Cuban-American Director Premieres David Sedaris Film Adaptation at Sundance

Cuban-American Director Premieres David Sedaris Film Adaptation at Sundance

Writer and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez will premiere his second feature film at the Sundance Film Festival this coming Saturday. The Cuban-American director’s latest film “C.O.G.” is the first movie ever produced based on a David Sedaris essay, with his permission.

Entertainment Weekly describes how Alvarez connected with Sedaris:

Hollywood had been knocking on Sedaris’s door for years, and he’d always turned suitors away. But Alvarez, whose promising first film, Easier with Practice, was based on a 2006 GQ article by another public-radio raconteur Davy Rothbart, took a more personal approach: he went to a Sedaris book signing. “I waited in line with everyone for him to sign my book after he read,” says Alvarez. “I tried not to be aggressive, but I gave him the a copy of my first film and said there were some things I’d like to talk to him about. I was incredibly anxious about it, but fortunately, he really liked the movie.”

They began exchanging emails, with Sedaris asking Alvarez why he specifically wanted “C.O.G.” — which stands for Child Of God — an essay from Naked, Sedaris’s best-selling 1997 collection. “It’s not like I went through every Sedaris story and tried to find the one to make into a movie,” says the 29-year-old, who also wrote the screenplay. “I liked this story. Had he not written it, and it was another writer, I would still have been incredibly interested and tried to make it into a film. There’s a coming-of-age aspect to it that I felt was really unique and particular.”

Sedaris has yet to see the film. He’ll see it for the first time at the Sundance premiere this coming Saturday.

“C.O.G.” will premiere at Sundance on January 20th, 2013. All five screenings of his film are sold out online and only have “wait-list only” availability.

GQ Publishes ‘Hottest Women’ List and Ranks Women By Race

GQ Publishes 'Hottest Women' List and Ranks Women By Race

There are still 987 years left in this millennium but the editors of GQ just unveiled “The 100 Sexiest Women of the Millennium.”

Beyoncé Knowles tops the list and is followed by other notable actresses and models like Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston and Sienna Miller.

But here’s where the list is creating a stir: a handful of women were categorized by their ethnicity or nationality.

  • “Hottest Indian Chick”: Freida Pinto
  • “Hottest Pregnant Sri Lankan”: M.I.A
  • “Hottest Italian Chick”: Monica Belluci
  • “Hottest Chinese Chick”: Zhang Ziyi (sometimes credited as Ziyi Zhang)

Interestingly enough, the magazine included black and Latina celebrities on the list but they were not identified by their ethnicity or nationality.

For example, Beyoncé was “Miss Millennium” but not “Miss African-American Millennium. Eva Mendez, Halle Berry, Penélope Cruz, Rosario Dawson and Shakira are also included on the list with no mention of their nationality.

But when it came down to Freida Pinto she was labeled the “Hottest Indian Chick.”

“If the magazine were saying, ‘These are all the beautiful women from every country in the world’, that would be a bit different; that’s what the Miss Universe pageant is all about,” Ruth C. White told Yahoo’s “Shine” blog. White is an Associate Professor of Social Work in the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work at Seattle University.

“But by calling out certain women’s ethnicity and not others, what they’re implying is that these women are not beautiful simply because they’re beautiful; they’re only attractive within the context of their own ethnicity. This is qualifying their beauty and dismisses the idea that beauty comes in many different forms.”

Rosa Parks Statue to Be Added to the Capitol

Rosa Parks Statue to Be Added to the Capitol

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said today that a bronze, full-size statue of Rosa Parks will be installed in Washington, D.C. later this year. Parks will become the first African-American woman to have her own statue in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

The New York Times has more details:

Statuary Hall is ordinarily reserved for full-size statues from the states; each state sends two statues of its choosing to be put on display. The likeness of Ms. Parks was authorized by a special act of Congress in 2005; it represents the first commission by Congress for a full-size statue since the 1870s, according to the National Endowment for the Arts, which oversaw the design competition for the statue.

Issa Rae Has an Awkward Black Girl Moment With Katie Couric [Video]

Issa Rae Has an Awkward Black Girl Moment With Katie Couric [Video]

Issa Rae appeared on the “Katie” show on Thursday.

