Volume 4 Issue 2 Feb 9 – Feb 15, 2009
Tony Rock Rock Talks Talks About About His His Film Film & & TV TV Rock Career, His His New New Comedy Comedy Tour Tour & & Career, His New New Internet Internet Ventures Ventures His
Plus A Writer’s Take On The Chris Brown/ Rihanna Debacle
Staff Founder / Publisher Frank Holder Chief Financial Officer Kevin Layne Chief Operations Officer Brien Kelley, Esq. Editor-At- Large Sacre Wills Layout, Design & Graphic Art Editor Bernadette Holder PresidentTelevision Division Ray Murphy, Jr. TV Segment Producer Harlan Endelman Photo Editor Allen Zaki Columnists Tony Spires Vanessa Fraction Lamont Ferrell Joey Wells Movie Reviews Aarona Browning PhotographersThis Issue Naoe Frank Holder Head ShotsWire Image Photos
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The content of this Magazine is copy written (2007-â€™08) by The Humor Mill Magazine, DBA Holder Publishing, LLC. and may not be reprinted or retransmitted or reproduced without proper credit given to its origin.
Credits Special Thanks This Issue Tony Tony Rock Rock Dwight Dwight Elmore Elmore Enns Enns Mitchell Mitchell Deon Deon Cole Cole Nikki Nikki Love Love Bill Bill Bellamy Bellamy Allen Allen Zaki Zaki Naoe Naoe Kevin Kevin Steib Steib Andre Andre Bell Bell Richard Richard Gumbs Gumbs Brien Brien Kelley Kelley Ursula Ursula Joyner Joyner Carl Carl Craig Craig Rikki Rikki Hughes Hughes Jay Jay Davis Davis
Tony Rock Photo Shoot
Photography Photography By By Naoe Naoe Location: Location: The The Comedy Comedy Union Union
Deon Cole Photo Shoot
Photography Photography By By Naoe Naoe Model: Nikki Love Model: Nikki Love
Contents Comedy News
Chris Rock was in the news A LOT this past week, from his new film projects, to his TV show ending it’s run to also his new law suit that we are sure he didn’t see coming. Then there is news from Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and more. Not to mention the new news about a new comedy show going to debut on a new network.
Tyler Perry broke the mold this past week with the news about his 2 new films, plus we have some interesting news about Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington that we are sure you will want to know!
Tony Rock~ Rock Da World
From the hit TV Show All Of Us, to several films such as Three Can Play That Game, Tony Rock is showing Hollywood that he is here to stay and really about to Rock Da World! With his blazin’ the stage type of comedy style, many feel that Rock has stepped out on his own in the comedy world. Did we mention that Rock is launching an internet attack and a comedy tour ? It will turn heads and show the world what this kid from Brooklyn is all about! After you read the interview, you will see why Tony is doing it on his own and has us all ready for him to Rock Da World!
Departments Humor Mail
As usual, here are some of the letters and emails we have gotten from you in the last couple of weeks. Take a look at some of the reader’s thoughts and see if some of them mirror your own.
Star Spotlight~ Laz Alonso By Antonia Andullerro You have seen this week’s star spotlight Laz Alonso in many TV shows over the past couple of years, and even in several films, but many women will probably remember him most from his role as Regina King’s verbally abusive and cheating husband in This Christmas (who can forget the show scene?). With that being said, you still can’t ignore his two amazing performances in Stomp The Yard and in Spike Lee’s Miracle At Santa Ana’s. We examine his career and what he has upcoming next, especially the summer blockbuster The Fast and The Furious 4. Our writer looks at all of that, and more!
When Is It Enough? By Sharon Braxton
With all of the drama surrounded by Chris Brown and Rihanna our new writer decided to write about what she thought with all of the drama surrounding this celebrity couple.
Chris tries to take his old job back at Chocolate Sundaes but David Arnold ain't having it! No not really. Chris Spencer and David Arnold after a comedy show at Chocolate Sundaes in Hollywood.
Photo: Frank Holder
Departments Comedian Of The Week~ Smokey
This week we get a chance to catch up with Smokey, and you may remember him from HBO's Def Comedy Jam as he lit up the stage. From that performance and many other shows like BET's new Comic View: One Mic Stand, Smokey is making his tracks in the comedy world. The future looks great for Smokey as he is one of the comedians who is all of the talk in Hollywood.
Style With… Deon Cole
This week we give you a look at one of Chicago’s finest, comedian Deon Cole. What you don’t know is that Cole is also a ghost writer for many popular comedians on the circuit today.
Singer and actor Christopher Williams during our photo shoot in Hollywood.
Photo: Photography By Naoe
The Cut Off
By Tony Spires The Comedy Doctor
Our featured columnist and the founder of The Bay Area Black Comedy Competition & Comedy Festival gives us some more food for thought. If you are not a follower of this writer, then what are you waiting for? There is always some food for thought here.
This week we review the latest Tyler Perryâ€™s latest film Madea Goes To Jail and the latest super hero film The Watchmen. As we usually do, we check and see if the film is really worth the money. You know how we do!
A Fraction Of Love By Vanessa Fraction
Our new columnist gives you her version of Dear Abby with a Sista point-of-view. All of the answers are as they should be; real talk! Check out this weekâ€™s questions to the Fraction Of Love!
Now That Barack Is In Charge!
Photographer: Frank Holder
By Darryl Littleton
Another article this week from book author, comedian Darryl Littleton. Check out his new and latest chapter here!
Comedy writer Johnny Mac and comedian Tshaun Barrett after viewing a show at The Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
Departments Elite Delta Force Three By Peppur Chambers
Our featured columnist and the founder of The Bay Area Black Comedy Competition & Comedy Festival gives us some more food for thought. This week, in the passing of the festival, the question is, who’s next?
My Comic Journey; In My Own Words By Willie Brown
Last week we got an article from a comedian and very popular ventriloquist Willie Brown that we just had to share with you. A very touching story on how hard the road is to success, and most importantly all of his failures that lead up to this point. One of those articles you don’t want to miss!
Behind The Scenes: An Interview With… Michael Kimbrew This issue we start our first series of interviews with comedian, director, producer, writer and actor Michael Kimbrew as he talks about his new films and his other upcoming projects. Here is a true story of a person who did it himself, and does not take “no” for an answer. Kimbrew might actually be the industry’s next Tyler Perry success story.
Comedian Skillz after the Who’s Got Jokes? Audition at the Comedy Union in Hollywood.
Photo: Frank Holder
By Frank Holder
Editor’s Page To All Of Our Readers,
Frank Holder Publisher Humor Mill Magazine
Actor and comedian Chris Rock performing on stage at the Chocolate Sundaes Comedy show located at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
Photo: Frank Holder
In the never ending story of violence, it seems that things never change. As I always say, “bad news has the wings of an eagle and good news has the legs of a snail”. Don’t know where I heard that from - I think that’s an old Chinese proverb. But I do know that stories fly all overespecially bad ones, and they are usually as they may appear. Speaking of which, the story of violence between Chris Brown and Rihanna has taken a lot of legs and has flown around the world. But how much of that is really true? I am not sure and I do not condone that type of violence, but I do know that there are some physical bruises on Rihanna, and it doesn’t look good. There are things that are being reported that I question… Why? BECAUSE there is her side, his side, and what really happened. My point is we can’t rush to judgment for two people in love, and we need to let them sort it out.
To The Humor Mill Magazine; Thanks for the last issue. I have to say, I had no idea that the Hart’s were making comedy history, but I do know Torrei has a long way to go before she catches up with her Husband Kevin. Keep up the great work. Sally Rushmont Unknown Humor Mill Magazine; Kevin Hart must really hate the fact that Torrei is doing stand-up! From all of the years and comedy specials that he has said about his wife over the years, I am sure he cringes when she gets on stage! Oh how I would like to be a fly on the wall when he found that out HA HA! Shelly Kagan Unknown The Humor Mill Mag:
Photo: Frank Holder
When you guys were interviewing Kevin and Torrei, it looked like Kevin was in so much pain. It looks like to me that he doesn’t want Torrei to be up on stage at all, I don’t care what he said. After all, your facial expression says it all Kevin. Comedians John Moody and Steve Wilson before the comedy show at the Comedy Union in Hollywood.
Mel Samuels Chicago, Il
Mail The Humor Mill: It seems every week there is some drama that goes on in the comedy world. It makes me think of all of the things that must have went on before you guys started to print. Boy there must have been drama with the Kings Of Comedy Tor, maybe the Queens, and maybe even more when Def Comedy Jam first came around. Who knows? But thanks for everything that you guys are doing over there. Kevin Halls Boston, MA Humor Mill Magazine; Wow! I was soooo surprised to see Christopher Williams in your publication! I used to love him so much! Itâ€™s great to see that he is about to drop another album and get a shot in another film. I really wish him well, and he is still fine as ever! Valerie Pettiford Hartford, CN
Where in the world did Christopher Williams crawl out from? I thought he was done. HYour magazine did a good job making him look like a star that he used to be. Just wish you had given us a little more on him! Unknown
Photo: Frank Holder
Humor Mill Magazine;
Actress Regina King arriving on the red carpet at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Mail To The Readers; Earlier in the past week we posted the story of the incident that occurred between Vanessa Fraction and Joe Torry. Below is some of your responses; To The Humor Mill Magazine; I know Joe Torry as a friend and as a contemporary; he is an upstanding man, father and brother. I'm glad you gave him this opportunity and platform to clear the air on such an unfortunate incident, which was really a small thing that got blown way out of proportion.
Photo: Frank Holder
Thank you! Stevie Mack To The Humor Mill Magazine;
Sound Chick Humor Mill Magazine; I don’t believe none of that stuff you printed about Joe Torry. UNKNOWN
Comedians Vanessa Graddick and Kym Whitley at Tom Joyner’s HBCU’s Foundation and Auction during Grammy Week Hollywood.
