Remembering firmer first lady Barbara Bush

With her cloud of snow-white hair, signature three strand pearls and compelling presence, Barbara Bush’s image was what she laughingly called “everybody’s grandmother.” But the feisty, outspoken Bush was also a tireless advocate for literacy , an author, experienced campaigner and both wife and mother of a U.S. president.

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Bush, 92, died Tuesday, shortly after her family announced she was in failing health and would decline further medical treatment in favor of “comfort care.” There were no details of her specific health problems.

The announcement was made in a statement from the office of former President George H.W. Bush.

“A former First Lady of the United States of America and relentless proponent of family literacy, Barbara Pierce Bush passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at the age of 92. She is survived by her husband of 73 years, President George H. W. Bush; five children and their spouses; 17 grandchildren; seven great grandchildren; and her brother, Scott Pierce. She was preceded in death by her second child, Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush, and her siblings Martha Rafferty and James R. Pierce.”

Bush was “broken-hearted” over the loss of his “beloved Barbara” and was said to have held her hand all day. He was “at her side” when she passed away, his chief of staff said.

In a statement, her son, former President George W. Bush, called his mother “a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other.”

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He also said, “My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions. To us, she was so much more. Mom kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end. I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

Shortly after news of her passing came out, President Donald Trump shared his “thoughts and prayers” with the Bush family.

Barbara Bush was survived by her husband of 73 years, former President George H.W. Bush, five children (a sixth died as a toddler), 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Her granddaughter, Jenna Bush Hager, told NBC News on Monday that she and her twin, Barbara, named after her grandmother, had spoken with the family matriarch Sunday night and “she’s in great spirits, and she’s a fighter and she’s an enforcer.”

A source close to the family told CBS News that the former first lady was having a glass of bourbon the night before her passing.

Barbara Bush was born June 8, 1925, in New York City, the third of four children of Marvin Pierce, a magazine publishing executive, and Pauline Robinson Pierce. She grew up in the affluent suburb of Rye, New York, where she was an avid athlete, excelling at swimming and tennis.

As a teen, she attended Ashley Hall, a boarding school in South Carolina. In 1941, when she was 16 and home on Christmas break, she met George Herbert Walker Bush, then a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., at a holiday dance. The attraction was immediate and 18 months later, they were engaged.

Barbara entered Smith College but dropped out to marry Bush, who had gone to war as a Navy torpedo bomber pilot. She was 19 and he was 20 when they wed January 6, 1945 in Rye. Years later, she said, “I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell my children that, they just about throw up. “

As newlyweds, the couple lived in New Haven, Conn., where Bush was a student at Yale and their first child, George W. Bush, was born. They then moved around regularly – to Texas, California, and back to various Texas cities – as the family grew. By the time she moved to Washington for her husband’s vice presidency, Barbara Bush estimated they had moved 29 times.

George W. Bush was followed by a sister, Robin, who lived almost four years before dying of leukemia (an event some speculated was the cause of Barbara Bush’s hair turning prematurely white). The children who followed were Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.

While George – who called his wife “Bar” – built a business in the oil industry, Barbara devoted herself to raising their family. When he entered public life – as a congressman, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People’s Republic of China, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and later as Vice President, she was at his side.

As the vice president’s wife, she selected literacy as her special cause. Later, after her husband was elected president, she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. She also was an advocate for volunteerism, including programs involving the homeless, elderly and those with AIDS.

Along the way, she wrote two books about the family dogs, “C. Fred’s Story” and the best-selling “Millie’s Book,” with profits benefitting literacy. After her husband left the White House, she wrote a best-selling autobiography “Barbara Bush: A Memoir” in 1994 followed by “Reflections” in 2004.

Bush once explained that people liked her because “I’m fair and I like children and I adore my husband.”

She also was known for her forthright manner, especially when anyone challenged her family. In 1984, speaking of her husband’s vice presidential opponent, Geraldine Ferraro, Bush said she couldn’t say what she thought of the Democrat on television but “it rhymes with rich.”

Following her husband’s loss in the 1992 presidential election, the couple moved to Houston and also spent time at the longtime family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Bush was active in campaigning for her sons Jeb, who served as governor of Florida, and George, who was a two-term U.S. president. Only Barbara Bush and Abigail Adams were both the wife and mother of U.S. presidents.

In 2008, Bush underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009, she had heart surgery. In 2014, she was hospitalized with respiratory issues.


Remembering Former First lady Barbara Bush 1925-2018

  1. The spouse of one US president and the mother of a second, Barbara Bush was never content to accept a passive role as political wife.

A long-time campaigner for social justice, she spoke out against racial segregation and threw her weight behind the drive to eradicate illiteracy in America.

At times she had to tone down her more liberal views to avoid clashes with her husband’s party.

This included her natural instinct to take a more pro-choice side in the abortion debate.

She was born Barbara Pierce in New York City on 8 June 1925, the daughter of a magazine publisher.

It was while she was still at school – at just 16 – that she met fellow student George Herbert Walker Bush and the couple became engaged in 1943.

Shortly afterwards, her fiancé went off to serve in the US Navy as a pilot.

They married in 1945 and the new Mrs Bush spent 18 months as a navy wife before her husband was discharged.

Later, she would quip that ‘I married the first man I ever kissed. When I tell this to my children they just about throw up.’

They moved to Connecticut when George was accepted at Yale and it was there that her first son, George Walker Bush, was born in July 1946.

The family then moved to Texas where her husband got a job with an oil company run by a friend of his father. He eventually founded his own oil development company in 1950.

For the next nine years Barbara Bush fulfilled the role of wife and mother, while her husband built up his business.

The death of their three-year-old daughter Robin from leukaemia in 1953 inspired Mrs Bush to campaign on behalf of cancer charities. An interest in improving literacy was sparked when her son Neil was diagnosed as dyslexic.


She also became aware of segregation in the South after driving across America with two African-American women in order to reach a holiday home in Maine.

She discovered, to her horror, that her two companions were not allowed to sleep or eat in the same hotels and restaurants as white people.

For the rest of her life she spoke out against racial bigotry, often finding herself in conflict with right wingers in the Republican Party.

She became a political wife in 1964 when George campaigned, unsuccessfully, to become a Republican Senator for Texas.

But, two years later, he entered Congress and his wife launched herself into political life, working for various Republican women’s organisations.

In 1970, after George Bush failed for a second time to reach the Senate, President Richard Nixon appointed him US ambassador to the United Nations.

Barbara Bush relished the opportunity to make new contacts among the international community and was able to widen that circle when her husband was posted to Beijing by President Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford.

In the mid 1970s, George was appointed as Director of the CIA. It was a difficult period in Barbara’s life during which she suffered from a deep depression.

In her autobiography, she recalled how she would have to stop her car on the side of a highway for fear she would deliberately crash into a tree or an on-coming vehicle.