TAGS: Issa Rae TV

For Her Birthday, Michelle Obama Got a New Twitter Account (And New Bangs)

For Her Birthday, Michelle Obama Got a New Twitter Account (And New Bangs)

So this is a brilliant way of ensuring your new Twitter account get followers: unveil it on your birthday and show off your new hair cut.

Michelle Obama’s office debuted a new official Twitter account for her on Thursday with a tweet seeking well wishes for the first lady on her 49th birthday.

The First Lady’s other account, @MichelleObama, is run by President Obama’s campaign team and has more than 2.6 million followers but hasn’t consistently tweeted since the election.

An Argument to Bring ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ Back

An Argument to Bring 'All My Babies' Mamas' Back

On Tuesday the Oxygen Media group announced they were canceling a new show titled “All My Babies’ Mamas” that was centered around Atlanta-based rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children with 10 different women.

Oxygen Media made the decision after the online civil rights group ColorOfChange and a petition (that received more than 37,000 signatures) demanded the network cancel the show.

“The airing of a reality show like All My Babies’ Mamas would have reinforced many of the stereotypes about Black men and women that have power to influence public policy,” said’s Rashad Robinson in a statement. “Research shows that exploiting persistent racial stereotypes that marginalize Black Americans have real world consequences.”

Other folks are wondering, what if? What if ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’ wasn’t canceled? Would it be so bad?

Gene Demby poses this question on

If unconventional families — polygamists, huge broods, marginal celebrities — are a staple of the reality show genre, Babies’ Mamas would seem to fit neatly within those parameters. What if the show’s subjects were mostly concerned with mundane stuff like carpooling logistics and dance rehearsals? Isn’t it possible that Babies’ Mamas could have also granted some humanity to real baby’s mamas and complicated some simplistic, ugly stereotypes about them?

A spokesman for Shawty Lo told RumorFix the rapper plans to fight his show’s cancellation with a petition of his own. Lo has received 123,000 e-mails in support of the show, his representative told RumorFix. 

A petition urging the Oxygen Network “Put Shawty Lo and Baby Mamas back on the air!” had 703 signatures at the time this story was published.

Visit NPR’s Monkey See blog to get Demby’s full analysis.

10 Sundance Festival Films You Should Know About

10 Sundance Festival Films You Should Know About

The Sundance Film Festival opens today in Park City, Utah. The 11-day festival will showcase 119 feature films and documentaries that range from a drama based on Oscar Grant’s last 24-hours to a short film that follows real life high-rise window washers in Chicago.

In conjunction with the start of the festival today, the Screening Room YouTube channel will showcase 12 short films from the 2013 Sundance Short Film program.

There are also a number of Q&A sessions and other panel discussions with directors that will be live-streamed on the Sundance website. Visit to see the week’s schedule along with an archive of past discussion.

In the meantime take a look at the 10-films below that you’ll undoubtedly hear about throughout the year.

(Film descriptions provided by

“Linsanity” / (Director: Evan Leong) 

Jeremy Lin came from a humble background to make an unbelievable run in the NBA. State high school champion, all-Ivy League at Harvard, undrafted by the NBA and unwanted there: his story started long before he landed on Broadway.

“FRUITVALE” / (Director: Ryan Coogler) 

Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers, who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

Director Ryan Coogler makes an extraordinary directorial debut with this soulful account of the real-life event that horrified the nation. Featuring radiant performances by Melonie Diaz and Michael B. Jordan as Grant, a young man whose eyes were an open window into his soul, Fruitvale offers a barometer reading on the state of humanity in American society today.

“PARAISO” / (Director: Nadav Kurtz) 

Three immigrant window cleaners risk their lives every day rappelling down some of Chicago’s tallest sky-scrapers. Paraíso reveals the danger of their job and what they see on the way down.

The ‘Stop Saying These Things to Asians’ Video

The 'Stop Saying These Things to Asians' Video

Comedian Eliot Chang’s latest video is a public service announcement. He’s dubbed it the “Please Stop Saying These Things to Asians” video.

Born in NY, Chang is now based in LA, and travels regularly between both coasts for projects.