Photo: Frank Holder
Seriously, this was wack. What was the point? God don't like ugly and that truth will surely come to light. Yes there are some missing parts to this story, nonetheless, anyone that knows Ms. Fraction knows that she is a peaceful, kind hearted, classy lady. Comedians sit back and talk shit it's all a part of the game. As a successful African American female in a male dominated industry unfortunately SOME of the brotha's will hate instead of being respectful, proud and protective of that woman. Of course a man who thinks he has some sort comedic rights can dish the heat but can't take it and especially not from a woman. In this case that is exactly what happened. Should a woman sit back and keep her mouth closed while a man continues to insult her and call her all kinds of Bitches while insulting all women in general as Bitches? No, Fraction used her wit to combat ignorance and gets physically assaulted in return. Where is the love and where is the respect in this world? This man has a mother, a wife and children is it ever that serious? I pray for them both that valuable lessons will come from this very unfortunate event.
Comedian Charles Walden and writer/ comedian Lamont Ferrell at the Steve Imes Comedy Showcase at the Improv in Hollywood.
Mail Humor Mill Magazine; I had to write to you because I just finished reading Joey Wells’ article and I was rollin’! It reminded me of my childhood so much! It seems that older Black Women are universal with straightening out their children. But Well’s writing really made me think of Tyler Perry’s Madea character. Anyway, I enjoyed the article, and keep them coming! Renford Hurt New York, NY To The Humor Mill;
Photo: Frank Holder
I really want to know where Tony Spires comes up with some of his writing ideas. I look forward to reading each one as I find them thought provoking, and even opening up some parts of my brain that I didn’t know I had. Please ask him to teach a writing class or something! He has many skills that an aspiring writer like myself would love to learn. Especially while some of us are trying to find our voice in this world of many voices, some of which sound like shouts, but many are whispers. I would love to learn! Signed, Young Jedi Apprentice Address Unknown Ed. NOTE: ‘Nuff said!
Comedian Joey Wells performing at the Comedy Union during his Birthday Celebration in Los Angeles.
Mail The Humor Mill Magazine; I loved reading that blub you wrote about Shante Broadus. I had no idea that she was trying to be a manager because on her show, they make her look like a pushover Mother and Wife with no career aspirations EXCEPT for her clothing line which she has never gotten of the ground. Anyway, it looks like she has a real life after all. You Go Gurl! Blair Cooper Birmingham, Al Humor Mill Magazine: I just loved the pictorial that you had from Bobby Brown’s Birthday bash. I wish that I had been there! I get the feeling that there may be a New Edition tour on the horizon real soon! Ed NOTE: There is. Stay tuned to the Humor Mill Magazine for the details!
Photo: Frank Holder
CORRECTIONS FROM LAST ISSUE! There were too many to name, but thanks to your letter we know about all of them! Besides the minor typos we had, there we really too many to name. ☺ Hey, what can we say? We are doing the best that we can, especially without a full time Editor! Anyway, If you want to send us an email about the articles or your thoughts, all you have to do is send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for all of your comments. Some of these emails and other correspondence may be printed right here in these pages!
Comedian Rion Evans performing at the Comedy Union during Joey Wells’ Birthday Celebration in Los Angeles.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Actor Christopher Reid on the red carpet (doing his Captain Morgan pose) at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
On the panel and preparing for the comedy roast of John Witherspoon are (l-r) Paul Mooney, Sheryl Underwood, Guy Torry, Mark Curry and Tom Dreesen. On the bottom row is actress Anna Maria Horsford, Earthquake, Kym Whitley and actor Tim Reid on stage at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
L-R: Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Martin Lawrence, Loretta Devine, Ron Glass & Danny Glover As we first reported last week, we hear that comedian and actor Chris Rock finally landed the two actors/comedians that he wanted in his new film titled Death at a Funeral. Rock was able to land Tracy Morgan and Martin Lawrence in this classic remake of the same name. Also joining the cast are Loretta Devine, Ron Glass, Danny Glover, Regina Hall, James Marsden, Zoe Saldana and Columbus Short. The film is a comedy in which a funeral ceremony turns into a debacle of misplaced cadavers and family secrets. When things can't get any worse, a man arrives saying he's the dead man's gay lover and threatens blackmail. Rock, who also co-wrote the script, is producing with Sidney Kimmel, Share Stalling, Lawrence Malkin and William Horberg.
Speaking of Tracy Morgan, and as we reported earlier in the past week, it looks like the Hollywood industry magazine Variety beat us to this next story; according to their insiders it looks like comedian and actor Tracy Morgan was cast in the new film titled A Couple of Cops which we hear is a detective comedy that will also star action star actor Bruce Willis. The film will be directed by Kevin Smith, in which he will be directing his first major studio film. According to Variety, the film is centered on a pair of cops who track down a stolen baseball card, rescue a Mexican beauty and must deal with gangsters and laundered drug money. The film will be released under the Warner Brothers banner, as they picked up the project film in turnaround last year from Gold Circle, where it had been in development with Robin Williams and James Gandolfini in the lead roles. As we reported several weeks ago, it is now being confirmed by the studio that Eddie Murphy will star in the Richard Pryor biopic that will be titled Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? for director Bill Condon. We just heard that Murphy will wave his usual eight-figure fee, and that there will be parts for four of Pryorâ€™s wives and a part for someone who will play Redd Foxx. We also hear that filming is going to begin later this year and will be released in 2010.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Producer of Chocolate Sundaes Pookie Wigington and comedians Katt Williams and Chris Rock after viewing a show at The Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
There is even more bad news from the Chris Rock camp; we just discovered that Rock is about to be sued in civil court. It seems that it all stems from model Monica Zsibrita, the same woman who had filed a civil suit against Rock, alleging he raped her and fathered her child. After taking not one but two DNA tests, it was proven that Rock wasn’t the father, and no formal charges were ever filed on the sexual assault allegation. At that time Rock was not only facing the possibility of fathering the child, but Zsibrita also wanted to file sexual assault charges, and thanks to the tests, nothing every materialized from this allegation. Well word has just reached us that Rock now has new problems with this woman. A Los Angeles judge has reopened the case after Zsibrita decided to slam Rock Chris Rock for alleged breach of contract. It seems that Rock and Zsibrita came to a secret settlement in 2000 about the baby, as Rock had feared he MIGHT have been the father. But then Rock talked about this situation on a 2004 appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Zsibrita claims that this was in violation of the confidentially agreement, which was part of the pair’s settlement. The exact comments; “Someone who was not pregnant with my child claimed to be pregnant with my child and requested large sums of money. I’m here as a free man. I didn’t do anything wrong.” No word yet on this situation, but as this story develops we will fill you in.
L-R: Tichina Arnold, Terry Crews, Tyler James Williams, Tequan Richmond, and Imani Hakim And speaking of comedian Chris Rock, it looks like its’ going to be bad news for his TV show Everybody Hates Chris, currently on the CW network. Unless, the network decides at the last minute to change it’s mind because of a write-in campaign by fans, the show will not be renewed. The show debuted to much critical fan fare in 2005, and was nominated for several Emmys, Golden Globes and Image Awards, while taking home 5 Image Awards. The show Everybody Hates Chris is about Chris Rock's life as 13 year old and how he thought being a teenager was going to be fun when it turns out that it wasn't what he expected it to be and it shows on how he grew up in Brooklyn, New York with his younger brother and sister and his strict, hard-working parents. The show stars Tyler James Williams, Terry Crews, Tequan Richmond, Tichina Arnold and Imani Hakim.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and actress Kim Coles, and actresses Dawnn Lewis and Vanessa Williams at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Speaking of Murphy, our sources have discovered that actor and comedian Martin Lawrence is about to tackle a film with similar traits to Murphy's Coming To America. We hear that production company Alcon Entertainment has acquired the film Back to America, a film that is about a working-class man from Queens who discovers he is heir to the throne of an African country and travels there to claim his birthright. In Coming To America, Murphy, playing the Royal Prince of Zamunda, came to the United States to seek his bride. Lawrence will produce the film via his Runteldat Entertainment banner alongside Alcon. Martin Lawrence
We have to pause for a minute and wish a very Happy Anniversary to D.L. Hughley and his wife Ladonna Hughley, as they just recently celebrated 23 years of marriage on February 22nd. Congrats to them and many more! D. L. & Ladonna Hughley Alas, there is some bad news from D.L. Hughley’s camp; as we reported several weeks ago, it looks like the word has become final; Hughley’s show D. L. Hughley Breaks The News currently on the CNN Network is being shut down. No word if it was because of the declining ratings or if it is because of Hughley’s family being in Los Angeles while he had to continue to tape the show in New York. We do know that CNN agreed to keep D.L. Hughley on staff in a new role where he will be a contributor for the network based in Los Angeles. Robin Williams We have discovered this past week that comedian and actor Robin Williams will undergo heart surgery for an aortic valve replacement. According to reps for the tour Williams will be out from any performances he has scheduled for film and his Broadway show Weapons of Self-Destruction have been postponed. The show is currently on an 80-city tour with the remaining dates pushed back until the fall with exact dates to be determined. All of this began a week ago when Williams first complained of having heart health issues and shortness of breath, and was advised to take a week off from the tour.
Co- Executive Producers Carl Craig and Rikki Hughes and comedian and actor Bill Bellamy after the audition taping of Bill Bellamyâ€™s Whoâ€™s Got Jokes? at the Comedy Union in Los Angeles.
As we first reported on our blog a couple of weeks ago, we hear that Black Entertainment Television is beginning a new venture with their classic comedy show Comic View. Word is that BET is now switching from Comic View- One Mic Stand to a new Gospel Comic View and will be titled BET Gospel Comic View - A Time to Laugh. Word is it will be hosted by Gospel singer Vickie Winans.
Congrats to comedian Jonathan Slocumb who is about to drop his new clean comedy show on The Gospel Music Channel titled Ha! Stand-up for Clean Comedy. The show will debut on March 7th and will be a new family friendly series that will feature standup comics, sketches, and bits from the clean comedy scene. Ha! will be hosted by Slocumb, who frequently opens for Bill Cosby. So far, we hear the line-up will feature comedians Lisa Alvarado, Michael Joiner, Leighann Lord, Horace “HB” Sanders, Angel Gaines, Taylor Mason, Ron G., and Ron Baker Jr. Ha! will debut as a special on Sat. March 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and will then be seen as shorts interspersed throughout the GMC schedule.
