For the purposes of this review, the real Yankovic will be referred to by his last name, while the Al Yankovic character in the movie will be referred to as Al.)

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” begins in the mid-1980s, by showing the adult Al in his 20s (played by Radcliffe) being rushed into a hospital emergency room, where he is attended to by a doctor (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda). The voiceover narrator says solemnly: “Life is like a parody of your favorite song. Just when you think you know all the words … surprise! You don’t know anything.” Why is Al in a hospital emergency room? The movie circles back to this scene later, to explain why.

After this scene in the hospital emergency room, the movie flashes back to Al’s childhood with Al (played by Richard Aaron Anderson), at about 9 or 10 years old, who considered himself to be a misfit in his own household. Born in 1959, Al grew up as an only child in the Los Angeles suburb of Lynwood, California. Al’s cranky father Nick (played by Toby Huss) works in a factory, and he expects Al to also become a factory worker when Al is an adult. Al’s loving mother Mary (played by Julianne Nicholson) is somewhat supportive of Al’s artistic interests, but she lives in fear of Nick, who has a nasty temper.

Nick openly mocks Al’s dreams to be a songwriter. One day during a meal at the family’s dining room table, Al’s parents listen to Al change the words of the gospel hymn “Amazing Grace” to “Amazing Grapes.” Nick is infuriated and says that this song parody is “blasphemy.” Mary tells Al that he should stop being himself. Feeling misunderstood, Al takes comfort in listening to his favorite radio shows, including those by his idol Dr. Demento.

Something happens that changes the course of Al’s life: An accordion salesman (played by Thomas Lennon) comes knocking on the Yankovic family’s door. Nick isn’t home at the time, but Al and Mary are there. Al is immediately dazzled by the accordion for sale, which is actually not shiny and new, but rather previously owned and worn-out. Al feels an instant connection to the music that comes out of this unusual instrument.

Al begs his mother to buy the accordion for him. Mary usually goes along with whatever Nick wants. (Nick wants Al to give up any dreams of being a musician.) But this time, Mary goes against what her husband wishes, and she secretly buys the accordion for Al. However, Mary has a condition for buying this accordion: Al must hide the accordion and only play the accordion when Nick isn’t there. Al agrees to this rule and becomes a skilled accordion player.

As a teenager, Al (played by David Bloom) is considered nerdy but likeable. His outlook on life begins to change when he plays the accordion at a house party full of kids from his high school. The response he gets is enthusiastic and full of praise. It’s the first time that Al feels outside validation for his accordion playing, and it gives him the confidence to decide that he will definitely be a musician and songwriter. Things turn sour at home though, when Nick finds out about the accordion and destroys it in a fit of anger.

After graduating from high school, Al moves to Los Angeles, where he lives with three guys who are close to his age: Jim (played by Jack Lancaster), Steve (played by Spencer Treat Clark) and Bermuda (played by Tommy O’Brien), whose interests are mainly dating women and partying. Al’s roommates encourage him to pursue his dreams, even though Al is constantly being rejected when he auditions for rock bands that have no interest in having an accordion player. (The movie has some comedic montages of these rejections.)

Al’s roommates aren’t fully aware of his talent for parodies until Al does an impromptu parody of The Knack’s 1979 hit “My Sharona” and turns it into his parody song “My Balogna” when he looks at some bologna in the kitchen. The roommates are so impressed that they volunteer to be his band members and encourage Al to make a recording demo that he can send to record companies, with the hope that he can get a record deal.

Al’s demo tape finds its way to brothers Tony Scotti (played by the real Yankovic) and Ben Scotti (played by Will Forte), who own Scotti Bros. Records. Tony and younger brother Ben (who are portrayed as shallow and mean-spirited music executives) are very dismissive of Al at first and don’t think a song like “My Balogna” could be a hit. Even though “My Balogna” has been getting some local radio airplay (including be a big hit on Southern California radio’s “The Captain Buffoon Show”), Tony and his “yes man” brother Ben don’t think there’s demand on a national level for albums from an accordion-playing, parody singer/songwriter.

