The Biggest Music Cruise Now Sailing the Friendly Seas

image076MIAMI /PRNewswire/ — The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage is set to make history with an unprecedented music line up raising money to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The historic voyage will take place on Carnival Breeze, departing from Miami April 11-19, 2015. The customized eight-day itinerary includes visits to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan.

The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage will be hosted by renowned radio personality and philanthropist Tom Joyner and is the longest standing music themed and empowerment cruise. The exciting line-up for the 2015 cruise includes R. Kelly, Jennifer Hudson, Earth Wind & Fire, TLC, LL Cool J featuring DJ Z-Trip, Fantasia and many more! The concerts and entertainment have grown to include Fantastic ’90’s with New Jack Swing from Teddy Riley; Fantastic Motown with The Jacksons and The Temptations Review featuring Dennis Edwards; Ladies Night Hip Hop with Da Brat, Moni Love, Trina and Lady of Rage; Comedy from George Wallace, Don “DC’ Curry, and Rodney Perry.

Ford Motor Company is returning as presenting sponsor of the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage. Ford, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. Ford continues to partner with Tom Joyner on initiatives like Fantastic Voyage and Ford HBCU Community Challenge to help students go further. Ford will display two vehicles on the ship culminating in giving a vehicle away to one Tom Joyner Morning Show listener and sponsor many exciting events on the voyage including main stage concerts.

Tom Joyner Foundation started its annual voyage to raise money for HBCUs in 1999 as the first to ever charter and program an entire ship. Now in its 16th year, The Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage is the only charter that promotes philanthropy in an environment that is fun and uplifting.

American Idol Finalist David Anthony Debuts New Single “Break”

 

 

 

 

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David Hernandez professionally known as David Anthony, gained national attention with his powerful voice and affable personality as an American Idol season 7 finalist. In addition to American Idol, David has showcased his talents on The Ellen Show, The Today Show and Teens Choice Awards to name a few. His new project Sex & Addiction, showcases the single “Break” which gives the truth about his gains and his pitfalls.

From success and fame to house arrest, David is now sharing his life’s story with others on what made him break and how he has recovered fully. The singles releases Tuesday September 9, 2014 on iTunes.

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American Black Film Festival: A first look at new films

“Just saw the BUTLER rough cut for the first time with @LennyKravitz and director Lee Daniels,” media maven Oprah Winfrey tweeted on June 1.

The CEO of OWN — who stars in the film based on the life of a man who served as butler to eight U.S. presidents — added a special note to audiences on the Instagram image accompanying the tweet: “Can’t wait for you all the see it. #theBUTLER.”

While she may be biased towards her own star vehicle, Winfrey is hardly the only person excited for Precious director Lee Daniel’s latest opus. The Butler, which features Forest Whitaker in the title role, is part of a coming crop of African-American films that movie critics are hailing as a stellar season for black filmmakers. Black films make a big comeback. With nearly a dozen African-American-related pictures slated for release in the coming months, the diverse offerings look refreshing compared to previous years filled with family-oriented romantic comedies, Tyler Perry-produced features, or worse few black films at all.

Not that there’s anything wrong with Tyler Perry. What is being celebrated by industry watchers is the scope, breadth, and variety of films in the black genre on tap, and the number that will likely be serious Oscar contenders. The large number of African-American films being released this year comes, as The New York Times points out in a recent feature, after “years of complaint about the lack of prominent movies by and about black Americans.” American Black Film Festival showcases the latest black cinema renaissance: ‘Fruitvale Station,’ and more.

“Black filmmakers say the wave of 2013 releases was built in large part on the creativity that has flourished on the independent-film circuit,” the Times continues.

Events such as the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) have long been part of this network that nourishes black filmmakers. Many of the coming films will be first viewed by the public at ABFF. In addition to the Sundance Film Festival favorite Fruitvale Station, the lineup of films screening at ABFF starting on June 19 in Miami sheds light on the wide scope of issues being tackled by modern black filmmakers. Beyond the festival, upcoming historical dramas The Butler and Mandela, and the holiday film Black Nativity also highlight the range of black films in the works.

Those behind the scenes attest to the renewed opportunities that have fueled these projects, and the hope that this trend will continue. Praising the uptick in quality African-American films. “The only way we can break down these barriers is to continue making movies, to keep pushing, to keep trying,” George Tillman, Jr., director of ABFF’s opening night movie, The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, said.