Its being reported that comedian and Host of ABC's The View , comedian Sherri Shepherd is finally getting her
comedy show on the air. The show (yet to be titled) was originally set to debut a little while ago on the CW Network sometime during last season. Since things at the network have changed and the CW deal didn’t move forward, Shepherd’s show is heading to Lifetime Television. The show is a network approved multicamera comedy pilot featuring the comedian as a woman who allows her husband's mistress and illegitimate child move in with them. The show is loosely based on Shepherd's own experiences. Sherri Shepherd
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and actor John Witherspoon on stage during the taping of the his Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
L-R: Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tamala Jones & Glenn Plummer We just heard that the new film written by and starring Ice Cube and Mike Epps titled Janky Promoters which was scheduled to be released this March, has been pushed back to a July release date. No official word from the studio on which exact date but it has been confirmed that the film was pushed to July. Janky Promoters is about two shady concert promoters (Cube and Epps) get into hot water when their chance to book a superstar rapper goes awry. The film also stars Tamala Jones, Glenn Plummer and comedians Lil JJ and Tiffany Haddish.
Brandon T. Jackson Chiwetel Ejiofor
We just discovered that actor and comedians Brandon T. Jackson has just landed another new film. We hear that Jackson just recently signed on to star in the new film titled Percy Jackson as he will play Grover, a satyr. The film is about a young boy discovers he's the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods. The story kicks off with Percy becoming the prime suspect when Zeus' master lightning bolt is stolen. The boy has just 10 days to find and return the stolen property to bring peace to the warring gods. In case you didnâ€™t know, in Greek mythology, satyrs were a troop of male companions of Pan and Dionysus. They are often associated with sex drive and vase-painters often portrayed them with perpetual erect penises. So as you may know, this role should not be mistaken as The Donkey in Shrek. Our sources have told us that Jackson has several other projects on tap, and is very excited about this role. The film will be directed by Chris Columbus (of The Harry Potter films) and produced by Fox 2000, and the studio is looking to place a number of big-name actors in the smaller roles of the gods. Production is scheduled to begin in April in Europe. We hear that British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor has recently been cast opposite Angelina Jolie in the upcoming film titled Salt. Originally set to star Tom Cruise, the Columbia Pictures espionage thriller was redrafted by screenwriter Kurt Wimmer as a star vehicle for Jolie. Philip Noyce remains attached as director and Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Sunil Perkash are producing. Jolie plays a CIA officer who's accused by a defector of being a Russian sleeper spy and must elude capture long enough to establish her innocence.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian Chris Spencer on stage at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Oscar winner Halle Berry has just signed on to star in the new film titled Who Is Doris Payne, a film based on the true story of an international jewel thief whose career spanned five decades. Word is in the industry that itâ€™s a major leap for the studio since the star was seen in a similar role in the film Catwoman which was a major flop. According to the trades, the film is being written by Eunetta Boone and developed by J2 partners Justin Berfield and Jason Felts. The real Doris Payne, now 75, made her mark by stealing diamond jewelry from stores such as Neiman Marcus and Town and Country. "Her success was based purely on her good looks, incredible charm, and gorgeous clothes," reports MTV's Movies Blog. "She would simply ask to see trays upon trays of rings, earrings, or watches and try on so many that clerks would forget how many they had given her. After police finally caught up with Payne, she served no more than 5 years in jail, though she is currently back behind bars for stealing a ring from Neiman Marcus.
Doris Payne Rumors are rampant this past week that actor Will Smith is attached to star in the upcoming family comedy Monster Hunter. We have to say that we were unable to confirm this story from Smithâ€™s Overbrook Entertainment, but they did agree that there is a new project underway. We are just not sure if this is the project. Anyway, Smith would play a child psychiatrist who can actually see and does battle with the monsters in children's closets. Smith was previously attached as a producer for Monster Hunter and Kevin James (of Paul Blart Mall Cop and Hitch fame) was set to star.
Speaking of the Smith family, we hear that actor Michael Vartan will co-star opposite Jada Pinkett Smith in TNT's upcoming medical drama titled Time Heals. Smith leads the cast as Christina Hawthorne, a strong but caring director of nursing at a North Carolina hospital. Vartan will play Tom Wakefield, the director of medicine at the hospital and a possible love interest for Hawthorne. The Sony TV-produced series is due to premiere later this year. Vartan, best known for his role on ABC's Alias, replaces Jeffrey Nordling, who played the role in the pilot.
Actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez before his performance outside the Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
Taraiji P. Henson
We hear that Tyler Perry is still on a very successful run, as more good news was released to us this past week. It seems that film studio Lionsgate, with whom Perry has an excellent relationship with because they have released all of his films, acquired rights to two more Perry films. The films in mention, Why Did I Get Married Too and I Can Do Bad All by Myself will have Perry again writing, directing and starring in both projects. All of this is on the heels of Perry’s latest film, Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail, leading the domestic box office for two consecutive weekends as it has topped $75 million in its first 11 days of release. In Perry’s new film, actress Taraji P. Henson, (of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, fame which she was just nominated for an Oscar) is starring in the film. The film will be titled I Can Do Bad All by Myself. This film is based on Perry's play of the same name, and will begin shooting March 16th at Perry's studio complex in Atlanta and is set to be released Sept. 11th. Perry’s other film Why Did I Get Married Too, (a sequel to 2007's Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married), has been set for release on April 2, 2010, the start of next year's Easter weekend.
L-R: Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis and Ernie Hudson After speaking with our friends and a couple of other sources we have, we hear that Dan Aykroyd confirmed that Ghostbusters 3 is moving forward as we reported several weeks ago. No word yet on the script, but Aykroyd did say the script is in the final stages, and the producers have been in serious discussions to either re-launch the franchise or to tell another story that would include all of the original cast members. Also, the Producers face another challenge of trying to get everyone back on board for the film. The original cast starred Aykroyd with Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis and Ernie Hudson.
Comedian and actor Finesse after his performance at The Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show at The Laugh Factory in Hollywood.
L-R: Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Howard, Don Cheadle & Mickey Rourke This past week- in an unprecedented move for films, Marvel Entertainment went after the actor they really wanted and secured Samuel L. Jackson in a nine-picture deal to reprise the character of Nick Fury in a series of films for the studio, beginning with next year's release of Iron Man 2. According to industry leading magazine Variety, Jackson will also suit up as Fury, agent of spy outfit S.H.I.E.L.D., in the upcoming films Thor, Captain America, The Avengers and their sequels. Also on the table is the possibility of starring in a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie, which is in development. If you recall, Jackson made a surprise appearance as Fury at the end of Iron Man, showing the first glimpse of Marvel's plan to link all their slate of movies into one filmic universe. Jackson and Fury were expected to be part of the sequel, but as Marvel negotiated with its cast, deals proved hard to come by. For example, Terrence Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle, and Mickey Rourke still doesn't have a deal for the part of a villain despite almost two months of negotiations, but things may have turned around in the last couple of weeks. Congratulations to actress Tisha Campbell-Martin as we hear that her new TV Show Rita Rocks has been given a pick up for season #2 on Lifetime Television Network. Produced by Media Rights Capital for Lifetime, the series also stars Nicole Sullivan and Richard Ruccolo, and is about a wife and mother who forms a garage rock band. Our only question is how are they going to tie in her new pregnancy, especially since she is almost four months pregnant and she is definitely showing. Tisha Cambell-Martin Denzel Washington In more good news this past week, we hear that actor/producer/director Denzel Washington, currently filming the science fiction thriller The Book Of Eli, is planning on starring in a new drama/ comedy with actor Louis Gossett Jr. We will have more info on the name of the film and when filming begins shortly.
Lou Gossett, Jr.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian Earthquake on stage during the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
We just discovered that the news you may have heard about former football star Michael Strahan possibly getting his own TV show is true. It looks like the NFL Superbowl MVP is getting a comedy show, and we heard from one of the stars of the new show star Daryl Mitchell (of House Party fame) that he will play his brother on the show. No word yet on what the show will be about or what network, but we will have that for you shortly.
Michael Jai White
L-R: Kym Whitley, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Tommy Davidson & Arsenio Hall There was some more news sent to us this past week about the film, Black Dynamite which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival this year. We hear that the action/comedy film looks like it will be released around August or September, moving the film up from the expected release of in the fall. Word also has it that since the screening at Sundance, the film has picked up a buzz and is expected to meet opening weekend expectations (which we have NO idea of the dollar amount because no one will speculate to us). The film Black Dynamite is the story of 1970s African-American action legend Black Dynamite. The film description states that The Man killed his brother, pumped heroin into local orphanages, and flooded the ghetto with adulterated malt liquor. Black Dynamite was the one hero willing to fight The Man all the way from the blood-soaked city streets to the hallowed halls of the Honky House. Black Dynamite stars Michael Jai White (of Spawn fame), Kym Whitley, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, John Salley, Miguel Nunez, Jr., Chris Spencer, Brian McKnight, Arsenio Hall, and Tommy Davidson, just to name a few. Actor Morris Chestnut is about to try his hand in television again as itâ€™s being reported that he just landed a leading role in ABC's new science fiction re-make drama V from Warner Brothers. If you recall, the series V debuted as a special NBC mini-series in 1983 and later became a regular series for the network. The new V will not have the same characters, but the premise will be the same as aliens come to take over the planet and to many they appear as friendly beings, while secretly stealing our resources and capturing humans as food. Word is Chestnut will portray the boyfriend with a dark secret.
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Comedians Tony Rock and Joey Wells after a comedy show performance at the Comedy Union during Wellsâ€™ Birthday Celebration in Los Angeles.
L-R: Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Mo’Nique, Dakota Fanning & Djimon Hounsou We just discovered more news from the Lee Daniels-directed film titled Push. It seems that the film is going to have a name change from its current title and be renamed Precious, after the film's lead character. Currently the film is trying to be distinguished from the current Dakota Fanning and Djimon Hounsou film of the same name. As we told you a couple of weeks ago Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry will team up to help promote the film through their respective film companies, Harpo Films and 34th Street Films. The film became only the third film in Sundance Film Festival history to win the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Awards in the U.S. Dramatic Competition last month. The film stars comedian Mo’Nique, newcomer Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.