But then, Al meets his idol Doctor Demento (played by Rainn Wilson, in perfect casting), who thinks Al is very talented and offers to become Al’s mentor. Dr. Demento suggests that Al change his stage name to “Weird Al” Yankovic. Al gets live performance gigs, sometimes as the opening act for Dr. Demento in the early 1980s.

Al also does a recording called “I Love Rocky Road” (referring to Rocky Road ice cream), a parody of “I Love Rock’n’Roll,” a song originally recorded by The Arrows in 1976, and was made into a chart-topping hit by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts in 1981. “I Love Rocky Road” gets some airplay on local radio (including Dr. Demento’s show), and it becomes a popular song requested by audiences. Suddenly, the Scotti Brothers are interested in signing Al to their record label.

One of the best scenes in the movie is early in Al’s career, before he was famous, when he’s invited to a house party at Dr. Demento’s place. The party guests are a “who’s who” of eccentric celebrities, including Andy Warhol (played by Conan O’Brien), Alice Cooper (played by Akiva Schaffer), Salvador Dalí (played by Emo Phillips), Divine (played by Nina West), Tiny Tim (played by Demetri Martin), Gallagher (played by Paul F. Tompkins) and Pee Wee Herman (played by Jorma Taccone). Observant viewers will also notice uncredited actors portraying Elvira, Frank Zappa and Grace Jones at the party.

At this party, radio/TV personality Wolfman Jack (played by Jack Black, in a hilarious cameo) is skeptical of Al’s talent, and he tries to humiliate Al, by challenging Al to do an impromptu parody of Queen’s 1980 hit “Another One Bites the Dust.” Queen bassist John Deacon (played by David Dastmalchian), who wrote “Another One Bites the Dust,” is also at the party and wants to see how this aspiring artist will rework one of Queen’s biggest hits. Al rises to the challenge and comes up with the parody “Another One Rides the Bus,” which tells comedic tale about the frustrations of riding a bus. Al the earns the respect of Wolfman Jack, Deacon and other skeptics at the party. Other well-known comedians who make cameos in the movie include Quinta Brunson as Oprah Winfrey, Patton Oswalt as an unnamed heckler, Michael McKean as a nightclub emcee, Arturo Castro as Pablo Escobar and Seth Green as a radio DJ.

The rest of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” is a wild and wacky ride that shows Al’s ascent in the music business, but he succumbs to some of the pitfalls of fame. “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” adds a lot of fiction about Yankovic’s life when the movie starts going into its more unusual tangents. For example, in real life, Yankovic had one of his biggest hits in 1984 with “Eat It,” a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” But the movie puts a cheeky and offbeat twist on this part of Yankovic’s personal history, by making Al as the one to write the song first, and Michael Jackson “copied” the song by recording “Beat It,” without giving Al any songwriting credit.

Al’s dysfunctional romance with Madonna (played by Evan Rachel Wood) is also fabricated for the movie. (In real life, Yankovic says that he and Madonna never knew each other at all.) In the movie, Madonna and Al first meet sometime in 1983, when he’s a bigger star than she is, because she recently signed a deal to release her first album. Madonna is portrayed as an ambitious manipulator who had her sights set on Al after she found out that sales increase significantly for artists whose songs are parodied by Al.

Madonna and Al immediately begin a hot-and-heavy affair based mostly on lust. Madonna encourages Al to start abusing alcohol and acting like a difficult rock star. Al starts to alienate his bandmates/friends when he does things like show up late for rehearsals and act like an insufferable egomaniac. Madonna knows it’s easier to manipulate Al when he’s drunk, so she keeps him supplied with enough alcoholic drinks to keep him intoxicated.

It’s all part of Madonna’s plan to get Al to do a parody of one of her songs, so that her music sales can increase. (ln real life, Yankovic’s 1986 song “Like a Surgeon” was a parody of Madonna’s 1984 hit “Like a Virgin.”) But what Madonna, the Scotti Brothers and many other people didn’t expect was Al deciding that he was going to stop doing parodies and release an album of his own original songs. Al makes this decision after he accidentally takes LSD given to him by Dr. Demento, and Al has an epiphany that he has more to say to the world as a writer of his own original songs.