‘Night after night, George held me weeping in his arms while I tried to explain my feelings,’ she wrote. ‘I almost wonder why he didn’t leave me. I knew it was wrong, but couldn’t seem to pull out of it.’

She never sought medical help for her feelings, which she put down to a combination of the menopause and the stress of her husband’s job. The despair vanished after about six months.

When George entered the primaries for the Republican presidential nomination, Barbara campaigned enthusiastically for him.

The couple’s relatively liberal views on abortion and equal rights were at odds with the growing influence of the conservative wing of the Republican Party under Ronald Reagan.

Witty speaker

The former California governor’s decision to invite George Bush to be his vice presidential running mate meant Barbara had to publicly toe the party line on these issues.

As the wife of the vice president, Barbara Bush stepped up her campaign to improve adult and child literacy, putting her weight behind organisations working in the field.

She also emerged as an entertaining and witty public speaker, and her experience of two vice presidential campaigns stood her in good stead when her husband ran for the White House in 1988.

When she appeared at the Republican convention that nominated him, she became the first wife of a candidate to speak in support of their husband.

Once in the White House she founded the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, designed to raise money for literacy programmes.

She also made regular radio appearances on a programme called Mrs Bush’s Story Time, which championed the benefits of parents reading aloud to their children.

She continued her drive to improve civil rights in America and was reputed to have been influential in the appointment of the first African-American to her husband’s cabinet.

Avoiding clashes

Not all her beliefs were shared by her husband. Her support for gun control elicited strong reaction from his supporters in the powerful National Rifle Association.

And she toned down her relatively pro-choice views on abortion to avoid clashes with powerful groups within the party which might have threatened the stability of her husband’s presidency.

However, she returned to the subject of abortion during the 1992 campaign, stating her belief that it was a private matter and something on which the Republican Party should not take a position.

Her husband failed to gain a second term in the White House, losing to Bill Clinton, and Barbara found more time to spend on her campaigns.

Life outside the White House came as something of a shock to the former first Lady. She realised she hadn’t cooked for 12 years and her driving had become appalling. Her husband warned anyone to get out of the way if they saw her car approaching.

She also had a new candidate to support – her son, George W Bush, was elected to the White House in 2000 and again in 2004.

Barbara appeared on public platforms with him, notably in front of pensioner audiences, to promote his reforms of social security. Throughout the campaign she harboured grave doubts that he would win.

At George W Bush’s inauguration, she became the first woman in US history to have witnessed both her husband and son sworn in as President of the United States.

Abigail Adams was married to the second US president, John Adams, and was the mother of the sixth, John Quincy Adams, but she did not live to see their son elected.

Back on the campaign trail

She was unswervingly loyal to her family but did not automatically extend that support to every member of the Republican Party.

Asked in 2010 about former Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Mrs Bush was damning.

‘I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful,’ she told an interviewer before adding ‘I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”

In 2013, she joked on NBC that the country had probably “had enough Bushes” but soon had to swallow her words when another son, Jeb Bush, announced he too would run for the Presidency.

At the age of 90, she found herself back on the campaign trail in Jeb’s support – although he would ultimately be unsuccessful in his attempt to secure the Republican nomination.

In 2017, Barbara and her husband were given standing ovations at the 2017 Super Bowl. She also actively campaigned on behalf of the victims of hurricane Katrina.

Recently, suffering from heart and respiratory disease, she decided to decline any further medical treatment and return to the family home in Houston.

During long career in public life, Barbara Bush remained a witty and independent-minded bastion of support to her husband and son in the course of their presidencies.

As first lady, she steered a middle course between the public deference of Nancy Reagan and the more high profile role of Hillary Clinton.

And like many of her predecessors, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Helen Taft, she found this gave her room to champion her own causes behind the scenes.

Thousands of mourners flocked to Soweto Stadium to attend funeral service of Winnie Madikizela Mandela “Mother of the Nation’

South Africans turned out in thousands to bid final goodbyes to anti-apartheid Winnie Mandela who was laid to rest with full state honours on Saturday.

Mourners filled the 37,500-seater Orlando Stadium in the township of Soweto where Mama Winnie lived and erupted into loud cheers as the casket carrying her remains was wheeled in.

The casket draped with South Africa’s national colours was placed in the middle of the stadium in front of a stage, decked in white and yellow flowers.

Mourners dressed in the colours of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), as well those of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), sang “there’s no-one like Winnie”, an adapted popular liberation struggle song.

In a moving, yet fiery eulogy, her daughter slammed her mother’s critics.

“It was my mother who kept his (Nelson Mandela’s) memory alive,” said a teary Zenani. “South Africa, and indeed the world, holds men and women to different standards of morality.”

She added that “praising her now that she is gone shows what hypocrites you are.”

“They robbed my mother of her rightful legacy during her lifetime,” she said of Winnie, who she praised for taking on “one of the most powerful and evil regimes of the past century”.

– ‘She died a revolutionary’

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, who took office two months ago, offered an apology for the country’s failure to honour Winnie for her contribution to the liberation of the country.

“I’m sorry Mama that your organisation (ANC) delayed in according you its honour. I’m sorry that we delayed this much, to this point,” he said in an eulogy.

Firebrand opposition politician Julius Malema, who was expelled from the ANC, but who remained close to Winnie, said “she died a revolutionary… she never sold out”.

As soon as speeches drew to a close, stormy clouds formed over the stadium, followed moments after by heavy rains that drenched mourners and the funeral procession as it drove out to a cemetery 40 kilometres away.

Mourners broke into another liberation song chanting in Xhosa: “this is the Winnie we know”.

The ceremony concluded 10 days of national mourning during which time hundreds of thousands of South

Africans have paid tribute to the “Mother of the Nation” at her Soweto home and elsewhere.

Winnie Madikizela Mandela who died in Johannesburg aged 81 on April 2 after a long illness, has been celebrated for helping keep Nelson Mandela’s dream of a non-racial South Africa alive while he was behind bars for 27 years.

In her book ‘491 days‘ she describes in detail the horror and suffering she endured by the hands of the brutal apartheid regime as she fought with a defiant spirit and courageously became the voice and face to free her husband Nelson Mandela. She fearlessly spearheaded the Anti- Apartheid Movement to liberate the black people of South Africa.

– ‘Go well Mama’ –

“She was one of the most profound leaders of the ANC,” said 53-year-old mourner Brian Magqaza. “She fought from beginning to the end. Go well Mama.”

Former South African presidents Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki also attended the funeral. Mourners booed when the presence of scandal-tainted Zuma was publicly acknowledged.

Foreign dignitaries at the funeral include the leaders of Namibia, Swaziland and the Republic of Congo, as well as American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and international supermodel Naomi Campbell.

Her “steely leadership…gave strength to us all. She taught us not to be limited in our thoughts,” said Campbell.

The township of Soweto is hugely symbolic in South Africa as it became a crucible of black resistance against white minority rule, which ended with elections in 1994.