Salli & Dondre Whitfield
We want to congratulate proud parents actors Dondre T. Whitfield and Salli Richardson-Whitfield who are the proud parents of a new baby boy. The baby, named Dre Terrell Whitfield was born on Saturday, Jan. 24, weighing in at 7 lbs., 7 oz.,. Dre joins big sister Parker, 3 ½. As you may already know, Salli, currently stars on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Eureka, and has recently appeared in films I Am Legend, Antwone Fisher and on TV on CSI: Miami. She and Dondre, have been married since Sept. 2002. Another actor looks like he will be jumping to television; it seems film star Derek Luke will make that transition to the small screen with a starring role in the NBC drama pilot titled Trauma . We also hear that actors Kevin Rankin, Cliff Curtis and Jamey Sheridan are in negotiations to co-star in the project, which is a medical procedural about a team of emergency medical technicians. Luke will play a stoic trauma doctor who tries to be a good family man. Curtis (of Live Free or Die Hard fame) would play a genius surgeon and adrenaline junkie who travels by helicopter. Sheridan (of Law & Order: Criminal Intent fame) would play an intuitive doctor who runs the trauma center. Rankin (of Friday Night Lights fame) will play a paramedic who drives the fire department truck.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and Co- Executive Producer Chris Spencer with Executive Producer and Radio Jock Russ Parr after the show at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
If ever the phrase “blazin’ the stage” meant anything, for this week’s cover feature we see the meaning in it with comedian and actor Tony Rock. The phrase not only was coined because of what you can see on the horizon with future hip hop artists, but we can tell you that it applies to anyone who touches a mic. With this comedian who is from Brooklyn, Rock has much respect for his craft and it is evident as he is starting to headline major venues all across America. For those of you who do not know, Tony Rock caught America’s eye several years ago as he burst on the scene as Dirk Black on the UPN/CW sitcom All of Us, and little did anyone see the storm on the horizon brewing. But that’s okay because If you weren’t a serious fan of comedy back then you weren’t aware Rock was rippin’ the stage frequently at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles, and where ever else he could get on stage, honing his craft and determined about his career on stage. Since birth- as you will hear Rock say in the upcoming interview,- he knew he was funny and he knew he was destined for the stage. Fast forward several years later and Rock has not only had several TV shows on the air such as The Tony Rock Project (that aired on MyNetworkTV) and The Funny Spot on TV One, but he has also begun a film career starring in such films as Three Can Play That Game with Vivica Fox. But most importantly, he has so firmly stepped out of the shadow of his older brother Chris Rock it’s almost an insult to mention his older brother’s name to him to him. Why? Well, the reason is simple; he did NOT by any means use nepotism to get to where he is, and if you ever mention his older brother’s name to see if Tony name dropped to get to where he is, the younger brother would be insulted that you even asked that question. As if his work didn’t already speak for itself. (A sidebar here-This is ironic to us because many folks in Hollywood name drop just to get a table when going out to dinner.) Anyway, I digress; Tony Rock has made it in Hollywood on his own merit and no one can take that away from him. If you happened to catch his breakout comedy performance on Def Comedy Jam’s 1st episode re-launch after almost 15 years, Rock was the first one up to kick off the new season. That alone was flattering because it declared that not only was Rock funny enough to be featured on that episode, but Def Comedy Jam knew that many people were going to decide if they were going to give that show a chance after the first few comics, and they pushed Rock out there with the weight of the whole season on his shoulders. And he pulled it off, and the season began. Today, Rock recognizes many things about what he wants to do with his career and where he wants to take it, as he has launched a comedy tour, and he is about to launch an internet attack on Facebook, and a new website. We got a chance to discuss with Rock many of his career moves and his thought s on many things. Here is a portion of the interview.
“…I am gonna create my own brand, in stand up and create my fan base through grass roots, so to speak. Like going to cities, letting people see me, talk to me, shake my hand. So when the movies and TV does pop off I already got 5 million people behind me waiting to spend their 10 dollars on Tony Rock.”
Humor Mill: Here we are with Mr. Tony Rock. Tony how are you doing? Tony Rock: Everything is good. How are you? I am about to host The Chocolate Sundaes Comedy Show here at The Laugh Factory like I do every Sunday. Come and check me out. HM: Everyone has seen you in a couple of films and we have seen you in a couple of TV Shows, please tell the audience out there the first thing that you have on tap since your TV show on TV One. What do you have coming up? TR: Since the end of the Tony Rock Project? Now I realize that you cant sit around and wait for things to come your way in this town so I am going to create my own. I put my money up with me and my partners and we are gonna create the Tony Rock and Friends Tour. We already got six cities locked in, and we are doing intimate venues, like maybe 1,000 seats to 1,500. First city, is Atlanta on May 1st, Center Stage Theater. Tony Rock, Na’im Lynn, Rod Man and JJ. Then we do Little Rock, then we do Columbus, and we are trying to do six to ten cities. HM: So, behind-the-scenes is something that you are thinking about doing a lot? TR: Yeah, because if you notice and you watch TV, any sitcom, just turn the TV on any given day. Watch the credits. Those names never change. The people in front of the camera, those names always change. HM: When did you realize that? TR: I have always know it, I just never was in the position to capitalize like that. HM: The last 5-10 years you have been putting out content like you want to Quarterback your career. When did you decide that now is the time that I want to take charge of my career? TR: TV is not that same as its been, and sitcoms are few and far between. Especially if you are black. There are one or two sitcoms a year if you are black. It’s like a cattle call to even being close to being recognized on TV. I was just lucky to get the sitcom, and I realize that. So now I am gonna just stay in my lane with stand-up. That’s what I do. So I am gonna create my own brand, in stand up and create my fan base through grass roots, so to speak. Like going to cities, letting people see me, talk to me, shake my hand. So when the movies and TV does pop off I already got 5 million people behind me waiting to spend their 10 dollars on Tony Rock. HM: Now you are starting to step out from your brother. For people who don’t know… TR: Naw, I’ve always stepped out, I have never been behind my brother. I didn’t come in the game on nobody’s shoulders, nobody’s back pocket, nobody’s back pack, I came in as Tony Rock. HM: How does it feel to be completely separate from your brother? For people who haven’t seen your comedy is completely different? TR: The stand-up is different because its two different people and two different ways at looking at things. People always think that its kind of weird that I don’t use the name. Its weird that people really act like that with me. They almost seems like they are saying “Why wouldn’t you ride someone else’s coat tail?” But I never looked at it like that. To me, its like why not be your own man? I don’t want to live out of no one else’s pocket. I don’t want to eat when someone else is hungry. I want to eat when I I want to eat, I want work when I want to work, and I want to go where I want to go. To see the complete interview please visit http://humormillmag.com/
“People always think that its kind of weird that I don’t use the (Rock) name. Its weird that people really act like that with me. They almost seem like they are saying ‘Why wouldn’t you ride someone else’s coat tail?’ But I never looked at it like that. To me, its like why not be your own man? I don’t want to live out of no one else’s pocket. I don’t want to eat when someone else is hungry. I want to eat when I I want to eat, I want work when I want to work, and I want to go where I want to go.”
As usual, we got a chance to reach out to another New York comedian who has blazed the stages for many years and has been on so many comedy stand-up shows that he really should be a household name, and that’s Smokey. Born Derron Edington, to date Smokey’s best performance was on last season’s Def Comedy Jam where he had the crowd in stitches, and if you were in the audience like we were, you would have seen many folks laughing well after his performance and in between the takes. Stuff like that they edit from television, but stays with the audience after witnessing a brilliant performance. But that’s not all of Smokey’s accolades. If you love comedy, then you would have seen his performances on BET’s Comic View: One Mic Stand, Showtime At The Apollo, P Diddy’s Bad Boys Of Comedy and Bill Bellamy’s Who Got Jokes?. Smokey has since landed in several music videos and films such as Rock-A-fellas Films’ Paper Soldiers, Death Of A Dynasty,
and State Property 2 just to name a few. We even discovered that Smokey will be in the new Charlie Murphy film titled Twisted Cap. Smokey’s future is real bright, and some folks have said he could be the next Mike Epps, taking his comedy style from the streets, but regardless of all the talk we wanted to get a chance to chat with him and see what he has to say about his career and his past experiences in comedy. Here is a portion of the interview; Humor Mill: This week we got one of the funniest comics on the line… Mr. Smokey! Hey man, what’s up? Smokey: What’s up Frankie Frank! What’s going on? HM: Man you are one of the funniest comics around. For those people out there who don’t know you, you ripped the stage last season at Def Comedy Jam and you have been ripping stages all across the country. Smoke, first thing I got to ask you is, from the Bay Area Comedy Festival to stages all over, what made you get into comedy? S: Hmmm, what made me get into comedy? Ever since I was a kid I was always attracted to comedy . I never laughed at certain things , every time I saw something funny on TV I would sit down and stop playing and pay attention to it, things like Saturday Night Live and things like that. SO for me liking it so much when I was young, and me making people laugh on elevators and stuff like that, I just got motivated to do comedy for myself. HM: Now you know you got to tell us about making people laugh on elevators, right? S: I used to make people laugh by saying stupid stuff on the elevators.. Like saying anything. I would say something funny, Spanish people laugh, I say something funny Jamaican people laugh, like all different cultures would laugh at what I was saying. Sometimes they didn’t even know English and they would just laugh at what I say or laugh at how my voice sounds. That kinda really made me want to get into comedy. HM: Wow! Okay, you been doing comedy for how long now? S: Twelve years now. HM: Twelve long years brotha! S: Twelve looong years. HM: You have had some highs and you have had some lows in this comedy game. Would you say one of the highs of your career was being on Def Comedy Jam, and letting the world see who you were or was it something else? To hear his response please visit http://humormill.podhoster.com/
Photographer: Frank Holder
Actress, singer, and dancer Porscha Coleman on the red carpet of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
All of the celebrities that were on hand at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian Paul Mooney on stage during the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Actor, comedian, and film director Tim Reid after the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