ICE Raids Wrong Home [Video]

ICE Raids Wrong Home [Video]

An Oklahoma family is still shaken up after ICE agents entered their home at 5:30am on Saturday and handcuffed every member of the family including the father, mother, their 15-year-old daughter, and 18-year-old son.

But 5-minutes later—with guns drawn and the entire family handcuffed—ICE agents realized they had the wrong house.

“I have thousands of questions running through my head asking why this happened because this is something that just damages you profoundly,” Susana Estrada told Spanish-language news station KTUZ-TV.

An ICE spokesperson sent the following response to KTQV News 9:

On Jan. 8 at about 6 a.m., officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and District 21 Task Force in Oklahoma executed a search warrant issued by a District Court judge at a Moore, Okla., residence.

Shortly after entering the residence, ICE officers interviewed the alleged target and noted a discrepancy between the residence owner’s social security number and that of the target of the investigation.

Officers conducted an on-site electronic fingerprint comparison which confirmed that the residence owner was not the target of the investigation, even though they both have the same name.

Officers apologized and departed the residence. ICE immediately began investigating this incident, which is ongoing. The investigation into the original target is also ongoing.

You can watch the Spanish-language news report below.

Oregon Will Grant DACA-Approved DREAMers Driver’s Licenses

Oregon DMV will accept applications for driver licenses, instruction permits and identification cards as of January 16 from Oregon residents approved for the federal “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA) program who have been issued immigration Form I-766.

The Oregonian has more details:

Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services will now accept deferred action work permits, which are renewable every two years, as proof of lawful presence in the United States. Driver’s licenses or identification cards will have expiration dates that match those on the individual’s immigration form.

The decision, released Wednesday morning and effective immediately, comes after DMV officials said last month that they would not issue driver’s licenses for those program recipients. They retracted that decision a few days later in favor of continuing their discussion with the Oregon Department of Justice about the issue.

Applicants must meet all Oregon requirements for driving privileges and ID cards, including proof of identity, age, residence address, passage of tests, and payment of fees. DMV electronically verifies Social Security numbers and federal immigration documents.

Arizona, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and North Carolina have declined to issue licenses young immigrants approved under the DACA program.

Sotomayor and Thomas Benefited from Affirmative Action, But Split Starkly on Issue

Sotomayor and Thomas Benefited from Affirmative Action, But Split Starkly on Issue

As we await a ruling on affirmative action in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas, CBS’ “60 Minutes” looks at the two Supreme Court Justices of color whose lives were influenced by affirmative action.

“60 Minutes” has interviewed both Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas on the subject of affirmative action and finds they couldn’t disagree more.

Why compare two Supreme Court justices in this week’s Overtime video? Because Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas are the two justices who “benefited” from affirmative action — they both went to Yale Law School in the 1970s when an aggressive affirmative action policy was in place — and they have both spoken candidly on 60 Minutes (her, this week; him, in 2007) about the role that affirmative action played in their lives. The trouble is: they couldn’t disagree more.

“He resents affirmative action. She embraces affirmative action,” says 60 Minutes producer Henry Schuster. “These two people who should have so much in common suddenly become the yin and yang of this experience.”

The Supreme Court’s decision in the affirmative action case Fisher v. UT is expected this Spring.

Obama’s Gun Control Plan Could Worsen School-to-Prison Pipeline

Obama's Gun Control Plan Could Worsen School-to-Prison Pipeline

Tucked into President Obama’s gun control proposal is a benign and seemingly uncontroversial call to improve school safety by staffing up schools with more police officers and counselors. It’s one of the big umbrella areas of his plan, announced today. But that initial policy proposal has civil rights advocates worried that instead of making for “more nurturing school climates,” as Obama says he wants to work toward, he’ll be exacerbating the school-to-prison pipeline, another issue which Obama has worked proactively to address.

Obama is calling on Congress to fund schools to hire up to 1,000 more counselors, psychologists, social workers, and school resource officers, among other initiatives. While the name “school resource officers” is a rather benign term, they are actually typically sheriff’s deputies dispatched to patrol schools. As experience shows, more law enforcement officers do not necessarily make for safer school environments, and in fact can contribute to dynamics which push students out of school. As law enforcement officers who are called on to serve a disciplinary function in schools, they are a central part of the school-to-prison pipeline machine, an apparatus so-named for the ratcheting up of school discipline in the nation which has funneled youth, a disproportionate number of them black and Latino, out of schools and into the criminal justice system.