The movie has several moments that parody how superficial the entertainment industry can be, with the Madonna character being an obvious example of a showbiz leech. The Scotti Brothers characters are the epitome of greedy and fickle music executives who think they always know more than the artists signed to their record label. Al is portrayed as someone who enjoys his fame but also feels overwhelmed by it.

Even when with his fame and fortune, Al still craves the approval of his parents, who don’t really express that they are proud of him. At the height of Al’s success, he remained somewhat estranged from his parents. It’s a bittersweet part of the story that gives some emotional gravitas to this otherwise intentionally zany movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a scene in the movie where Al, who has won Grammys and is a headliner of sold-out arena shows, calls his mother Mary to tell her about some of his accomplishments, but her response is the equivalent of someone saying, “That’s nice, dear,” and not being very interested.

Radcliffe (who is much shorter in height than the real Yankovic) makes up for not having a physical resemblance to Yankovic by bringing his own character interpretation of the real person. It’s not an impersonation but more like a re-imagining of what Yankovic is in this often-fabricated cinematic version of his life. Wood also turns in a memorable performance as Madonna, which might remind people more of Madonna’s chewing-gum-smacking movie character Susan from 1985’s “Desperately Seeking Susan” than the real Madonna.

“Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the music. The movie has some entertaining concert scenes and gives some insight into Yankovic’s songwriting and recording experiences. If the movie has any flaws, it’s the Madonna storyline, which becomes a one-note joke and drags on for a little too long. And because the movie ends in 1985, it doesn’t include Yankovic’s post-1985 forays into starring in movies and TV shows, directing music videos for other artists, and becoming a children’s book author. However, the movie cheats a little in the timeline, because it includes Yankovic’s 1996 song “Amish Paradise,” which is a parody of Coolio’s 1995 hit “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

The last scene of “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” might be a little too abrupt or off-putting for some viewers. But it’s an example of how this movie doesn’t want to be a conventional biopic. Yankovic’s original song “Now You Know,” which was recorded for the movie and plays during the end credits, makes a lot of meta references to the movie that are an example of this comedy film’s quirky tone. Even with all the oddball antics in the movie, “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” succeeds in its message that good things can happen to people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

The Roku Channel will premiere “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story” on November 4, 2022.

2022 People’s Choice Awards: Harry Styles is the top nominee

October 26, 2022

Harry Styles (Photo by Francis Specker/CBS)

The following is a press release from E! and NBC:

[Editor’s note: Harry Styles is the top nominee, with six nominations. A complete list of nominations is at the end of the article.]

Today, NBC and E! announced the host and commencement of voting for the 2022 “People’s Choice Awards,” celebrating all forms of entertainment, chosen entirely by the people. Actor, comedian and “People’s Choice Awards” nominee Kenan Thompson will return to host the annual ceremony for the second consecutive year. Voting is now open and fans worldwide can vote for their favorite nominee in each of the 40 categories representing movies, television, music and pop culture. The 2022 “People’s Choice Awards” will air simultaneously on NBC and E! on Tuesday, December 6 at 9:00pm ET/PT from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA. “Live from E!: The 2022 People’s Choice Awards” will kick off the night with a red carpet special at 7:00pm ET/PT on E!.  

“I’m beyond excited to host the People’s Choice Awards again this year and celebrate the incredible talent and fans that this show unites,” says Kenan Thompson. “I’m so grateful to be nominated – shoutout to the fans and congrats to all the nominees. Get ready for round two!!”

“Last year, Kenan brought an irreplaceable energy to the ‘People’s Choice Awards.’ His enthusiasm and passion for pop culture and the fans was palpable and translated in the room and on-screen,” said Cassandra Tryon, SVP, Entertainment Live Events, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We can’t wait to welcome Kenan back and see what he has up his sleeve for this year’s show.”