MADEA GOES TO JAIL Starring….Tyler Perry, Derek Luke, Keshia Knight Pulliam Tyler Perry as Madea has done it again, and as usual Perry has pulled out all of the stops. I have to say that I thought this movie was funny from start to finish. What I liked most about this film was the real life situations that Perry placed all of the characters in so the audience could relate. Scenes like the the high speed car chase, going to jail, and everyday people making mistakes. Not to give anything away, but the “I loves Harpo I do, but I will kill him dead before I let him beat me” line was one that we can all appreciate from the movie “The Color Purple”, but I won’t say who said it… You have to see the film for yourself so you can appreciate the film like I did. Also I enjoyed seeing actress Keshia Knight Pulliam play an adult role, and something totally opposite of her “perfect girl” image that was portrayed on “The Cosby Show”, and placed in certain situations throughout the film she was very believable. Overall, this film provided a lot of different emotions and was quite entertaining. WATCHMEN Starring… Malin Akerman and Billy Crudup First let me say that this movie is about a group of superheroes who decided to lead regular lives until one of the heroes in the group gets killed. Overall I think the film started out too slow to capture the audience’s attention and I found myself quickly losing interest. A quick note to the reader; I feel that you have to pay close attention to the story or you will get lost as the story develops slowly but it is a little too much. However, I really enjoyed the special effects and eventually the story started to make sense to me but I can’t say the same for the audience. I didn’t get the full understanding of how some of the heroes got their names, The Comedian for example, but I guess that’s how it is in the comic book world. I felt that because of his history and how he treated people he should’ve had a more vicious name. Maybe it was a play from Batman’s The Joker character. Anyway, if it does well in the box office I could possibly see a sequel. If you’re into comic books and super heroes, you’ll love the film The Watchmen.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and actor Guy Torry on stage during the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Now that Barack’s in charge it’s time to go forward with our plans. As you all know this “etiquette manual” was written just for blacks and I’m sure all of you have made sure only blacks have seen it. The coding you’ll discover within the pages should answer all of your last minute concerns. As pre-arranged at the last meeting this small manual was written to clear up any pertinent details. As previously discussed, no harm shall come to the innocent. Our only targets are powerful institutions and established entities. Remember, this plan was hatched long before any of us were born and now it’s time to implement it. The times and coordinates have been sent to your email addresses. So rejoice – we’ve fooled them all. Now it’s time to go to work. Before I lay out the final steps let us be thankful and grateful that the stars aligned and we received immeasurable aid from the Bush/ Cheney camps as well as McCain / Palin. Not in the wildest dreams of our forefathers could such a conglomeration of idiots and idiot-wanna-bes been assembled to possess and gain such global strength and influence. This could not have been calculated and only stands as further confirmation that our cause is just. All praises to the framers of this monumental plot. When our African descendants gazed upon their captors they knew one day that they would not only be free, but that a greater reward lay ahead; and not the pie-in-the-sky the adversaries preachers pushed to bore holes in their vision. In 1809 it was so simple – gain the trust of the nation, then over-throw from within. We had house slaves and field slaves working hand-in-hand in a blanket of co-operation to keep their masters thinking they honestly didn’t like each other. Attempts made to separate by class were futile to these early pioneers. Crushing the overseers and their aides was a certainty until a traitor unleashed all information gained at that time to the authorities. That original blueprint was discovered and many of our comrades were destroyed. So thank you, Frederick Douglass for having the forethought and wisdom to predict this outcome and devising the second phase. It was your masterful powers of observation and persuasion that brought us to this day. Had you not seen the chinks within the inner workings of the White House and nudged Lincoln towards action of law we might not ever had tasted victory. Manipulating his position of trust and offering a role model to spring forth the next generation to continue his work was sheer genius. Lest I not forget Douglass’ brilliance in enlisting Harriet Tubman, and giving her specific instructions on which plantations to target; we commandeered some of our best and brightest from the liberations. Many of these individuals, once free, were able to raise consciousness and recruit greater masses to our strategy. They wrote poems, newspaper articles and short stories, all containing the coded messages you are all now quite familiar with. We should not forget the assistance of comedians who continued to push the agenda and necessitate trust through humor. Because some of these very freedom fighters still dwell amongst us I will refrain from singing their praises at this time, should it compromise their final message. Who knows – there’s always the possibility we have a traitor or two in our midst. Well, I say this now traitor – you better hope the mob takes care of you before I get there. Your kind will be the first to go.
We must also give our respects to the musicians over this long struggle. Without their lyrics of love the status quo would still fear us and thus this moment would be but a far-fetched dream. James Brown, your grunts and groans gave us our New Testament is which to take action. Ridiculed as it was by the mainstream, we took comfort in knowing you were leading us to the Promised Land, with every utterance of coded babble. Oh, thank you, James and sorry about the prolonged memorial. This has taken much time and effort. Many sacrifices had to be made. We saw the progress in our testers, John Mercer Langston, the first black elected official in 1855. Once he got the office of town clerk of Brownhelm Township, Ohio, we knew we were on the right track. Payback was on the way. From there we had carpet-bagging politicians during Reconstruction at a time many thought our ancestors would have been sent back to Africa. Once it was established the country would allow us to stay they made their own bed. Have no pity on what is about to transpire. America asked for it and now they’re going to get it. I won’t go into the specifics of what will be administered. You already know. Just remember to stay strong. We’re doing the right thing. Dick Gregory, Eldridge Cleaver, Shirley Chisholm, Jesse Jackson, Dr. Lenora Fulani, L. Douglas Wilder, Alan Keyes, Al Sharpton, and Carol Moseley Braun must all be commended for being excellent testers. The nation was being lubricated. An activist comedian and Black Panther was rogue candidates, but Jesse ran our strongest campaign up to that time and had a shot at a cabinet post had he avoided the racial epithets towards our Hebrew brethren and not accepted that do nothing position of DC Shadow Senator. Why shadow –because you’re black? The women also gained notice, but we knew we were coming to the finish line when the country even entertained the notion of listening to a candidate with a perm. Good reconnaissance, Al. Colin Powell. Thank you for making the sacrifice of not running. The office was yours with a certainty, but the timing was wrong for this quest. Our operatives were not fully in place and to launch such a well thought out plot prematurely would have meant its eventual demise. As a military mole you understood this despite the pressure put on you by some of our more impatient members. And Jesse, once this is over please don’t bring up anymore how you could’ve made the plan work in ’88. You know damn well we were splintered during that time behind the momentarily successful efforts of the Reagan administration to keep us at odds. Thank God, the faithful stayed the course and kept the information mill churning. Most of all we want to thank our friends on the inside for carrying out such a masterful task as getting Barack his senate seat in an uncontested race. However, it must be stated that Alan Keyes did jump in so things didn’t look too shady. Thanks, Alan. We almost blew it. Now aren’t you all glad we had coon courses? How you gonna beat ‘em if you don’t think like them? At least that’s the way they thought for the 1809 insurrection. Now here we are, exactly 200 years to the day of the original revolution date. However, this time we have a true insider. One who has traveled the globe and communicated with our allies directly. They trust Barack more than anyone could’ve ever imagined. Of course we all thought Jesse Jr. was the chosen one, but fate smiled on plan B. Hate to say this at such a pivotal time Jr., but pops didn’t help your cause, y’know what I’m sayin? Being the offspring of a scandalous, bitter, rabble-rouser wasn’t going to beat Hillary, homeboy. By the way, let’s thank the Clinton’s and all the honoraries of the cause. Yes, sometimes they can be a little over-zealous and forget that are ‘honoraries, but as we all know their hearts are in the right place, it’s evidenced by their attendance. Anyway, the day of reckoning has come. Clarence Thomas, you’ve done a wonderful job of chicanery. Bravo! But now its time to lift up that robe and let the lead fly. Wayne Brady, you let us down with that Chappelle appearance. You’d been groomed to be the perfect infiltrator, but don’t worry, we‘ll spare you for your thirst for ‘street cred’. Black Republicans –make sure the next meeting is the last…for everybody. And all the rest of you – you know the time – you know the date and you know where we meet up when our mission’s truly been accomplished. Good luck to you and remember. Don’t let anybody who’s not black see this. They still don’t think most of us read. So a final thanks to Chris Rock for keeping that one going. See you-you-know-where.
This weeks Star Spotlight focuses on Laz Alonso. When I think of Laz Alonso (born Lazaro Alonso) I think of my favorite cocktail, A Perfect 10, strong and enjoyable as well as creatively authentic. That's exactly what I believe that Laz Alonso will bring to the big screen in the Fast and the Furious 4 that hits theatres April 3rd. Laz was born and raised in Washington D.C and attended the prominent historically black college Howard University and graduated with a BBA in Marketing. As with so many other educated scholars that have credentials in business, medicine or even law, Laz was just one of the many that somewhere down the road got bit by the acting bug. He decided that moving to New York would elevate his career and bring a sense of clarity for what he desired for his future. Acting seemed to be that desire and the aspiration has been fullfilled. In addition to his acting skills, Laz grew up playing classical music on the piano and from that learned to produce beats. Producing music is currently a new venture he's trying to launch and knowing Laz, I'm sure he'll give us nothing but the best. Many of us may recognize Laz from Sony Screen Gems film Stomp the Yard. In this all time favorite, Laz plays the role of Zeke, the President of Mu Gamma Xi fraternity who attempts to recruit D.J (played by Columbus Short) to pledge for his fraternety and is rejected. Stomp the Yard is a must see along with This Christmas, Miracle at Santa Anna, Captivity and many more. The most recent masterpiece that will be unveiled for all to see is the much anticipated action thriller The Fast and the Furious 4. Clear your schedules and get ready for a blast from the past as this film reunites the original cast formulating it to be the best one yet and most likely to be the last movie to end the sequel. Also be on the look out for Laz's next project, a Sci-Fi thriller called Avatar directed by James Cameron. One things for certain, this rising star has a resume that is action packed, drama driven and candidly suitable for anyone's taste buds. In support of Laz's career and his success past and present, it's comforting and inspiring to see him climbing mountains and maintaining a lucrative acting career in not only today's society but today's economy. It's a pleasure when I know a man with such character and intergity is working so hard to fullfill the status quo of being a brilliant actor. Cancel any upcoming plans you have on April 3rd beacuse Laz Alonso is coming to a theatre near you.
