“Dear White People” grossed $344,136 at the box office this weekend. Amid all the chatter about the film’s national debut at 11 theaters around the country, there’s this interesting tidbit from Indiewire:
“We created an event with ‘Dear White People’ via continuous social media engagement, complemented with traditional PR and college outreach that attracted a young and diverse audience to theaters,” Roadside’s Howard Cohen said. “Exit polls showed 77% of the audience was in the 21 to 39 age range, with 29% between the ages of 21 to 24 — younger than the typical specialty-film audience.”
The film is based on the experience of college students and has a plot that’s literally ripped from any number of race-fueled campus headlines in recent years, so the fact that it attracted younger viewers is no surprise. It expands to 350 theaters in the top 75 markets on October 24th. Stay tuned for more.
Justin Simien, the director of “Dear White People,” stopped by to chat with Stephen Colbert this week to talk about his debut film, which is in theaters nationwide this month. It’s a fun segment — Simien talks about the premise of his film and is noticeably unimpressed by Colbert’s black friends.
Erykah Badu, who’s known for doing silly things in public, performed incognito last Friday in Times Square. It wasn’t quite silly, according to the artist. “I kinda always wanted to see what it would be like to sing for money on the streets,” she said in the self-made iPhone video.
She wound up taking home $3.40. New York City just ain’t right.
Archie Panjabi, the actress who plays the gun-toting, ass-kicking investigator Kalinda Sharma in the CBS drama “The Good Wife,” has signed on to headline a new pilot with 20th Century Fox TV. From Deadline:
Panjabi had been thinking about moving on from the show for a while. “Archie is an amazing actress who helped build Kalinda from the ground up as an enigmatic, powerful, and sexy character,” The Good Wife creators Robert and Michelle King said in a statement. “It’s been a pleasure to write for her, and we’ll be sad to see her go; but we still have her for the rest of Season 6, so let’s not exhaust our good-byes yet. We look forward to meeting all the wonderful new characters Archie brings to the screen. But either way, we’re keeping the boots.”
Panjabi won a 2010 Emmy for her role on the show, becoming one of the most recognizable actress of South Asian descent in Hollywood. The new pilot is tentatively set for the spring or fall of 2015.
Elizabeth Peña, the Cuban-American actress who starred in several treasured films and on the hit show “Modern Family,” died on Wednesday in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was only 55 years old.
Before “Modern Family,” Peña was known for her memorable roles in “La Bamba,” “Tortilla Soup,” and as a voice actress in “The Incredibles.” In a moving memorial at Latino Review, Peña’s nephew, the writer and director Mario-Francisco Robles, remembered his aunt’s accomplishments:
I didn’t call her Elizabeth, or Liz, or Leechy. She wasn’t Aunt, Auntie, Tia, or Titi. To me…she was Ñaña. That was the name I assigned my aunt when I was just a baby, and it’s the name I continued to refer to her as when I visited her in Los Angeles last week. She was our star. She was my star. We celebrated her triumphs. We sweated through her struggles. As a family, even when we didn’t always talk, we would all do whatever we could for one another. When I got married 3 years ago, despite their being some logistical hurdles, she flew herself, her husband, and both her kids to attend my special night in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Dancing with her, my uncle, and my cousins under the stars that night is a memory I’ve always cherished, and it’s now one that I’ll have to hold onto for the rest of my life.
The finalists for this year’s National Book Awards were announced Wednesday morning and a handful of writers of color — and books about issues important to communities of color — made the list. Here are six to watch out for, running the gamut from fiction and non-fiction to poetry and young-adult literature.
In fiction, Rabih Alameddine’s “An Unnecessary Woman” follows protagonist Aaliya Sohbi who lives in Beirut and is caught in a mid-life crisis. She’s unconventional — no husband, no kids and not particularly aligned with any religion — but she’s haunted by memories of the Lebanese Civil War. Author Alameddine, is a Lebanese-American writer who was born in Jordan and migrated to California in his teens.