Winnie Mandela’s husband became the first black president of democratic South Africa, but she refused to follow many other struggle-era politicians who moved from townships like Soweto to formerly white-only suburbs after the end of apartheid.

Instead she remained embedded in the community where she met Nelson Mandela at a bus stop in 1957.

Her body was buried at a privately run graveyard in Johannesburg’s upmarket Fourways suburb where two of her great-grand children are also buried.

– ‘Symbol of resistance’ –

The funeral closes the final chapter in the history of a woman who was exalted for her fearless defiance of a White Supremacy and brutal Apartheid rule in South Africa and birthed a new dawn of generation of women who will continue in the ‘I Am Winnie” legacy because the queen mother multiplied and her spirit will live on.

In the wake of her death tributes to her bravery, courage, independence and integrity dominating public commemorations.

In old age, Winnie Madikizela Mandela emerged as a respected elder dubbed “Mother of the Nation’ who was feted as a living reminder that she never gave up and allowed the apartheid regime to break her spirit.of her late husband Nelson Mandela who became South Africa’s first black president and of the long and celebrated struggle against the apartheid.

Most of their 38-year marriage was spent apart, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone as she kept his political dream alive.

On Saturday, a 21-gun salute was fired at her final resting place.

  • (ATLANTA) – March 5, 2017 – The Black Women Film Network (BWFN) celebrated their 20th anniversary March 2-4, 2017. Kicking off BWFN’s annual Black Women Film Summit on Thursday at the Center for Civil & Human Rights was a screening of the new FOX series, “Shots Fired.” Show creator Reggie Rock Bythewood was in attendance along with cast members DeWanda Wise and Jill Hennessy who all participated in post-screening Q&A moderated by HGTV host Egypt Sherrod.

Shots Fired” is an upcoming American ten part event drama television series set to be broadcast on Fox iin Fox ,premiering March 22,2017.

Fox’s “Shots Fired” is almost certain to prompt debate and discussion behind its provocative premise, which reflects some of the most explosive headlines of the day — the shooting of unarmed African American men by white police officers.

In the central story line of the 10-hour drama, the topic is given a surprising twist: The victim is a young white man and the shooter is an African American police officer. The shooting in a small town in North Carolina puts the community on edge. But the atmosphere becomes even more charged when the spotlight switches to the neglected murder of an African American teen, which reopens wounds that threaten to tear the town apart.

The series comes from the powerhouse couple of Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”) and Reggie Rock Bythewood (“Notorious”), who said in a statement that they were inspired by questions raised by their young son following the George Zimmerman trial in which Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. They hoped to create a project that would address “the policing of African Americans, our broken criminal justice system, and race-relations that would also ask difficult questions and spark real conversation and change.”

Giving the limited series more force is the cast, which includes Sanaa Lathan (“Love & Basketball”), Stephen Moyer (“True Blood”) and Oscar winners Helen Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss.

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Movie preview: Films opening through April 21

“A Dog’s Purpose,” from left; “Logan”; “Unforgettable”; and “The Lego Batman Movie.” (Joe Lederer / Universal Pictures | Ben Rothstein / Twentieth Century Fox | Karen Ballard / Warner | Warner Bros. Pictures)

Below are the films opening theatrically through April 21. Release dates and other details, as compiled by Kevin Crust, are subject to change. Sadly, “Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies” (Jan. 13) and “My Entire High School is Sinking Into the Sea” (2017 TBA) fall outside of this window

Jan. 20

Alone in Berlin

After their son is killed in World War II, a middle-aged German couple become activists spreading an anti-Nazi message across the city via postcards. With Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Brühl. Written and directed by Vincent Perez, based on the novel “Every Man Dies Alone” by Hans Fallada. IFC Films

Antarctica: Ice and Sky

French glaciologist Claude Lorius, whose work provided evidence of man-made global climate change, is profiled in this documentary. Directed by Luc Jacquet.Music Box Films


A overly trusting law student allows a violent couple to play on his suspicions that his stepfather arranged the car crash that left his mother in a coma. With Tye Sheridan, Stephen Moyer, Emory Cohen, Bel Powley. Written and directed by Christopher Smith. Magnet Releasing

The Founder

Michael Keaton stars as McDonald’s impresario Ray Kroc, who turned a Southern California burger joint into a billion-dollar business. With Nick Offerman, Linda Cardellini. Written by Robert D. Siegel. Directed by John Lee Hancock.Weinstein Co.

The Red Turtle

Stranded on an island with turtles, crabs and birds, a man experiences the milestones of being human in this silent animated film. Directed by Michael Dudok de Wit. Sony Pictures Classics


A man with 23 distinct personalties struggles with an emerging 24th that threatens to dominate the others. With James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula, Haley Lu Richardson. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Universal Pictures

Staying Vertical

A carefree filmmaker becomes a single father after he is seduced by a bohemian shepherdess. With Damien Bonnard, India Hair, Raphäel Thiéry. Written and directed by Alain Guiraudie. Strand Releasing

Trespass Against Us

The patriarch of a British crime family stops at nothing to keep his son in line when he begins thinking of another way of life for his own family. With Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshall, Killian Scott, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris. Written by Alastair Siddons. Directed by Adam Smith.A24

Worlds Apart

Three foreigners each find love with a Greek in this triptych set against the socio-economic turmoil of contemporary Greece. With J. K. Simmons, Christopher Papakaliatis (as Christoforos Papakaliatis), Andrea Osvárt. Written and Directed by Christopher Papakaliatis. Cinema Libre Studio

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel returns for his third outing as a former extreme sports star turned government agent embroiled in a global conspiracy. With Donnie Yen, Toni Collette, Samuel L. Jackson. Written by F. Scott Frazier, based on characters created by Rich Wilkes. Directed by D.J. Caruso. Paramount Pictures

Also: The Axe Murders of Villisca Horror.IFC Midnight … Bakery in BrooklynComedy. Gravitas Ventures Doobious Sources Comedy. Gravitas Ventures … My Father, Die Thriller. FilmRise Sailor Moon the Movie R Animated. Eleven Arts Saving Banksy Documentary. Parade Deck Films

Jan. 27

A Dog’s Purpose

The meaning of life is explored through one pooch and his humans. With Britt Robertson, KJ Apa, John Ortiz, Dennis Quaid, Josh Gad. Written by W. Bruce Cameron, Cathryn Michon, Audrey Wells, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky; based on the novel by Cameron. Directed by Lasse Hallström. Universal Pictures


Michael Murphy portrays an elderly Roman Catholic priest whose life is shaken by a disturbing visit from the past. With Suzanne Clement. Written and directed by Terrance Odette. Breaking Glass Pictures


Matthew McConaughey plays a prospector who teams with a geologist to hunt for treasure in the untamed jungles of Indonesia. With Bryce Dallas Howard. Written by Patrick Massett and John Zinman. Directed by Stephen Gaghan. TWC – Dimension