This year, Thompson is nominated in the comedy TV Star category for “Saturday Night Live.” Thompson is an award-winning actor, comedian and producer best known for his work on “SNL” where he is currently in his 20th season as the longest-running cast member. A six-time Emmy Award nominee, Thompson has received four nominations for his acting work and won the Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2018 for the “SNL” song “Come Back, Barack.” For two seasons, Thompson executive produced and starred as the title character in the NBC comedy series “Kenan.” Thompson hosted the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2022 and was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“People’s Choice Awards” and “Live from E!: The 2022 People’s Choice Awards” are both produced by Den of Thieves with Executive Producers Jesse Ignjatovic, Evan Prager and Barb Bialkowski. 

Voting for the 2022 “People’s Choice Awards” runs today through Wednesday, November 9 at 11:59pm ET. Fans can either vote online at www.votepca.com or on Twitter. Additionally, votes cast on Turbo Tuesday, November 1 will count twice, equaling up to a maximum of 50 votes per day, per category, per voting method.  

Voting Methods

Online – www.votepca.com    

Twitter – Fans can send a public tweet or retweet and include one category hashtag and one corresponding nominee hashtag. 

*Votes will be aggregated and counted through our third-party vendor Telescope. 

See the full list of all 40 categories and nominees online at: https://www.eonline.com/news/1351289/2022-peoples-choice-awards-complete-list-of-nominees

Complete rules can be found at: https://votepca.com/rules 

Complete list of category and nominee hashtags can be found at: https://votepca.com/faqs 

Kenan Thompson is represented by UTA, Michael Goldman, and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein Lezcano Bobb & Dang.

The following is a complete list of nominations for the 2022 People’s Choice Awards:

THE MOVIE OF 2022
Bullet Train
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Elvis
Jurassic World Dominion
Nope
The Batman
Thor: Love and Thunder
Top Gun: Maverick

THE COMEDY MOVIE OF 2022
Fire Island
Hustle
Hocus Pocus 2
Marry Me
Senior Year
The Adam Project
The Lost City
Ticket To Paradise

THE ACTION MOVIE OF 2022
Black Adam
Bullet Train
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Jurassic World Dominion
The Batman
The Woman King
Thor: Love and Thunder
Top Gun: Maverick

THE DRAMA MOVIE OF 2022
Nope
Death on the Nile
Don’t Worry Darling
Elvis
Halloween Ends
Luckiest Girl Alive
Scream
Where the Crawdads Sing

THE MALE MOVIE STAR OF 2022
Brad Pitt, Bullet Train
Chris Hemsworth, Thor: Love and Thunder
Chris Pratt, Jurassic World Dominion
Daniel Kaluuya, Nope
Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam
Miles Teller, Top Gun: Maverick
Ryan Reynolds, The Adam Project
Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick

THE FEMALE MOVIE STAR OF 2022
Elizabeth Olsen, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile
Jennifer Garner, The Adam Project
Jennifer Lopez, Marry Me
Joey King, Bullet Train
Keke Palmer, Nope
Queen Latifah, Hustle
Viola Davis, The Woman King

THE DRAMA MOVIE STAR OF 2022
Austin Butler, Elvis
Daniel Kaluuya, Nope
Florence Pugh, Don’t Worry Darling
Gal Gadot, Death on the Nile
Harry Styles, Don’t Worry Darling
Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween Ends
Keke Palmer, Nope
Mila Kunis, Luckiest Girl Alive

THE COMEDY MOVIE STAR OF 2022
Adam Sandler, Hustle
Channing Tatum, The Lost City
Jennifer Garner, The Adam Project
Jennifer Lopez, Marry Me
Julia Roberts, Ticket To Paradise
Queen Latifah, Hustle
Ryan Reynolds, The Adam Project
Sandra Bullock, The Lost City

THE ACTION MOVIE STAR OF 2022
Chris Hemsworth, Thor: Love and Thunder
Chris Pratt, Jurassic World Dominion
Dwayne Johnson, Black Adam
Elizabeth Olsen, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Joey King, Bullet Train
Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick
Viola Davis, The Woman King
Zöe Kravitz, The Batman