“We have several concerns about the administration incentivizing police departments and school districts to put more police officers in schools,” said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office.

Cuban-American Priest Will Deliver Inaugural Benediction

Cuban-American Priest Will Deliver Inaugural Benediction

The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration. León replaces the Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor who withdrew from the ceremony after audio surfaced of him delivering an anti-gay sermon in the mid-1990s.

León pastors Saint John’s Church, an Episcopal parish just across Lafayette Park from the White House. León immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1961 at age 12 as one of the “Peter Pan children,” according to his bio on the St. John’s Church website.

The Huffington Post points out León’s church welcomes gay members:

Leon’s own parish is known for welcoming openly gay members. The church, which has openly gay, non-celibate priests and has had a gay bishop, announced this summer that it would bless same-sex partnerships and ordain transgender priests. This month, the Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal church, announced that it would also begin same-sex marriage ceremonies.

León’s benediction will mark his second appearance on the inauguration stage. In 2005 he delivered the invocation for the President George W. Bush’s second inauguration. 

León becomes the third Latino to officially participate in the swearing-in ceremonies. Earlier this month PIC announced Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will be the 2013 inaugural poet. Also Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will administer the oath of office for Vice President Joe Biden.

George Zimmerman’s Attorneys Receive Trayvon Martin’s School Records

The legal team for George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin, has received a copy of the 17-year-old’s school records, the Orlando Sentinel reported Tuesday.

“We are entitled to receive the school records because some information in Trayvon Martin’s file could be relevant in the defense of George Zimmerman,” the website for Zimmerman’s legal defense announced today.

The news comes after both the state prosecutors and attorneys for the Martin family objected to the request for the records, arguing that they were irrelevant to the case. But Zimmerman’s legal team appealed the decision and in the end prevailed.

“Though it sounds horrible to come before you and say, ‘I really want to go after the victim’s reputation,’ that is simply what the Sixth Amendment tells us we have to do,” Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s attorney, told a judge last year.

Quvenzhané Wallis Tells André Leon Talley She’s Not Wearing a Long Dress to the Oscars

Quvenzhané Wallis Tells André Leon Talley She's Not Wearing a Long Dress to the Oscars

Vogue’s contributing editor André Leon Talley sat down with “Beasts of the Southern Wild” actress Quvenzhané Wallis to talk fashion this past weekend… except she didn’t really didn’t want to talk fashion.

Last week, Wallis became the youngest actress ever nominated for an Oscar in the best-actress category. She told Talley she’s not interested in wearing a long gown to the Oscars because she might trip on it. Duuuuh!

NRA Criticizes Obama Because Daughters Are Protected by Secret Service

NRA Criticizes Obama Because Daughters Are Protected by Secret Service

On Monday the National Rifle Association (NRA) released a new commercial attacking Obama — and citing his children to do so. The 35-second ad describes the President as an “elitist hypocrite” for having his daughters Sasha and Malia under Secret Service protection and asks why he’s “being skeptical about putting armed security” in other schools.

The group, who opposes any laws reducing gun violence, asks “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” because Obama’s “kids are protected by armed guards at their school.”

The White House declined to address the accusations in the ad, but Obama’s former press secretary and senior adviser, Robert Gibbs responded to the ad on MSNBC, calling it “disgusting on many levels.”

“It’s also just stupid,” said Gibbs. “This reminds me of an ad that somebody made at about 2 o’clock in the morning after one too many drinks, and no one stopped it in the morning.”

DREAMer Erika Andiola Tells Arizona Lawmakers: ‘You Can End Our Family’s Pain’

Immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola penned an open letter to her Arizona senators, Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, urging them to defend immigrant families after experiencing the horrors of the immigration detention firsthand last Thursday. Media-savvy and well-connected, Andiola was able to win rapid release of her mother Maria Arreola and Heriberto Andiola after they were detained by immigration agents last week. But immediately upon their release, Andiola used her unique position to highlight just how common and unjust her family’s brush with near-deportation was.