I Am Michael

James Franco stars in this story of the gay rights activist Michael Glatze, who had a religious awakening, renounced his former life and became a Christian pastor. With Zachary Quinto, Emma Roberts. Written and directed by Justin Kelly, based on a New York Times article by Benoit Denizet-Lewis.Brainstorm Media

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

The sixth and culminating episode in the action-horror franchise once again stars Milla Jovovich as the zombie-slaying Alice, returning to the Hive, where it all began. With Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts. Written and Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.Screen Gems

The Salesman

Forced to change apartments, a young Iranian couple in Tehran find their lives upended by violence linked to a previous tenant. With Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti. Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. Amazon Studios / Cohen Media Group

Strike a Pose

A documentary look at seven male dancers, six gay, one straight, who were part of Madonna’s 1990 “Truth or Dare” tour. Featuring Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes III, Salim “Slam” Gauwloos, Jose Gutierez, Kevin Stea, Sue Trupin, Carlton Wilborn. Directed by Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan. Bond/360

Also: Get the Girl Comedy. Vertical Entertainment Kung Fu Yoga Action comedy with Jackie Chan. Well Go USA Lost in Florence Romantic drama. Orion Pictures Midsummer in NewtownDocumentary. Participant Media / Vulcan Productions Paris 05:59 Romantic drama.Wolfe Releasing Sophie and the Rising Sun Drama with Julianne Nicholson and Margo Martindale. Monterey Media The Sunshine Makers Documentary. FilmRise They Call Us Monsters Documentary.Matson Films



Jude Law may play the ‘Young Pope’ but curiosity is his religion

Jude Law as Lenny Belardo and Diane Keaton as Sister Mary in
Jude Law as Lenny Belardo and Diane Keaton as Sister Mary in “The Young Pope.” (Gianni Fiorito / HBO)

Jude Law knows what you’re thinking.

An HBO series called “The Young Pope,” starring one of Hollywood’s most dashing leading men in the title role?

“Everyone was expecting, with me in the part and the name, oh, it’s going to be choir boys and prostitutes at the Vatican,” said Law, relaxing in his hotel suite on a bright afternoon in November. Instead, the most scandalous thing about Law’s character, a youthful but arch-conservative American pontiff, born Lenny Belardo, is his penchant for chain-smoking and guzzling Cherry Coke Zero.

Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, the 10-episode limited series defies easy categorization, even if its seemingly straightforward title has already inspired a popular Twitter meme. Dreamlike and methodically paced, “The Young Pope” is more interested in Big Questions of belief and the allure of tyranny than behind-the-scenes intrigue.

Though it is (relatively) light on the nudity and beheadings, the series is classic HBO — filmed on location in Italy, with sumptuous production values and A-list talent (Diane Keaton co-stars as Sister Mary, one of Lenny’s closest confidantes).

“The Young Pope” is Law’s first foray into series television in nearly two decades. While it’s become increasingly fashionable for movie stars of his stature to dabble in the small screen, the actor, 44, claims he’s agnostic about the medium and was more drawn to the opportunity to work with Sorrentino.

“There was a humanity, a wit, an ability to take quite personal stories and somehow elevate them to being global,” said Law of Sorrentino films including “Youth” and the Oscar-winning “The Great Beauty.”

Dressed in harem-style sweatpants and a cashmere hoodie, Law comes off as a bit of an aesthete; even his leisure wear makes a statement. He trusted himself in the hands of Sorrentino, a filmmaker with a flair for surreal imagery — “The Young Pope” opens with a dream sequence of a naked baby crawling on a pile of dolls— that can seem puzzling to the actors trying to bring it to life.

“It’s a director’s medium and you’re there to be a color on the palette,” he said. “If you trust them enough, you know that it will make sense in its entirety.”

In turn, Sorrentino says he was looking for a performer who could capture the “juxtaposition between childishness and virility, innocence and power” that characterizes Lenny, who is elected by cardinals who foolishly expect him to be their “telegenic puppet.”

Instead Lenny wields his power mercilessly, ushering in a new era of conservatism and dogmatism at the Vatican. He dresses down an elderly nun for greeting him with a kiss and takes the name Pius XIII, a callback to a more traditional era in the church.

Though he was not raised in a particular religion, Law takes an a la carte approach to belief, “gathering what I see as personally affecting from all faiths.”

“And like every other teenager, I dabbled with a bit of Buddhism,” he added.

To prepare for “The Young Pope,” the actor read papal diaries and church histories and was even granted a tour of parts of the Vatican. He was impressed by the presence of seemingly mundane facilities — a bank, a laundry, a pharmacy where “hemorrhoid cream sells very well,” he says with a laugh.

But ultimately it was more useful to focus on Lenny’s humanity rather than the institution he represents. He and Sorrentino, who describes Law as “an additional screenwriter,” spent a great deal of time discussing Lenny’s childhood and its effect on his faith.

Abandoned by his hippie parents, Lenny was raised by nuns in an orphanage, never feeling loved and believing that God would fill the void. Sister Mary is a kind of surrogate stage mother to Lenny — the Mama Rose to his Gypsy, Law jokes. (Keaton, he says, referred to him as “your eminence” throughout the production.) The actor’s parents were both adopted and, while they grew up in much different circumstances than Lenny, “I had an emotional attachment to what it is like to be an orphan,” he said.

Lenny is the opposite of the current Pope Francis, whose modesty and inclusive tone have endeared him to many. And this is quite by design, said Sorrentino, who was interested in exploring how the church might respond to Francis in the future. “In the Vatican too, like in other states, an alternation between progressiveness and conservatism is plausible.”

Lenny immediately orders a ban on photographs and merchandise bearing his image — not out of humility but because he wants to make himself as “unreachable as a rock star,” as mysterious as Daft Punk, Banksy or Stanley Kubrick. He delivers his first address at night, under the cover of darkness, so that no one can see his face.

Asked whether he sympathizes with Lenny’s basic assumption — that an air of mystery can be beneficial to an artist — Law replies with an enthusiastic “hell yes.”

Some of my greatest regrets are not being guided as a young actor. No one tells you you don’t have to do the photos. You look back and you think … why did I let all that stuff in?

Jude Law

“Some of my greatest regrets are not being guided as a young actor. No one tells you you don’t have to do the photos. You look back and you think … why did I let all that stuff in? But also why did I give all that stuff away?”

At times, “that stuff” has also been taken from Law, whose personal life has been the subject of almost relentless tabloid scrutiny since “The Talented Mr. Ripley” catapulted him to fame 17 years ago, most notably in the hacking of his voicemail by reporters at the News of the World.

And yet despite all this, Law is refreshingly unguarded, meeting in his hotel room without a publicist present. Gracious and polite, he pauses frequently to consider the questions he’s asked in a way that seems thoughtful rather than circumspect.