America is rife with war stories from Afghanistan, but reporter Anand Gopal’s debut book, “No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban and the War Through Afghan Eyes,” provides an intimate account of the conflict from the Afghani perspective. Gopal previously served as an Afghanistan correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor and is currently a fellow at the New America Foundation.
In “Citizen: An American Lyric,” Jamaica-born poet Claudia Rankine recounts everyday microaggressions to document the stress of being black in America. Rankine is currently an English professor at Pomona College and she’s previously won fellowships from the Academy of American Poetry and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In his latest collection of poetry, Fred Moten tries to umpack the the musicality of James Brown and William Parker. Currently a professor of English at the University of California at Riverside, Moten is also the co-founder of a small press called Three Count Pour.
Steve Sheinkin’s “The Port Chiago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights” revisits the 1944 case of 244 mostly black sailors who protested unsafe working conditions and the 50 who were later charged with mutiny. The men had good reason to take a stand: On July 17 of that year, more than 300 sailors at the segregated Navy base of Port Chicago, California, were killed in a massive explosion.
With “Brown Girl Dreaming,” a series of childhood poems, author Jacqueline Woodson offers up a searing take on growing up in South Carolina in the 1960s and 70s. Woodson has also won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults and the Coretta Scott King Award. She lives in Brooklyn.
The awards will be announced on November 19 in New York City. You can also listen to NPR’s announcement of the finalists here:
Houston running back Arian Foster decided to make a statement before Thursday night’s matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. During pre-game warm-ups, Foster wore a T-shirt that read “Stand Strong St. Louis” on the front and “RIP Mike Brown” on the back.
It was one of the few on-field statements made by NFL players in the aftermath of Brown’s killing and protests in Ferguson. During the NFL’s pre-season, members of Washington, D.C.’s NFL team made the “hands up” gesture that’s become synonymous with protests in the St. Louis suburb.
In the latest public discussion as part of her scholar-in-residence series at The New School, bell hooks talked with Cornel West about what it means to be what she called a “dissident intellectual.” At about the 46:11 mark, West says, “When I called [Obama] a black puppet of Wall Street oligarchs, they didn’t accent ‘Wall Street oligarchs,’ they just talked about the puppetry.”
Feminist theorist bell hooks is back at The New School for another week-long residency that includes public discussions with high-profile folks of color. On Tuesday, she sat down with actress Laverne Cox for a wide-ranging conversation about feminism, pop culture and Cox’s hit series, “Orange is the New Black.”
TV on the Radio is getting ready to drop a new album later this fall, and this week the band released a couple of new videos for the tracks “Happy Idiot” and “Careful You.” The new album is called “Seeds” and will be out on November 18. It’s their first project since their bassist/producer Gerard Smith passed away in April of 2011. And it’ll be their first since singer Tunde Adebimpe confirmed the band had left Interscope (their label since 2006’s “Return to Cookie Mountain”), according to Pitchfork.
Childish Gambino is known for using the Internet in unconventional ways. He rose form being an actor and comedian to a well-known rapper largely thanks to a few well-recieved mixtapes, but from there it gets pretty experimental. Last year he dropped a film that played in a continuous loop on Ustream months before releasing his second studio album, “Because the Internet.” In an interview, he said that motivation for the album came from the fact that “now that we have the internet it’s easier to [communicate] than ever before, but it’s also leaving us really lost and afraid.”
So last Friday, when Gambino released a new project called “STN MTN/Kauai” without any real warning, fans were thrilled.
The first half of the project is a free mixtape named after his hometown in Georgia. The second part is available on iTunes. But he also left it up to fans to find a secret track, a remix of his song “3005.”
kauai is out on itunes and spotify and it leaked and yeah. the 3005 remix should help with the secret track
The version of the song on “STN MTN/Kauai” was largely instrumental, but fans later learned that the vocals were hidden in Gambino’s becausetheinter.net original screenplay, buried within the coding on the page. Long story short, one Reddit user did the work of untangling the mystery. Here’s the finished product:
Fans of the St. Louis Symphony got quite a surprise over the weekend when a flash mob interrupted a performance on Saturday to demand justice for Mike Brown, the 18-year-old black man who was shot and killed by white police officer Darren Wilson in nearby Ferguson on August 9.