THE SHOW OF 2022
Abbott Elementary
Better Call Saul
Grey’s Anatomy
House of the Dragon
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Saturday Night Live
Stranger Things
This Is Us

THE DRAMA SHOW OF 2022
Better Call Saul
Cobra Kai
Euphoria
Grey’s Anatomy
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Ozark
The Walking Dead
This Is Us

THE COMEDY SHOW OF 2022
Abbott Elementary
Black-ish
Only Murders in the Building
Never Have I Ever
Saturday Night Live
The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window
Young Rock
Young Sheldon

THE REALITY SHOW OF 2022
90 Day Fiancé: Before the 90 Days
Below Deck Sailing Yacht
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation
Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta
The Kardashians
The Real Housewives of Atlanta
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Selling Sunset

THE COMPETITION SHOW OF 2022
America’s Got Talent
American Idol
Dancing with the Stars
RuPaul’s Drag Race
The Bachelorette
The Masked Singer
Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls
The Voice

THE MALE TV STAR OF 2022
Dwayne Johnson, Young Rock
Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi
Ice-T, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Noah Schnapp, Stranger Things
Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead
Oscar Isaac, Moon Knight
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

THE FEMALE TV STAR OF 2022
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy
Kristen Bell, The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the
Window
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Never Have I Ever
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary
Selena Gomez, Only Murders in the Building

THE DRAMA TV STAR OF 2022
Ellen Pompeo, Grey’s Anatomy
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Norman Reedus, The Walking Dead
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Sydney Sweeney, Euphoria
Zendaya, Euphoria

THE COMEDY TV STAR OF 2022
Bowen Yang, Saturday Night Live
Dwayne Johnson, Young Rock
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Bell, The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the
Window
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Never Have I Ever
Quinta Brunson, Abbott Elementary
Selena Gomez, Only Murders in the Building
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-Ish

THE DAYTIME TALK SHOW OF 2022
The Ellen DeGeneres Show
Good Morning America
Live With Kelly and Ryan
The Drew Barrymore Show
The Jennifer Hudson Show
The Kelly Clarkson Show
The View
Today With Hoda and Jenna

THE NIGHTTIME TALK SHOW OF 2022
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Late Night With Seth Meyers
The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
The Late Late Show With James Corden
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen

THE COMPETITION CONTESTANT OF 2022
Charli D’Amelio, Dancing With the Stars
Chris Constantino/Bosco, RuPaul’s Drag Race
Gabby Windey, The Bachelorette
Mayyas, America’s Got Talent
Noah Thompson, American Idol
Selma Blair, Dancing With the Stars
Teyana Taylor, The Masked Singer
Willow Patterson/Willow Pill, RuPaul’s Drag Race

THE REALITY TV STAR OF 2022
Chrishell Stause, Selling Sunset
Garcelle Beauvais, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Kandi Burruss, The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Kenya Moore, The Real Housewives of Atlanta
Khloé Kardashian, The Kardashians
Kim Kardashian, The Kardashians
Kyle Richards, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Jersey Shore: Family Vacation

THE BINGEWORTHY SHOW OF 2022
Bridgerton
Bel-Air
Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Inventing Anna
Severance
The Bear
The Boys
The Thing About Pam

THE SCI-FI/FANTASY SHOW OF 2022
House of The Dragon
La Brea
Moon Knight
Obi-Wan Kenobi
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Stranger Things
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
The Umbrella Academy

THE MALE ARTIST OF 2022
Bad Bunny
Charlie Puth
Drake
Harry Styles
Jack Harlow
Kendrick Lamar
Luke Combs
The Weeknd

THE FEMALE ARTIST OF 2022
Beyoncé
Camila Cabello
Doja Cat
Lady Gaga
Lizzo
Megan Thee Stallion
Nicki Minaj
Taylor Swift