Although he calls the media scrutiny “deeply exhausting,” he’s never considered walking away from acting — at least not seriously. “Since people have been hunting and eating and cohabiting, we’ve also told each other stories. It’s a beautiful aspect of our communities. Why stop that?”

Law says he’s guided by a creative restlessness rather than any overarching career plan. He recalls the excitement of seeing John Gielgud in Peter Greenaway’s “Prospero’s Books.” “Here was this 80-something-year-old man performing naked and still putting himself out there. I just thought, what a career. Still doing stuff that probably scares the life out of you.”

While Sorrentino is currently writing a potential second season of “The Young Pope,” Law is coy about his possible return. For now, he’s focused on other projects, including a stage version of Luchino Visconti’s “Obsession,” directed by Tony-winning Ivo van Hove, at the Barbican in London this spring.

“I’m curious,” he says. “That’s my religion.”

Follow me @ MeredithBlake


‘Baskets,’ FX

“Baskets” (Ben Cohen / FX)

A sad clown story that’s actually about a sad clown, and the first great series of 2016, returns for a second season. Zach Galifianakis (co-creator with Louis C.K. and director Jonathan Krisel) takes the dual role of antagonistic twin brothers Chip and Dale Baskets, with Emmy winner Louie Anderson as their mother, Christine. Season 1 ended with Chip, the clown, hopping a freight train out of Bakersfield — “It’s OK, I’m a hobo,” he tells the railroad bulls who discover and deal with him — as Dale began some sort of relationship with Chip’s sole friend, Martha (the exquisitely deadpan Martha Kelly). Now Chip is on the road, less angry, but even sadder. “I went to France to study to become a clown,” he tells a pack of young travelers whose path he crosses, “but I don’t think clowns are needed as much since the world has become so clownish.” The show can be difficult to watch, not because the characters are horrible or cringe-worthy, but because they so desire love and so don’t know how to get it, or how to recognize it when it comes their way. As before, Anderson is something beyond brilliant. Making tender a role that could easily become grotesque, he is completely alive as Christine. There isn’t a line that comes from his mouth that doesn’t seem to have been born in the moment he speaks it.


The CW sends Archie, Betty, Veronica and the gang back to ‘Riverdale’ in a new twist on the classic comic

On paper, the concept sounds a bit mad: What if the freckled-faced teens of the wholesome “Archie” comics were wrapped up in a seedy murder mystery? And yet the CW’s “Riverdale,” which premieres Jan. 26, is arguably one of the most anticipated new series of 2017.

Ever since “Riverdale’s” pilot debut at San Diego Comic-Con last summer, fans have been buzzing about this “Twin Peaks” meets “Dawson’s Creek” drama.

Gone are the cartoonish glances and cross-hatched sideburns, the new Archie — as embodied by K.J. Apa — is ripped.

In fact, everyone in Riverdale — “The town with pep!” — has changed. Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) pops Adderall, Veronica Lodge’s (Camila Mendes) family is in ruins, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel) is no longer a senior citizen but a “Lolita”-sunglasses-wearing cougar and. oh yeah, Archie’s dad is Luke Perry.

We always try to tell a story that works both as an ‘Archie’ story and as a noir, David Lynch-ian kind of story.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

The plot picks up after the suspicious death of a Riverdale High student and teeters between teen drama and murder mystery for the rest of the season. “We always try to tell a story that works both as an ‘Archie’ story and as a noir, David Lynch-ian kind of story,” said Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, series creator and executive producer.

Aguirre-Sacasa’s eclectic work history laid the groundwork for the unique series. As a playwright, he wrote the book for Duncan Sheik’s musical adaptation of “American Psycho.” He’s also worked on several TV series including “Big Love,” “Looking” and “Glee” and, after 11 years writing comic books, he was named the chief creative officer for ”Archie” Comics.

Despite “Riverdale’s” new moody aesthetic of fog-filled streets (even Pop’s Chok’lit Shoppe is shrouded in mist), Aguirre-Sacasa insists that the central themes of the series will always return to those of the “Archie” comics he grew up reading.

“Our show is not that different from the core of ‘Archie’ from the 1940s or the 1950s. Archie, in the comics, was a good kid who always tried to do his best, frequently screwed up, made things worse before he made them better, and then learned a lesson. The Archie on our show is actually like that as well. He is basically a good kid but he’s in much more adult situations than he ever was in the comic book. He’s wrestling with that, but his essence is still the same.”

The same holds true for Betty and Veronica, he said, noting that the former is still the “perfect girl next door” who gets good grades and wants to be a cheerleader. “What we’re exploring is, what is the cost of being perfect?”

Executive producer Greg Berlanti, who oversees the CW comic book adaptations of “Arrow” and “The Flash,” can trace his “Archie” influences all they way back to his days working on “Dawson’s Creek.”

“This is one of the few instances where I’m working on something where it is actually [one of] the roots of the comic-book love triangle,” Berlanti said. “The original Dawson-Joey-Pacey was Betty-Archie-Veronica.”

KJ Apa as Archie, Camila Mendes as Veronica, Cole Sprouse as Jughead, and Lili Reinhart as Betty in
KJ Apa as Archie, Camila Mendes as Veronica, Cole Sprouse as Jughead, and Lili Reinhart as Betty in “Riverdale.” (Katie Yu / CW)

But no matter how timeless the central themes may be — and despite the addition of the first openly gay character from the “Archie” comics in Kevin Keller (Casey Cott) — the producers felt that the source material still needed an update for modern audiences.

“A lot of these comic books were written in a time where the bulk of people reading them and writing them were white,” Berlanti said. “That’s not the world we live in anymore. We were cognizant about changing the ethnicity and updating the characters to make sure we didn’t want to look at a poster of ‘Riverdale’ with just all white people on it.”

Veronica Lodge is now played by Latino actress Mendes and local Riverdale band Josie and the Pussycats is an all-black trio led by Ashleigh Murray, and yes they will play pep rallies that go full tilt “Friday Night Lights.”

The relationship between Betty and Veronica has also received tweaking. While the central love triangle remains intact, “Riverdale” has turned the trope slightly askew, refocusing more on the friendship between the two women and not their desire for Archie.

“I’m not interested in stories about girls fighting with each other,” says executive producer Sarah Schechter. “That, to me, feels really antiquated and it’s certainly not helpful. It doesn’t feel real to the depth of my relationship with other women as a woman. We were never interested in making them frenemies. They’re both complicated women.”

Not all characters were destined for a total overhaul. Archie is still very much a red-head, a fact that Apa is reminded of every two weeks when his hair is bleached down and re-dyed, “The first time I did it, I was sitting in the salon for about 10 hours.” Apa says. “I remember staring at myself and thinking, ‘I’m going to be bald by the time we finish this.’”

Even though the actor hails from New Zealand, Apa believes “Riverdale” has global appeal, with the great unifier being, once again, surviving high school. “[Archie’s] figuring out, through trial and error, his relationships with people, with Betty and Veronica, with girls, with his career choice. Is it music or his football? And he just wants to find his passion and he wants to follow it. I think people can relate to that, a lot of people went through the same thing in high school. I know I did,” he says.