Casting Director Robbi Reed and actor director Michael Jai White arriving on the Red Carpet at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
I wanna first start off by saying thanks for everybody that came out for my surprise birthday joint. To all the comedians who are asking, “It’s like that Joey? How come you didn’t invite me to your surprise birthday party? I’m kind of sorry, but I’m not at the same time. The reason I’m not sorry is, go back up top and read the first sentence, and look at the word SURPRISE. Once again my editor is on me about this article. I would tell him stop harassing me, but this economy is so bad; I can’t afford to turn down any income. This recession is so bad; you don’t hear people complaining about their jobs. You know the people I’m talking about. “I can’t stand this job,” or this comment, “This job can kiss my ass!” Let me tell you how bad this economy has gotten. Black people all over this country are showing up to work ON TIME! Not just on time, but EARLY! Oh yeah, if we lose our job it’s not gonna be over the snooze button. I do want to give some advice on this whole recession. People these things are gonna get harder, before they get easier. My advice for some is to not get comfortable. People are getting laid off after 15, 20, and 25 years. Here is my advice, start kissing some ass! That’s right brown nose! These are desperate times people. You know your boss like strippers, asks your wife to take one for the team. Invite him over for dinner, and have your wife jump out a cake. Bring some cocaine to the office party; it’s time to start thinking outside the box people. Now if you can’t avoid the ax, my advice to you is start looking for other jobs before they get to your name. My other suggestion is to start your own business on the side. You can begin by looking around your current job, and start stealing what you can, and selling those products. I know some of you have been doing this for quite some time, now is the time to step your game up. Some people might think that what I’m suggesting is outrageous; others are bringing larger purses as they read. Let me tell you something people, every job that I worked at I removed certain items for my benefit. When I worked at McDonalds, I ate, and I sold burgers on the side. Footlocker, need I say more about my tennis shoe game. When I worked as a reception, access to phone, stamps, and office supplies. Whatever you do please don’t get caught. There is nothing more humiliating than to watch a grown individual being escorted out of the office in handcuffs, because of sticky pads. Now as I wrap this article up, some people are reading this and asking, “Is Joey advocating us to steal?” YES I AM!!! The views of the author of this article are not the views of this publication. www.myspace.com/joeywells5
Comedic actor Terry Crews and his wife Rebecca Crews arriving on the Red Carpet at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
This article is going to be a first in a series of interviews that we at The Humor Mill are going to conduct with many people who are behind the scenes of films and in television in the entertainment industry. Kicking off this first Behind The Scenes Series is actor, producer, director and writer Michael Kimbrew. What stood out about Kimbrew is his tenacity at trying to accomplish his goals of making it in Hollywood and by taking no prisoners while doing it. Quickly flying under the radar in Hollywood, Kimbrew has already taken the Tyler Perry approach by raising his own capitol and creating a fan base, a following while distributing his films, films like the Mansfield 12 and Tons Of Love. Under the tutelage of Master P, Kimbrew has now several films on the market and we got a chance to speak with him about his latest African American romantic comedy titled Tons Of Love, which was recently added at your local Blockbuster outlet. Here is a portion of our interview. Humor Mill Magazine: Here we are with Director Producer and even sometimes an actor Mr. Michael Kimbrew. Michael, how are you? First thing I want to ask you is how did you come up with the concept to say that I want to make my own film and distribute it and start from scratch that way? How did that come about? Michael Kimbrew: I came up with the concept from being in the entertainment business for a few years now. It’s just common sense that you have to take control of your own destiny. You can’t sit around and wait on somebody to put you in on a film. If you really want to be in a film then get up and create your own film. So I adapted that concept, a concept which I learned from Master P, studying Master P for so many years and watching him. He took the bull by the horns so I said “Hey, if I am going to be in the film business I am going to take the ‘bull by the horns’.” HM: So how did you get into the business? How did that happen? MK: How did I get into the entertainment business? I used to do stand-up comedy. I was the opening act for Eddie Griffin for a few years and he took me out on the road with him, and Nick Cannon and I were good friends. We used to do audience warm-ups together at Nickelodeon, telling jokes to the audience and what not. Just knowing people in the business, its just pretty much who you know. The way you get to know people is by being in there. So I was just in there and I met people and here I am. HM: Okay, now the film. The name of the film is…? MK: Its called Tons Of Love. Go get it, it’s a good movie. HM: Can you explain to the audience out there what Tons Of Love is all about and who’s starring in it? MK: Yeah, what it is, is it’s a comedy, a romantic comedy. It’s an African American romantic comedy with some of the comedians that you have seen on Def Comedy Jam, people like Capone is in it, he hosts Showtime At The Apollo. Gerald Kelly, very fully upcoming comedian, bunch of faces you have seen. I came up with the idea as I was doing my research and in order to know where you are going you have to know where you came from. So Iw as looking at films by successful people prior to me such as the Hudlin Brothers, Robert Townsend, guys who have had success. They all started with a very low budget comedy with very talented people. To see the complete interview please visit http://www.humormillmag.com
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and actor Affion Crockett arriving on the Red Carpet at the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
I've got some news for you. I'd love to get a feature in your magazine, but I want to get some new photos done. I have some good stuff that I want to share with you. I want to talk about making it in stand up comedy in a non-traditional manner like being a blac ventriloquist. I feel proud to represent our people in this field. At least that's what Michael Colyar told me years ago. He said "Willie you represent us meaning black America in the field of ventriloquism. I never gave it much thought until later. And now I agree with him. Of course I wouldn't be where I am without the inspiration of my mentor and friend Willie Tyler and Lester. I was also inspired by Jay Johnson from the hit tv series "Soap". What I've found to be very motivating is the fact that I'm still on the grind, and still making people laugh after all of these years. I'm still in the game and growing even though I no longer reside in Los Angeles. I was a working Comedian/Ventriloquist for years before I even moved to L.A. I came out there to see how far I could go with my craft. It was a real power move coming to L.A. I started from scratch. I moved out there after separating from my wife and college sweetheart. I had two kids that I left in Maryland as I came out to do the Hollywood Shuffle. I lost my house, my wife, car, and my dog in that order. The only thing I had was my faith in God, my talent and desire, and my partner Woody. I came out to L.A. in 1998 and was suppose to move in with a Kappa brother of mine who I pledged with at Hampton University. I had a girl with me who I had met during my travels on the road and we couldn't all stay in his one bedroom apartment. So I had to try and get my own place without any credit or anything. I went into the rental office where my frat brother lived in Culver City and began talking with the property manager. He asked me what I did for a living and I told him that I was a comedian/ventriloquist and he said "oh yeah, but what do you really do?" That was a Hollywood question. So I showed him my portfolio, and while he was impressed with it, he still wanted to know my credit worthiness. So he asked me what references could I give him. Of course my references were few because I had just filed bankruptcy and lost everything. I was renting from my mother in law, but because I was estranged from my wife I didn't want to use her as a reference. No telling what she might say. So he kept telling me that he needed some credit references or someone he could talk to. I was up against the wall at this point. I had driven three days to L.A. from Upper Marlboro, MD right outside of Washington, D.C. and I didn't know what I was going to do. So I called my mother and she told me to just go somewhere and pray. And I did just that. After praying I somehow begin to come up with a few references, but no one that he could actually get in contact with. So once again he said to me "Willie I'd really like to help you, but I need someone to talk to". So at that very moment I got this inclination to go out to my car and get Woody's suitcase. I kid you not. I know it was God because I would have never thought to do this on my own. So I walked back into to his office and sat across from him with Woody on my knee.
He begin to laugh as I made Woody look him right in the face and say "you have a chance to do something good for someone today". He continued laughing, and he asked if Woody lived in the suitcase, and Woody said " I live in there, he lives in there and it is crowded as hell!" "We need a place to stay!" So the property manager said you know what I like you. I've never done this before, but if you give me five hundred dollars today, and can come up with three hundred more dollars in a few days, I'll waive the security deposit and give you the key to the apartment. I had a money order in my pocket for five hundred dollars. I gave it to him and he gave me the key that night. That was my first night in L.A. I stayed in L.A. for seven years. My son came out to live with me because he was giving his mother trouble back home. I didn't know how I was going to make it, but I got so much help and encouragement from my friends and other comedians who were single parents like Hope Flood, Joey Wells "Jdub", Melanie Comarcho and actor Kosmond Russell. They helped me to believe that I could balance a comedy career, survive in L.A. and raise my son by myself. And with God's help I did. I became a paid regular at the Comedy Store and got my name written on the wall. That was a big deal to me because it was a dream of mine. I was able to get in many doors that standup comics got in even though I was a ventriloquist. I have much thanks and gratitude to all of the bookers, managers, comedians, and audiences who accepted my brand of comedy. Let's be real, comedy is not easy. It's especially hard when you're doing it through a piece of wood. But I make being a six foot four black man talking to a wooden doll seem cool. That's my gift to Black America and the world. Thank you for allowing me to thank outside of the box. God made me good at what I do and I'm still on the move. I left L.A. and moved to Atlanta in 2005 in order to bring my son closer to his mother and to help him get through high school, and now to college. I didn't want to leave L.A. because things were starting to happen for me. I got casted in Showtime's "Barbershop" which was produced by Ice Cube. I had a recurring role as a homeless atheist and Woody was a street evangelist. I got my SAG and AFTRA card, did a number of commercials, and a few movies. So L.A. was good to me. Like I said I didn't want to leave, but I guess it was my destiny. I moved from a one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house, two car garage on a half acre of land in McDonough, GA, a suburb of Atlanta. At first I thought nothing was going to happen because I was away from L.A., but then I remembered that I was a thriving road comedian before I ever moved to L.A. So I just got back to the grind. Thanks to God I'm now touring with The Browns of Comedy, which is going quite well, I did voice over work on the Notorious movie up in New York, shot a pilot for the new TBS Comedy Road show which should air in the spring, also happen to be one of six ventriloquist to be featured in a documentary called "Figures of Speech", produced by Hollywood writer/producer Mark Goffman. They flew a crew out to my home in Georgia to follow me around for three days and then I came out to the Laugh Factory in Hollywood to finish it up a few months ago. And finally I was just casted in Shelly Garrett's hit play "Beauty Shop 2009" with Johnny Gill and I'm scheduled to tape the new BET comedy show called "Gospel Comic View" in March. That's right. BET has a new clean Gospel Comedy Show. I think it's gonna change the game once more. So I'll be back to Hollywood again with my all new act featuring my new family of puppet characters. And this time I'll have my own TV show. So I say all of this to say it's good to be different in comedy. "It's good and it's all wood". That's my story and Iâ€™m sticking to it. Willie Brown www.williebrownandwoody.com
Photographer: Frank Holder
Actor, comedian, and film director Tim Reid on stage during the taping of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedian and actor Tommy Chunn at Big Spikeâ€™s Mo Betta Mondays at the Improv in Hollywood.