Just as the conductor took the stage after intermission, a middle-aged black man sang, “What side are you on, friend; what side are you on?”
The St. Louis American, the city’s African-American newspaper, captured the scene on video:
Acts of civil disobedience have continued in the St. Louis area, with local and national organizers planning several weeks of resistance through a project called Ferguson October.
Flying Lotus’ new album “You’re Dead!” comes out next week on October 7. This week, he dropped the video for his song “Never Catch Me” with Kendrick Lamar, which chronicles the gripping tale of a young black boy and girl who emerge from their caskets and dance away from their own funeral. It’s dark, but eerily hopeful. Watch.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Flying Lotus talks about how his preoccupation with the afterlife informed his latest project.
With this album, I was trying to come in at that moment and navigate the different thoughts that might go through your mind. Maybe being in disbelief that you died. Maybe having regrets about things that you’d done in the past. Maybe finding comfort in dying and coming to grips with the fact that we never die—that’s the overall message in the end.
Andre “3000” Benjamin paid a visit to David Letterman this week to talk about his starring role in the Jimi Hendrix biopic “All is By My Side.” The rapper/actor admitted to doubting himself during filming. “Who plays Hendrix?” he asks Letterman. But by most accounts, Benjamin did a superb job in the role.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been cast as Griselda Blanco in “The Godmother,” an upcoming biopic on the life and death of the Colombian*-born drug queen, according to Deadline. News of Jones’ casting has kicked discussions about brownface into high gear, with many observers wondering aloud about why a Latina actress wasn’t chosen for the role instead.
“I’m sorry but what part of this casting makes any kind of sense? Come on Hollywood. AreThere NO LATIN actresses???” actress Yolanda Ross tweeted in reaction to the news.
Soraya Nadia McDonald sifts through the controversy over at the Washington Post, writing:
What’s more, according to McDonald, is that there are plenty of Latina actresses in Hollywood who could have been better fits for the project:
Zeta-Jones is called upon to be Colombian when there are more visible Latina actresses working in Hollywood than ever — thanks in no small part to executive producers such as Eva Longoria and Salma Hayek. Hayek was responsible for bringing “Ugly Betty,” the show based on the Colombian telanovela “Yo soy Betty, la fea,” to network television. And Longoria has really taken charge with her production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.
Aziz Ansari is taking an unusual approach to his comedy routines these days: he’s doing sociological research. In an interview with Camille Cannon at Vegas Seven, the comedian talked about why the research is crucial to his new routine and book, “Modern Romance.”
In addition to Modern Romance being the subject and title of your stand-up tour, you’re writing a book about it. What’s that process like?
It’s ambitious. I’ve been doing [stand-up] about dating and stuff, and I started meeting with sociologists and academics and got into these interesting conversations about dating and technology and how relationships have changed over the last few generations. I’ve been working with sociologist [and Going Solo author] Eric Klinenberg for more than a year. We interviewed hundreds of people and a bunch of notable academics. I don’t think there’s been anything similar to it from a comedian. It’s a really funny book, but it’s also really interesting, and I think people will dig it.
You’re also crowdsourcing on Reddit, and you promote a link to that thread on Twitter. Does it ever feel super meta to conduct research on technology and relationships using social media?
I never even thought about that until you said it, but that’s true. It’s weird. When we did these focus groups for the book, we’d have like 30 people in different cities, and we’d speak to them for an hour or so and then we started thinking, “Oh, it’d be great if we could get people from other parts of the country, because we can’t physically be everywhere.” With Reddit, you’re kind of everywhere. Everyone participates.
One week after the premiere of her new show “Black-ish,” actress Tracee Ellis Ross sat down for an interview on Larry King Live with guest host Janet Mock. “I think this is a show that needs to be on the air,” Ross said. “I think the opportunity of a show like this is that the world gets to see a family being a family and that raising children is very similar for everyone.”
And speaking of family, Ross opens up about growing up with her own famous mom, Diana Ross. “What the world knows of my mother honestly does not hold a candle to who she is as a mom.”