But the show is not aimed just at teens, with the adult population sprinkled with faces that will be familiar to parents including Madchen Amick (“Twin Peaks”) as Betty’s harridan mom, Skeet Ulrich (“Scream”) as leader of Riverdale’s criminal element and Molly Ringwald as Archie’s mother.

“I think there’s a reason why ‘Riverdale’ plays really well to adults, because we were all teenagers, and I think we all still feel a little bit of that: ‘Who are we and how do we define ourselves and what’s important to us?’ It’s an ongoing process,” explains Schechter. “A part of you is a teenager forever.”


‘Z: The Beginning of Everything,’ Amazon

Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and David Hoflin as F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Amazon series drama
Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald and David Hoflin as F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Amazon series drama “Z: The Beginning of Everything.” (Nicole Rivelli / Amazon Prime Video)

A “bio series” focused on Zelda Sayre, later Fitzgerald, of the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Fitzgeralds — the Fitzgerald many have found the more compelling of the two.

Adapted by the team of Nicole Yorkin and Dawn Prestwich (“The Killing”) from Therese Anne Fowler’s historical novel, the series is unusually convincing both for an American period piece and for a biopic, that most treacherous of dramatic forms.

Christina Ricci, the former Wednesday Addams, may not be the first actress you’d imagine to play the belle of 1918 Montgomery, Ala. — physically, she doesn’t resemble Zelda at all — but she has spirit to burn, a fierce intelligence and in her mid-30s is both completely credible as a rule-bending, skinny-dipping, cigarette-smoking, party-loving teenager and not too young to play the character through the rest of her short, fabulous, finally circumscribed life.

The series promises to take the couple from their meeting in Montgomery to the New York high life into which Scott’s early success catapulted them — to expatriate Paris and on into a world that eventually had no use for them; for now, the first season is all young love, first novel and heady days. With Christina Bennett Lind as Zelda’s childhood pal Tallulah Bankhead; David Strathairn, always a bonus, as the exasperated Judge Sayre; and David Hoflin as the eventual author of “This Side of Paradise,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Tender Is the Night” and “The Last Tycoon,” which also is being adapted as an Amazon series.


‘I Am Not Your Negro’

In times of social and political uncertainty, one man often is referenced by cable news pundits, community advocates and college students: writer and activist James Baldwin. Seen as a literary solace for many, Baldwin authored seminal works, including the much-cited “The Fire Next Time,” “Giovanni’s Room” and “Notes of a Native Son.”

Like blueprints on how to navigate and de-center white supremacy, racism and prejudice, Baldwin’s words, to some, pave the way to the future. Director Raoul Peck’s critically acclaimed documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” follows in this same vein.

The film relies solely on the words of Baldwin’s unfinished novel, “Remember This House,” an attempt to tell the story of race in modern America through the lives and assassinations of three of his friends: Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. Voiced by Samuel L. Jackson, it has no talking heads, instead using archival footage, sound and smart editing to drive its point.


’24: Legacy,’ Fox

Corey Hawkins and Charlie Hofheimer on
Corey Hawkins and Charlie Hofheimer on “24: Legacy.” (Ray Mickshaw / FOX)

Can Fox’s iconic “24” survive a 25th hour?

That’s one of the most intriguing questions facing viewers at the start of the new year when Fox reboots “24” with “24: Legacy,” which puts a whole new spin on the premise of a thriller playing out in real time.

The “24” brand has been off the air since the 2014 finale of the limited series “24: Live Another Day.”

Back is the explosive opening title, the “events unfold in real time” introduction, the on-screen running clock and the breakneck pace.

Not back is Kiefer Sutherland, the heart and soul of the series with his portrayal of Jack Bauer, the world-weary spy who had to save the world several times from enemy forces. (Sutherland is now trying to run the country as a lower-level Cabinet member who is unexpectedly promoted to president of the United States in ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” which is in the midst of its first season.)

This version of “24”, which debuts Feb. 5 following the Super Bowl, stars Corey Hawkins, best known for playing Heath on “The Walking Dead” and Dr. Dre in the film “Straight Outta Compton.” Hawkins plays Eric Carter, an Army Ranger and the leader of a raid on a Middle Eastern terrorist cell. Now, the survivors of that cell are out to track Carter and his fellow warriors in an effort to secure a weapon stolen during the raid that will unleash an attack on America.

Fox is taking a huge risk with “24: Legacy,” replacing a veteran star like Sutherland with a relatively unknown African American actor. No other characters from the original series — at least in the first few episodes — are present (they couldn’t even bring back Chloe?). Though there will be a few familiar faces, including Miranda Otto and Benjamin Bratt, the supporting cast is largely new — and culturally diverse.

Still, many of the elements that helped make “24” a hit — car and foot chases; double- and triple-crosses — are front and center.

It will be interesting to see whether the show’s devoted fans will keep it ticking beyond this season.


‘Detroiters,’ Comedy Central

Tim Robinson, left, and Sam Richardson in the Comedy Central series
Tim Robinson, left, and Sam Richardson in the Comedy Central series “Detroiters.” (Comedy Central)

Sam Duvet and Tim Cramblin are admen, but with none of the style, savvy or skills of Don Draper and Roger Sterling. The old friends and Detroit locals, played by real-life old friends and Detroit locals Sam Richardson (“Veep”) and Tim Robinson (“Saturday Night Live”), are advertising execs of the low-budget variety – full of small ideas and big aspirations.

Cramblin Advertising was once respected for its weighty accounts with Delta and Budweiser, but since the low-achieving Tim took it over from his father (who went insane), the firm now specializes in late-night TV ads for local hot tub kings, children’s furniture outlets and shady accident attorneys.

The two strive to regain the agency’s past glory by landing their first big account with Chrysler, but somehow their campaign ideas (“Jesus Chrysler, What a Car!”) keep missing the mark. The 10-episode weekly series follows the duo’s quest to land a big one, even if the two awkward buddies with “Loser” practically printed across their out-of-date Gap polo shirts have no idea how to get there.

Co-created and written by Richardson and Robinson, “Detroiters” also features guest spots by Keegan-Michael Key, Michael Che, Steve Higgins and Malcolm Jamal-Warner, among others. The show’s executive producer, Jason Sudeikis, also costars here as the hard-to-please Chrysler VP. The absurdly funny chemistry between him, Richardson and Robertson, and the show’s clever references to the Motor City’s culture and scenery, make the series a unique and wonderfully quirky ride through advertising’s not-so-sexy underbelly.


‘John Wick: Chapter Two’

Director : Chad Stahelski
Cast : Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Ruby Rose

No one expected much from the first “John Wick.” Looking at the cast list and synopsis, it seemed as if it could’ve been the kind of action-thriller that airs at 11 Sunday night on some basic-cable network: Keanu Reeves plays the shadowy title figure, who kicks off a revenge spree after Russian thugs kill his dog.