Andiola, who cofounded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and also serves as the government relations director for the D.C.-based undocumented youth lobbying organization DRM Capitol Group, wrote to McCain and Flake:

Thursday night I heard a banging knock at the door. I looked through the window and immigration agents asked me to open the door because they were conducting an “investigation”. They asked for Maria, my mother, and as soon she stepped out they abruptly pulled her with force and handcuffed her in front of me and Angel, my 16 year old brother. They also detained my older brother for no cause. Angel pointed out to them that they needed to take her medications because of her cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure. They laughed at his face told and ignored him. I felt helpless. Under this horrific scenario I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted to run and pull them both away from them but I couldn’t.

I spent an entire night crying and lonely. At every corner of my house, my mother and brother’s touches and memories were there. The most important people in my life had been taken from me.

Watch Denzel Have to Tell Everyone At Golden Globes That’s His Daughter, Not His Wife

Denzel Washington took his 22-year old daughter as his date to the Golden Globes on Sunday. The father-and-daughter duo walked down the red carpet holding hands leading everyone to assume he was with his 62-year-old wife.

The pair apparently had so many red carpet reporters confuse them for a couple that by the time Washington got to E!’s Ryan Seacrest the “Flight” actor just started the interview by saying “IT’S NOT MY WIFE, PAULETTA.”

Gawker points out folks on Twitter were also confused. Several respected news agencies (including the New York Times) also issued corrections after they identified Washington’s daughter as his wife Pauletta.

Washington took his daughter Olivia to the Golden Globes and introduced her as a “budding young actress.”Olivia currently attends New York University, where she is studying acting.

Last year, Washington spoke candidly about the advice he gives his daughter as she enters the entertainment industry as a black woman.

“I say, ‘You’re black, you’re a woman, and you’re dark-skinned at that, so you have to be a triple/quadruple threat,’” Washington explained in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.

Washington went on to say he tells his daughter to strive to be like Viola Davis.

(h/t Gawker)

Evangelical Leaders Say Jesus Would Want Immigration Reform

Evangelical Leaders Say Jesus Would Want Immigration Reform

The Evangelical Immigration Table launched a campaign on Monday to encourage Christians to think about immigration from a distinctly biblical perspective. The coalition says their “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge will reach out to political leaders and more than 100,000 churches.

The challenge invites individual evangelical Christians, church congregations, and legislators to read 40 verses of Scripture that relate to immigration and to pray that these passages will evoke the political will to create a just immigration system that better reflects Christian values.

“Loving God and Loving Neighbors is the same as Loving Immigrants. They are all symbiotically related,” Dave Gibbons, Pastor and Founder of Newsong Church said in a statement.

(h/t TPM)

WashPost Asks Black Men What They Fear, Love and Dream Of [Video]

WashPost Asks Black Men What They Fear, Love and Dream Of [Video]

Today the Washington Post released the latest short film in a three-part series that explores the lives of black men in the U.S. The series titled “BrotherSpeak” asks black men about their fears, loves and dreams.

The second installment of “BrotherSpeak” released today focuses on Love. The video includes interviews with a former all-star running back from the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins; an internationally renowed pastor from Prince George’s County , MD; a nationally syndicated columnist; a hip-hop artist and educator, a Baltimore pastor and a community advocate.

Chris Jenkins describes the project on The Root DC: > Six years ago, The Washington Post embarked on an unprecedented project: a several-months-long journey exploring the lives of black men. Through pictures and one-on-one interviews, in-depth stories and award-winning video, The Post’s series, titled “Being a Black Man”, revealed the sometimes complex lives of African American men.

Today, The Post, in cooperation with the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, is starting another project that explores the experiences of black men in America. Titled “BrotherSpeak,” the three-part video series is another chance to hear from the black men about what matters most to them. For the series, we asked a range of black men to discuss three words: Fear, love and dream. Each video focuses on one word.

We chose these words because we believe they represent fundamental human emotions and impulses that many black men’s experiences provide them a unique relationship with and perspective on. The point of our series is to highlight the three dimensions of these qualities as they relate to black men, while also touching on the universal human qualities illustrated by each. We believe a discussion of these words can help round out the image of black men in popular culture and touch spaces in our experience rarely explored by mainstream media.

To read more about the series and the first part of the series on Fear visit the

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