L-R: Nikea Gamby-Turner (Green), Robin Thede (Red), LeShay Tomlinson Boyce (Light Blue), Nefetari Spencer (Orange), Angela Yarbrough (Purple), Nika Rastta (Yellow)
When it comes to comedy, there’s funny and not-so-funny. When it comes to sketch comedy, there’s the solidly hilarious, “Wow! That’s so genius!” funny; and the “Oh my God! Please stop, this is painful!” not-so-funny. I tend to prefer the former. And that’s where the sisterhood of the Elite Delta Force 3 (EDF3) enters. EDF3 is pure genius. Self-described as an “all-female sketch comedy ensemble that tackles current events, celebrity gossip and more--all while incorporating song and dance into dynamic original and uproarious sketches”, this group of women offers no apologies when mocking the rigidity of the 1950s woman or ripping apart the stupidity or hilarity of today’s political or entertainment headlines. As a sort-of spin-off from another phenomenal sketch group, Cleo’s Apartment, EDF3 is a direct testament to the adage that in life and especially in entertainment, you must wait for no one...i.e. “You gotta create your own sh*t". That is exactly what funny girls Nefetari Spencer and Angela Yarbrough did. Cleo’s has rocked sketch since 2005. However, when Cleo’s went on an extended hiatus last year (for really swell reasons, as the co-creators and writing team of Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle were hired on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and moved to New York), both Spencer and Yarbrough knew they wanted to continue with the magic they all had created here in Los Angeles. Yarbrough adds, “We started Elite Delta Force 3 because we wanted an avenue to showcase our talents. Acting and writing jobs are hard to come by these days, so we felt we had to create our own opportunities. We also felt there are no AfricanAmerican, all-female sketch groups out there so why not!” Taking the women from Cleo’s Apartment – plus one, this mighty group of six individually funny women debuted as Elite Delta Force 3 at Regency West on February 7 in a powerful night of female-empowered comedy, sketch and improv produced by Vanessa Bell Calloway and Nefetari. Calloway and Spencer (aka “The Queen” or “The Nefarious One”) met through association with the late Bernie Mac. In a heart-felt closing to the 2/7/09 performance that garnered EDF3 a hysterical encore from the sold-out, standing-room-only audience, Vanessa spoke highly of Spencer’s passionate drive and commitment to produce a multi-format comedic show at Regency West (owned by Calloway).
Calloway stated how Spencer emailed video after video to display her talents and those of her cohorts. One of which, created by Salahuddin and Riddle and produced for their now defunct online show, HBO’s The Message, starred Spencer as Condoleezza Rice in a “Condi-licious” spoof which earned them nearly 2.5 million You Tube views and counting. Comedy is dying…Will the Elite Delta Force 3 Save the World in Time? If this is their mission, then I say, “Yes!” Elite Delta Force 3 will obliterate the notso-funnies into an ashy memory. Their talent is certainly enough to do the job; their name will sweep up the remains: “We came up with the name after trying to force other names to work. Angie wrote a sketch called Elite Delta Force 3 and it just worked. I mean we were almost going to be the Hattie McDaniels.” With Yarbrough as the main writer, and the others punching up scripts as needed, EDF3 is truly a hilarious tour-de-force which includes Nikea Gamby-Turner joining former Cleo’s members Nika Rastta, Robin Thede, LeShay Tomlinson Boyce and Spencer. It’s not surprising that these women are such strong performers. They are comedic actors and stand-up comediennes with television credits that include Kath
and Kim, Hannah Montana, Chocolate News, Frank TV, The Bernie Mac Show, CSI: NY; and stand-up performances throughout LA’s top comedy clubs like Comedy Union, The Laugh Factory, The Comedy Store and more. Their biting, smart and topical tone is similar to what you’d find on Saturday Night Live. Judging from a sketch that has Spencer playing a dead-ringer for Michelle Obama (the one that elicited the roaring encore), it is only fitting that they had a well-deserved industry showcase on March 3rd for NBC. Elite Delta Force 3 performed February 21st at Second City and re-appeared at Regency West on March 20th. Please visit www.elitedeltaforce3.com or www.regencywestla.com for more information for future events. I asked EDF3 one very important question: “Wax or shave?” Nefetari Spencer (www.myspace.com/nefetarispencer): I prefer wax but the recession says shave. Angela Yarbrough: Shave... waxing hurts. Robin Thede (www.robinthede.com): Bikini Wax! LeShay Tomlinson Boyce (www.leshayonline.com): Nika Rastta
(www.youtube.com/nikawill1) Nikea Gamby-Turner
I want to try a wax but I'm scared!!! So I “Nair”! or shave!
Peppur is the creator and performer of Harlem’s Night Cabaret performed by the sultry, sassy, sophisticated and sometimes funny, Brown Betties. www.brownbetties.com
Let me start by saying, I was a HUGE Chris Brown fan because of his soulful R&B sounds and refreshing lyrics. I think he is one of the most talented artists we have today. Rihanna on the other hand grew on me. It took songs like, “Take a bow” and “Live Your Life” (my theme song for 2009) to see that there was substance to her work. However, is it love if you bash someone’s face against a window? Or bite their fingers and ear while blurting out curse words not listed on the person’s birth certificate? We have witnessed, been involved, heard, and watched movies and court trials based on horrendous physical relationships. When are we going to learn that violence does not mean/equate love. Love is NEVER defined by hitting someone or being on the receiving end of a force so powerful, it is meant to break someone’s spirit. That’s control, and it’s wrong. Thank you, Ms. Winfrey for publicly speaking out against violence towards women on your show. Thank you, Mr. Blair Underwood for representing the caliber of men and parents society often fails to honor and respect. There are times in our lives when we think we are in love but we do not realize that the person who professes to love us cannot possibly feel that way if they are causing us pain or refusing to support our dreams and uplift us. In one of Mr. Brown’s songs he states, “I'm drivin', you could take the front seat. Just need you to trust me.” How can anyone be trusted if they may not be sure of their direction? Couples have arguments on their journey through the bliss. However, never is it an excuse to create a UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) moment in real life with your honey. To the parents out there who love their children, you are supposed to protect them. You do not realize the depth of pain you cause allowing children to witness violence in the home. Monetary gain should never be the factor to sell your child to a twisted mind human being who does not respect himself or the people he supposedly loves. A well-respected female entertainer was once married to an abusive male vocalist for many years. She finally mustered up the courage to vacate this horrible lifestyle and moved into a career of longevity and a life filled with joy. As far as his career, well, he no longer had one, except for the multiple arrests. Never be afraid to walk alone. God will join you. If someone brings out the worse in you, pray for them…and then run so far into the opposite direction, your heels run down. Not everyone is meant to sit next to you in the choir. Perhaps, they are to sit in the audience and watch you do you because their character would not allow them to be them! Understand that although you may have a nice car, it’s necessary to allow God to be the chauffer. Be careful who you allow to carry you, especially if they are crawling for reasons that did not start with you. God gives us choices. Anger management and counseling may be a better option. Choose to love yourself and walk in the gift of integrity and light. As you reach higher, God removes people from your world, only to bless you with angels so you can peacefully “LIVE YOUR LIFE!” By Motivational Speaker and Author, Sharon Braxton Seasons: 40 Ways to Affirm Your Life Crying Shame Before I Let Go: I will not settle for mediocrity www.sharonbraxton.com
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedy Show Producer Barry Wallace and comedian Gina Yashere at Big Spikeâ€™s Mo Betta Mondays at the Improv in Hollywood.
Comedian â€“ Deon Cole Photograpraphy By Naoe
Another break out comedian who is taking the country by storm with his unique and laid back delivery style is comedian Deon Cole. Originally from the south side of Chicago, Cole is one of the most requested headlining comedians in the club and college circuit nation wide today. He is also an actor, having appeared in MTV's Short Circuitz and Wild N' Out as well as Barbershop 1 and 2. As a standup, he has been featured in Comedy Central's Laffapalooza, HBO's Def Comedy Jam, BET's Comic View, NBC's Showtime at the Apollo, BBC's The World Stands Up, and STARZ' First Amendment. Also, Comedy Central produced a half hour special with him which premiered in 2007. Deon has been a featured comic in the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and the CanWest Comedy Fest in Vancouver. He was a finalist in NBC's Stand-Up for Diversity Showcase and he won BET's Robin Harris Award for most original comic. He has been part of several tours including the Cole-Cola World European Tour for the Troops (Germany, Amsterdam, Belgium, Japan, & Korea), the BET Comedy Tour, the Def Jam Tour, the Budweiser Superfest R. Kelly Tour and the Mary J. Blige Tour.
Ah, but it doesnâ€™t end with Mr. Cole there. What is a growing movement out of his camp is the ability to write jokes, and unbeknownst to many folks Cole is writing for many of your favorite comedians that you see on the circuit today. You might say that he is a comedianâ€™s comedian. Or one of the most popular and unknown ghostwriter for comedians.
Whatever you want to say, Deon's charismatic personality and original style make him one of the most popular performers in the comedy scene today. SO you better watch out, because he will sneak up on you!
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedians Esau and Lil Rel at Big Spikeâ€™s Mo Betta Mondays at the Improv in Hollywood.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedians TK Kirkland and Donnivin Jordan at Big Spikeâ€™s Mo Betta Mondays at the Improv in Hollywood.
Photographer: Frank Holder
Comedy show producer Pookey Wiginton and actor Clifton Powell on the red carpet of the John Witherspoon Comedy Roast for TV One at the infamous Friars Club in Beverly Hills.