And, yes, that is pretty much what “John Wick” is. It is also the kind of grindhouse, exploitation fun that Hollywood doesn’t make any more, executed with style and verve by directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch — themselves stuntmen, fight choreographers and second-unit directors making the leap to the big chair. “John Wick” made $86 million worldwide off an estimated $20-million budget. With that kind of math, you get a sequel.

This time around, it doesn’t seem that a puppy needs to die in order to prompt Wick — again played by Reeves like a world-weary Neo, able to work ballistic miracles with a gun in his hand — to commit mayhem. And anyone who grew up on the action cinema of the ’80s and ’90s is already in line for popcorn.


‘Planet Earth II,’ BBC America

A scene from
A scene from “Planet Earth,” which aired on the Discovery Channel in 2006. (Discovery Channel / BBC)

After a divisive political season, it can be a comfort to return to a series that offers a riveting, sumptuously filmed reminder of the one unifying issue we can agree on: the beauty and wonders of the natural world. The first edition of the series, in 2006, helped usher in the HD era, and the sequel continues that legacy by going one better as the first BBC production filmed in 4K resolution — assuming you’re one of those early adopters. Having already aired in the U.K., the series (again narrated by Richard Attenborough) earned strong numbers with an average of more than 10 million viewers per night. It features jarringly intimate looks at locales that include “Islands,” “Mountains,” “Grasslands” and, intriguingly, “Cities.” Can zoomed-in looks at animals and their potentially endangered habitats heal the political divides of 2017? Probably not, but no program this year is going to look as stunning in the effort.


Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

Additional VIPs were BWFN founder Sheryl Gripper, BWFN Sponsor Chris Richardson from the Foote Welch Group at Morgan Stanley, “Shots Fired” actors Josh Chris and Steven Green, Da Brat (rapper/radio personality “Ricky Smiley Morning Show”), Joseline Hernandez (VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta”), Crystal Fox (OWN,“Tyler Perry’s The Haves and the Have Nots”), Dionne Farris (singer/songwriter), Gocha Hawkins (WE tv’s “L.A. Hair”), Jasmine Burke (Bounce TV’s “Saints & Sinners”), D. Woods (Recording Artist), DJ Fadelf, April Parker Jones (OWN, “Tyler Perry’s If Loving You Is Wrong), BWFN sponsor Jeremy Norman from Norman & Associates Real Estate Solutions, Young Money/Republic artist Shanell, and many more.

On Friday, the “Untold Stories” Awards Luncheon took place at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis and honored several VIPs whose work and careers have either inspired or paved the way for women of color in film and television. Honorees recognized were “Creative Power Couple” recipients Dondre Whitfield and Salli Richardson-Whitfield; “Industry Award” recipients Will Areu, vice president of Tyler Perry Studios, and Ozzie Areu, president of Tyler Perry Studios; “Trailblazer Award” recipient Tichina Arnold; “Rising Star” honoree Teyonah Parris, and “Founder’s Award” recipient Donna Lowry, veteran broadcast journalist and 20-year BWFN board member.

Additionally, four college students were awarded with scholarships during the luncheon: Danielle Boyd (New York University) received the Dr. Doris Derby Award, while Atiara Brown (Atlanta Technical College), Sarah Griffin (Atlanta Technical College) and Ariel Jones (Louisiana State University) — mom Melissa Jones accepted on Ariel’s behalf — won BWFN Scholarships.

After the luncheon, the “Reel Sista Talk” panel – an annual tradition where honorees engage in a no-holds-barred conversation about their lives and careers – featured honorees Salli and Dondre Whitfield, Donna Lowry, past honoree Terri J. Vaughn, and was moderated by former honoree Shante Bacon.

The Summit came to a close on Saturday, with a busy day of workshops, panels, a book festival, and film screenings. Attendees enjoyed a stand-up comedy class with Myra J, a kids acting class with Jonna Johnson, a “Hosting 101” class with Jasmine Adams and Summer Jackson-Cole, a “Self-Taping” audition class with Naylon Mitchell, a “Social Media 101” class with Nicole Harris, and a “Casting Tips” class with Tyler Perry Studios casting director Rhavynn Drummer.

The BWFN Book Festival, hosted by Donna Lowry, featured a number of authors presenting books on various topics: Olympic Gold Medalist Mel Pender (Expressions of Hope); recording artist Danny Boy Steward (Stranded on Death Row); romance novelist Ruth P. Watson (Cranberry Winter); celeb hairstylist and tv personality Gocha Hawkins (Gocha’s Blueprint to Business 101); former LaFace Records exec Sheri Riley (Exponential Living: Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are); Faghayai Ogoun (Chasing the Horizon); Marsalis (Elegia); news anchor Karyn Greer (I Am a Mother); and Lori Dixon James (Letters to My Daughter: While I Am of Good Health, Sound Mind & Sound Body).

ChooseATL presented the last panel of the day: “Secrets from the Set: Showrunners, Writers and Actors Take you Behind the Scenes of Hit TV Shows Produced in Atlanta.” After a brief presentation from ChooseATL executive director Kate Atwood, 135th Street Agency CEO Shante Bacon moderated a lively conversation with “Greenleaf” writer/story editor Erica Anderson, “Saints & Sinners” showrunner Ty Scott and “If Loving You Is Wrong” actress April Parker Jones.

Finally, the Summit closed with awards for the winning films from the BWFN-Bronzelens Film Festival screenings:

Miss Winn’s Garden – Best Audience Participation
Director: Shanalyna Palmer
Producers: Shanalyna Palmer, Lucy A. Fazely, Brenda Porter, Sishan Palmer, Barbara -Lee A. Palmer

Brazilian Wavy – Best Comedy
Director: Kirk Henriques
Producers: Kirk Henriques, Yusef Muhammand , Jasmine Burke, Chet Brewster

UNtitlED – Best Drama
Director: Mike Michaels
Producers: Winsome Sinclair, Don, Saint-Julia Vilnet

Sista in the Brotherhood – Best of Festival
Director: Dawn Jones Redstone
Producer: Roberta Hunte, PhD.

Special thanks to our 2017 Sponsors for making this year’s Summit a great success: 11Alive, The Foote Welch Group at Morgan Stanley, ChooseATL, Georgia Production Partnership, Norman & Associates Real Estate Solutions, the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Film & Entertainment, Spelman College, Bovanti Cosmetics, Classic Party Rentals, Nikki & Mallory and BodyFab.

To learn about the Black Women Film Network, visit
About Black Women Film Network

Established in 1997, the Black Women Film Network (BWFN) was founded to prepare black women to enter the film and television industries. The organization seeks to preserve the voice of these women through film and educational programs that empower and inform. A 501(c)3 non-profit, BWFN provides student scholarships, hosts screenings and workshops, and honors individuals who have excelled in this difficult industry.