Tillman’s film portrays the challenges of youths surviving in an area of Brooklyn untouched by gentrification. By contrast, the ABFF will close with Kevin Hart’s new comedy documentary, Let Me Explain, shot during his tour stop at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Fruitvale Station address institutional racism and police violence. Playin’ for Love, Robert Townsend’s basketball-themed romantic comedy; Full Circle, about a drug deal gone bad; and Home, focusing on mental illness, all demonstrate how distinct this boon of films is. ABFF Founder and CEO Jeff Friday said that the emphasis this year is less on marketing and selling movies for the festival, and more on spotlighting the ingenuity of these filmmakers.

“We really are now doing things that we can control, and focusing more on developing individuals, and finding opportunities for those individuals’ talent to be showcased,” he explained.

Given the breadth of films at ABFF, as well as those in theatrical release, Friday says it’s definitely a comeback year for black cinema, and a throwback to the “glory days” of the ’90s. “I know how we got away from it, I’m not sure why we came back,” Friday said. Friday’s office recently did a study of African-American movies over the years, discovering that black films and artists thrived in the mid-90s when directors like Townsend, Spike Lee, and John Singleton were in their heyday.

“I say this in a jest, but the black community kind of took [the ’90s] for granted,” he admitted. “What happened in 2000, studios shifted their focus away from niche movies… Now, you don’t move [you’re] stock price until you’ve had an Iron Man or a Star Trek. People think it’s attributed to race, but that’s not true. Hollywood, I don’t think they sit around and plot against us, like, ‘Let’s put out two black films a year.’ I don’t think they do it. It’s driven by money.”

As Friday’s study further found, even the most iconic black films of all time often tapped out at $35 million in box office earnings, a mere pittance by Hollywood standards, even if that might be a handsome return for an independent film. He found the exception to the rule, of course, was Tyler Perry. “If Tyler Perry was happening in the mid-90s when Love Jones came out,” Friday observed, “we wouldn’t be focusing [on him] so much. He would just be one of 15.”

Today, part of Perry’s power is that he can bring in the big numbers, something with which other filmmakers, especially unproven ones, have had to contend. Tillman’s movie stars a top-tier cast including Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright, Jennifer Hudson and Jordin Sparks. It was produced by singer Alicia Keys among other influencers. Despite Tillman’s reputable players, the 44-year-old director said it took three years to get this independent project off the ground. It was only possible through outside funding, bucking the Hollywood system.

“I went around to all the studios,” Tillman recalled. “They showed interest in the material, interest in the script, but it came down to [the question]: Who wants to see a film about a 13-year-old black kid surviving with an 8-year-old Asian kid?” After spinning his wheels and exhausting sources, Tillman looked outside Hollywood to find people who believed in his story, and wanted to see something different on screen. He was then able to produce the movie, and later sold it to studio distributors at the Sundance festival.

Dreamgirls’ Sheryl Lee Ralph Will Guest Star on Second Season of “Smash”!

The second season of the musical drama series “Smash” will featureSheryl Lee Ralph guest-starring as the mother of a stage diva played by the previously announced new cast member Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.

 

Ralph was the original Deena Jones in Broadway’s Dreamgirls, for which she was Tony Award-nominated in 1982 as Best Actress in a Musical. Hudson won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 2007 for playing Effie in the film “Dreamgirls.”

Ralph also created the role of Muzzy in Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millieand has starred in films (“The Mighty Quinn”) and TV series (“Moesha,” “Designing Women,” “It’s a Living”).

Vulture.com was the first to report the Ralph news. Playbill.com was able to confirm that Ralph will play Cynthia, who is not an actress or performer but is the mom of Hudson’s stage star Veronica Moore. Hudson is set to appear in a multi-episode arc on “Smash,” including early episodes in season two.  Both are new to the series, which is expected to be significantly revamped when it surfaces on NBC in midseason (think January). Josh Safran (“Gossip Girl”) is the new show runner in charge of story, replacing creator Theresa Rebeck. Tony nominee Sean Hayes, Tony nominee Jeremy Jordan, Andy Mientus and Tony nominee Daniel Sunjata are among the other newcomers to the cast in season two.

The show — a soap opera about the making of a new musical called Bombshell, about Marilyn Monroe — offered mother-daughter tension in season one: Rising star Ivy (played by Megan Hilty) sparred with her Broadway star mom, Lee (played by Tony winner Bernadette Peters). Stay tuned. 

Episodes of season one of “Smash” are available for live streaming on NBC.com.

Did you follow Playbill.com’s weekly episode-by-episode recap, The Smash Report? Here’s the May 2012 column that looks at the season-one finale.