THE GROUP OF 2022
BTS
5 Seconds of Summer
BLACKPINK
Coldplay
Imagine Dragons
Måneskin
OneRepublic
Panic! At The Disco

THE SONG OF 2022
“About Damn Time,” Lizzo
“As It Was,” Harry Styles
“Break My Soul,” Beyoncé
“First Class,” Jack Harlow
“Hold My Hand,” Lady Gaga
“Me Porto Bonito,” Bad Bunny & Chencho Corleone
“Super Freaky Girl,” Nicki Minaj
“Wait For U,” Future Featuring Drake & Tems

THE ALBUM OF 2022
Dawn FM, The Weeknd
Growin’ Up, Luke Combs
Harry’s House, Harry Styles
Midnights, Taylor Swift
Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, Kendrick Lamar
Renaissance, Beyoncé
Special, Lizzo
Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny

THE COUNTRY ARTIST OF 2022
Carrie Underwood
Kane Brown
Kelsea Ballerini
Luke Combs
Maren Morris
Miranda Lambert
Morgan Wallen
Thomas Rhett

THE LATIN ARTIST OF 2022
Anitta
Bad Bunny
Becky G
Shakira
Karol G
Rauw Alejandro
Rosalía
Sebastián Yatra

THE NEW ARTIST OF 2022
Chlöe
Dove Cameron
GAYLE
Latto
Lauren Spencer-Smith
Muni Long
Saucy Santana
Steve Lacy

THE MUSIC VIDEO OF 2022
“Anti-Hero,” Taylor Swift
“As It Was,” Harry Styles
“Left And Right” (feat. Jung Kook of BTS), Charlie Puth
“Let Somebody Go,” Coldplay X Selena Gomez
“Oh My God,” Adele
“Pink Venom,” BLACKPINK
“PROVENZA,” KAROL G
“Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment),” BTS

THE COLLABORATION SONG OF 2022
“Left And Right,” Charlie Puth Featuring Jung Kook
“Bam Bam,” Camila Cabello Featuring Ed Sheeran
“Do We Have A Problem?” Nicki Minaj X Lil Baby
“Freaky Deaky,” Tyga X Doja Cat
“Hold Me Closer,” Elton John & Britney Spears
“Jimmy Cooks,” Drake Featuring 21 Savage
“Party,” Bad Bunny & Rauw Alejandro
“Sweetest Pie,” Megan Thee Stallion & Dua Lipa

THE CONCERT TOUR OF 2022
BTS PERMISSION TO DANCE ON STAGE
Bad Bunny: World’s Hottest Tour
Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever, The World Tour
Dua Lipa Future Nostalgia Tour
Ed Sheeran Tour
Harry Styles Love On Tour
LADY GAGA: The Chromatica Ball
Luke Combs: The Middle of Somewhere Tour

THE SOCIAL CELEBRITY OF 2022
Bad Bunny
Charlie Puth
Doja Cat
Lil Nas X
Lizzo
Reese Witherspoon
Selena Gomez
Snoop Dogg 

THE SOCIAL STAR OF 2022

Addison Rae
Bella Poarch
Brent Rivera
Charli D’Amelio
Jay Shetty
Khaby Lame
Mikayla Jane Nogueira
MrBeast
Noah Beck

THE COMEDY ACT OF 2022
Amy Schumer: Whore Tour
Chris Rock Ego Death World Tour 2022
David Spade: Nothing Personal 
Jo Koy: Live from the LA Forum
Kevin Hart: Reality Check
Steve Martin & Martin Short You Won’t Believe What They Look Like Today
Wanda Sykes – Stand Out: An LGBTQ+ Celebration
Whitney Cummings – Jokes

THE GAME CHANGER OF 2022
Chloe Kim
LeBron James
Megan Rapinoe
Nathan Chen
Rafael Nadal
Russell Wilson
Serena Williams
Steph Curry

THE POP PODCAST OF 2022
Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain
Archetypes
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Call Her Daddy
Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend
Not Skinny But Not Fat
SmartLess
Why Won’t You Date Me? With Nicole Byer

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