Initially, I wasn’t going to write about this. But it happened to me again. And it happens to us way too often. So, tell me, what’s the cut-off age for police harassment simply because you’re Black or Brown? Is it 30? Is it 40? Well, been there and done that on both numbers. I can tell you with all the certainty of personal experience that it goes well past that! How far past that? Now, you’re gettin’ in my business. Actually, I know a brutha’ who is in his 60’s who was recently jacked up by the cops. Apparently, it was because he didn’t get his auto insurance through AARP. I jest and digress. Anyway, yesterday, no more than two minutes after leaving a family function near the border of Oakland and Berkeley, California, in a rental car, I was followed and then subsequently pulled-over by a Berkeley police officer. I asked him what the problem was. He asked me for my license and registration. I told him that the car was a rental. He told me that the light that illuminates the rear license plate was weak. I smiled as I laughed to myself. He asked me where I was coming from and if I had ever been arrested or spent any time in jail. I laughed at him-like I always do when they ask me a question to which they think they already know the answer. Then, I told him he should “run” my license so he’ll “know first hand.” It’s a beautiful thing when a Black man knows he’s clean! He said that he didn’t know me, so he had to do his job and ask me. I looked at this cat, that was probably young enough to be my son’s friend, stroked the relatively small but growing number of gray hairs on my beard and said, “Man, whatever.” A month ago, in the nearby East Bay community of Pleasanton, California, late on a Saturday night, after two sold out shows of the Bay Area Black Comedy Competition & Festival, my wife Rhonda, My son Derell and I were just exiting the club and walking in the parking lot toward our rented mini-van. We just happened to have wide smiles on our faces and just happened to be rollin’ in a rented mini-van. One of “Pleasanton’s finest” rolled up on us, his spotlight puttin’ us completely “on visual blast.” He asked us to come where he was standing. We complied. I took “the point.” He obviously saw us coming out of the club. He still asked us where we were coming from. I almost lost it! But not wanting any of us to be statistics or subjects of a never-going-to-be-justly-resolved, ongoing in-house investigation, I thought better. In my most defiant but controlled voice, I curtly asked him, “Why are you bothering us? You saw that we came out of the club.” (You know I had to flex a little for both my wife and my son!) I don’t think he expected my counter. He looked shocked, like he wished he had back-up (My son is 6’ 4’’/240 and I’m 6’ 3”/235). The cop finally said, “There was a report of an open container in the area and you matched a description.” He looked embarrassed. I started laughing at the irony. Foolishly, I threw up my arms in disgust. God was with me. I didn’t get shot. “Well, you can see that we have no open containers, officer,” I retorted. Surprisingly, he frowned, walked back to his cruiser and took off.
A few months before the “Open Container Caper,” I was attending an industry mixer at a club in Burbank, California. It was about midnight. I jumped in my car, exited the lot, made a legal U-turn and headed for the intersection that would take me out of Burbank and back to my own neighborhood. (Did I mention that I was in my own vehicle this time.) Out of nowhere, as usual, the local authorities swooped on your boy and pulled him over. So there I am, with one cop in my face, shining his flashlight in my eyes, being interrogated with the same, tired, “routine,” excuses for questions. Lucky for me, I had my “routine” answers at the ready! During the impromptu interrogation, a second “peace” officer, this one dressed in tactical gear, walks up on my passenger side, knocks on the window and gestures with his free hand for me to roll it down. His other hand was on his weapon, which was strapped to his leg-like a SWAT cop’s gun. I caught him, catch me, catch him entranced in his best ready stance-like a wannabe cowboy posing in front of a full-body mirror. His eyes begged me to try something. I snickered at him and laughed out loud (but in my heart I was praying because it looked like it was about to go down). They said they stopped me because my window tint was darker than the law allowed. “But I’ve had this car for years. I had two of the previous models of the same vehicle-both had the same tint on the windows,” I told the one in my face. Unfortunately, I’d been stopped by cops before-you know-for driving while Black. They’ve concocted all sorts of reasons. Never had any other cops mentioned my window tint job! Once they found out I was clean, they reluctantly let me go. A while ago, after leaving the location of one of our productions, my wife and partner Rhonda and I, jumped into separate cars and took off down the same street. I was in my trusty ride. She was in a loaner car. Her usual vehicle was being serviced at the time. I called her on the cell and suggested that we meet at one of our favorite Black-owned eateries in Encino, California. (Is anybody beginning the see a statewide pattern here?) Moments later, I’m pulling into the valet parking area in front of the spot. Seconds later, Rhonda pulls up behind me. I jump out and head for the restaurant’s door. I hold it open for my wife… because she got it like that! As she exits her loaner car no less than five police cars converge on her-hands on weapons. They tell her to put her hands behind her head and cuff her. I can’t believe what I’m seeing! I rush to my wife’s side, all the while demanding that somebody tell me what they’re doing to her. They tell me to step away. I stay at her side and continue to demand that they tell me what’s up. There she is, 105 pounds, wearing a sundress and they’re acting like she just killed two guards and then escaped from the penitentiary! I’m just not having it! I put my foot down. So now, we’re both in cuffs, in front of one of our favorite places. It seemed liked a million people-none of who looked like us-drove by and all of them were staring and pointing at us. A comedian that I know walked out of the restaurant and couldn’t believe his eyes. I asked him if he had a camcorder. He said that he would go to his car and check. He never came back. He must’ve had warrants. I told the cops that being cuffed in the open like that was damaging our reputations. I told them that our business associates frequent this establishment.
One of them said, “Sit down on this bench here and no one will know that you’re cuffed.” I said, “Yeah, they probably think we’re all old friends and you guys are just graciously giving us your seats, right? How do you explain our hands behind our backs? Before that incident, we were the most likely couple to succeed and the least likely couple to be arrested. I demanded that they tell me why we were being held. No answer. Finally they told us that they were holding my wife for auto theft and holding me because they were following procedure. I asked them if my wife looked like a car thief. They said that we should be happy it wasn’t nighttime. They would’ve had her face down in the street. I said, “Yeah, right-in a sundress. You guys are doin’ too much! Shortly after they finally told us why they were holding us, I told them they were making a mistake and that the car Rhonda was driving was a loaner car. I told them that the dealer had our car. The cop said that the dealer reported the car stolen. He said that whenever that happens, they have to assume that a theft has occurred. Me being me, I asked him, “So, you mean to tell me that since they have my car, I can report it stolen and you’ll go and arrest them?” Of course, he had no answer. Eventually, they figured it out. The cops let us go. We had dinner. We went home. We sued the dealer. Now, I’m not one of those people who are always looking for a “lawsuit come up.” It was the principal. We litigated for what seemed like years and ultimately, we prevailed and got paid! We settled out of court-right before our trial date. In the words of a famous comedian in a classic move, “I know what I said, but when I got my check, I was gone!” Success (or a nice settlement) truly is the sweetest revenge! Now, I’m not suggesting that you facedown the “po-po” or that you behave how I did in any of the above mentioned scenarios. They could’ve “popped me.” I was just fed up with the whole game. I was growing weary of paying taxes so that those who are supposed to be protecting me are threatening my life. I was tired of the blatant double standard that never seems to get eradicated or even checked. I know having a Black President isn’t going to stop racial profiling any more than it’s going to end racism itself. I also know that it’s not just me going through these indignities. All I’m asking is the proverbial and elusive question, when it comes to the age of the person and/or the frequency of unwarranted harassment by the police for driving (or walking) while Black or Brown at any age, “What’s the limit? Where are the guidelines? Where’s the justice? What’s the cutt-off? Thanks to all of you for reading the column. It’s my pleasure to share these insights with my people. It’s food for thought. If you can’t chew it, don’t swallow it. May God bless you all abundantly. Until next time, be safe, be smart, be successful, be thankful. One Love, for real. Holla at your Doctor! -#Tony Spires is a filmmaker, event producer, personal manager, poet, musician, awardwinning playwright, acclaimed director and columnist for The Humor Mill Magazine. He is also co-founder of Full Vision Arts Foundation. Known as The Comedy Doctor in comedy circles, he is perhaps best known as the founder of the nationally reputed Bay Area Black Comedy Competition & Festival and as writer/director/producer of the acclaimed feature film, “Tears Of A Clown” now available on DVD. Email Tony at: ComedyDoctor@BlackComedyCompetition.com. Visit his youth Arts Organization at: http://www.FullVisionArts.org.
It’s now Monday, March 23rd. Since writing the above article, it has been widely reported in the national media that last Saturday afternoon, March 21st, four white Oakland police officers were shot and killed by a lone 26 year-old African American gunman. The violent ordeal began after the young gunman was pulled over during a routine traffic stop in East Oakland, a vast section of the San Francisco Bay Area city, comprised of numerous neighborhoods of varying economic levels and is populated by diverse ethnic, racial and cultural groups. Historically, however, East Oakland has been known for being predominately Black and under-served, as has Oakland. East Oakland (where I once lived) has also had a less than enviable history with OPD. Back in the day, the area had been home to the Black Panthers as well as the Hell’s Angels, who actually used to shoot it out with each other. It’s a vast expanse of poverty, humanity and frustration, sprinkled with the occasional oasis of well-to-do “pockets,” all south of the 580 freeway-an age-old unofficial line of socio-economic demarcation. There has been a prevailing climate of distrust and apprehension among many Oakland residents when it comes to relations with the police. On New Years Day, 22 year-old Oscar Grant, a young African American father of one, was murdered by a BART police officer (Bay Area Rapid Transit), while being restrained by other BART police officers. This senseless killing also occurred in East Oakland. During my lengthy tenure in Oakland, I had absolutely no success with OPD. I was always on the lookout for them, as were most young and not so young Black men who have lived and still live there. I became familiar with OPD’s reputation soon enough. Actually, their reputation preceded them. They always lived up to their advanced press as being ruthless, brutal and insulated from prosecution for decades of racist acts. It had long been said among some residents that people were not going endure endless insults after countless injuries indefinitely. Some say that a state of war has long existed among Oakland’s Black and Brown residents and OPD. To varying degrees, the same situation exists in every urban city across the country. As much as I am grossly deficient of much love for “the police” as an institution, I have even less love for senseless killing. Even the life of those I may count as enemies, have a value that no other human being has the right to assess or snuff out. If what exists in our inner city streets is a condition of war, casualties are inevitable. Death on either side of any war impacts all of us because all human life is precious and all people are connected. Oakland needs time to heal. Moreover, Oakland needs dramatic and immediate change. God bless Oakland, its residents and all oppressed people living on the front line in inner cities all over the world.
Published on Mar 24, 2009