Thousands of Mourners Attend Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s Memorial Service at Orlando Stadium .

Emotional tributes to anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela poured in on Wednesday during an hours-long memorial service attended by thousands at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium. Madikizela-Mandela died on April 2 at the age of 81.

“The embodiment of courage. The embodiment of resilience. The embodiment of strength,” poet and singer Mzwakhe Mbuli said during a performance at the service. “There’s no grave big enough to bury her legacy.”

The death of Madikizela-Mandela, often called the “Mother of the Nation,” has triggered widespread soul-searching in South Africa over the legacy of one of the nation’s most important fighters against racial discrimination, yet who was dogged by scandal.

During the decades of imprisonment of her husband, Nelson Mandela, Madikizela-Mandela helped keep the plight of the political leader and the gross injustices of the apartheid system in the global spotlight, her own face and voice becoming synonymous with the anti-apartheid struggle.

In the week since her death in a Johannesburg hospital, there has been a surge of support for a woman whose fearlessness and defiance helped bring end to apartheid but whose public image was tarnished by controversy.

Under the social media campaign “Winnie has not died she has multiplied,” scores of young women have posted pictures of themselves wearing doeks the traditional head wrap that MadikizelaMandela frequently wore.

    The ruling African National Congress, with which Madikizela-Mandela had a rocky relationship over the years, has held memorial events across the country, including Wednesday’s ceremony and an official funeral scheduled on Saturday.

    Swelling African hymns by the Soweto Gospel Choir brought the thousands attending Wednesday’s memorial to their feet and they swayed and sang along. Many attending wore T-shirts bearing MandikizelaMandela’s image. The crowd filled about half of the 40,000-seat stadium.

    MadikizelaMandela’s family members and supporters lashed out at her detractors during their speeches.

    “She gave everything she had,” said ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte. “For those of you whose hearts are unforgiving, sit down and shut up. This is our hero. This is our heroine.”

    Though she fought fiercely for democracy, the political career that MadikizelaMandela embarked on after the free elections in 1994 floundered. Mandela sacked his then wife as one of his deputy ministers in his first cabinet, and her stints as a lawmaker, a post she held until her death, were lackluster.

    “Was she a sinner or was she a saint?” Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asked during the memorial. “I believe, as (Nelson Mandela) did, that a saint is not somebody who never sinned. A saint is somebody who died trying.”

    Zendaya and Celebrate Announcement of $650K Grant to an Oakland School

    In 2015, Roses in Concrete Community School opened in East Oakland, California. With a name inspired by a book of poetry written by Tupac Shakur, the school aims to create a model for urban education that prioritizes the needs of youth and families in the community it serves. It’s founder, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, believes education is the way to help young people understand that they can transform not only their community, but the world. By creating the conditions for our youngest change-makers to flourish, this education model can be a pathway to building healthy and sustainable communities across the U.S.

    In the school’s first year, provided$750,000 to help launch its unique vision. And last Friday at Google’s San Francisco community space, teachers, students, artists, education advocates, Googlers and Oakland-native actress Zendaya celebrated the announcement of our additional $650,000 grant to help the school build a first-of-its-kind computer science (CS) curriculum, which will serve as a model for other schools across the U.S. The curriculum will be culturally and community relevant, building on Duncan-Andrade’s philosophy that education shouldn’t push students out of communities, but should instead help students transform them.

    Research shows that Black and Latino students are interested in learning CS, but are underrepresented in the field due to limited access to learning opportunities, coupled with the lack of relatable role models. Through this new program, Roses in Concrete helps students see the connection between CS and their communities, and hopes to equip them with the skills they need to solve real problems, starting in their own neighborhood.

    “The purpose of education is not to escape poverty, but to end it.” – Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade, Founder of Roses in Concrete Community School

    During the evening’s events, Roses students shared dance, art, and poetry performances for the crowd, which included Zendaya, an avid supporter of the school. Growing up in Oakland as the daughter of two teachers, she has fond memories of spending time in the same classrooms that now make up the Roses in Concrete campus, and credits pretending to grade papers as some of her earliest acting experience. During a student-led interview, Zendaya shared her appreciation for organizations like this progressive community school that are thoughtfully closing equity divides in her hometown. She encouraged the students to “Always lead with your heart and chase the happiness that fuels you,” and reminded them that technology is one possible medium for them to express themselves and make a positive difference.

    As a lab school, Roses in Concrete will share this new curriculum with national school leaders, policy makers and researchers. And alongside Roses, we can identify more ways to provide meaningful CS experiences to students of color, and by doing so, provide pathways for them to grow, thrive, and create change—in their own communities, and around the world.




    New series will follow the Grammy award-winning power couple as they raise their family in a faith-based household, while juggling multiple thriving careers

    TV One nnounced the start of production in Los Angeles for the new original docu-series WE’RE THE CAMPBELLS. The docu-series follows Gospel music power couple Warryn and Erica Campbell as they balance raising their family, building their own individual empires, growing their flourishing church ministry and maintaining their strong faith. Married since 2001, WE’RE THE CAMPBELLS will allow viewers to follow Warryn and Erica as they manage their hectic daily work schedules while fostering a healthy marriage and raising three children with the help of their core group of family and friends.

    Warryn and Erica Campbell on the Stellar Awards Red Carpet
    (Photo Credit: Earl Gibson III)
    Click here for downloadable photo

    At the center of this close-knit and loving musical family is Erica Campbell – in addition to her busy roles as a wife and mother, she is one half of the award-winning Gospel music super duo Mary Mary, an entrepreneur, co-host of the popular nationally-syndicated Reach Media program Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell and First Lady of a thriving church ministry. Her equally ambitious husband, award-winning music veteran Warryn Campbell, has produced music for many of today’s most influential artists, is the founder of record label My Block Inc., and Pastor of the fast-growing church ministry, California Worship Center.

    WE’RE THE CAMPBELLS will film between the family home city of Los Angeles and Dallas, where Erica divides her time while taping her daily radio program. Slated to premiere in June 2018, the nine episode docu-series will highlight the obstacles many families face while trying to balance careers, maintain a healthy marriage, and raising their three children Krista, Warryn III, and Zaya.

    WE’RE THE CAMPBELLS is produced for TV One by Entertainment One (eOne). Executive Producers are Tara Long, Mark Herwick, Kim McCoy, Warryn Campbell and Erica Campbell; Co- Executive Producer is Narvin Russaw. For TV One, Tia Smith is the Executive in charge and Sr. Director of Original Programming & Production; Donyell Kennedy McCollough is Sr. Director of Talent, and D’Angela Proctor is Head of Original Programming and Production.

    For more information about TV One‘s upcoming programming, including original movies, visit the network’s companion website at TV Oneviewers can also join the conversation by connecting via social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook(@tvonetv) using the hash tags #WERETHECAMPBELLS and #REPRESENT

    From red carpet to Frontpage

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