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First Lady Michelle Obama to Appear on 'iCarly'

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(Reuters) - First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on children's TV show "iCarly," -- a favorite program of her daughters -- to promote her initiative to support military families, the network behind the show said on Wednesday.

Michelle Obama chose "iCarly" because the lead character, Carly Shay who is played by Miranda Cosgrove, is the daughter of an Air Force colonel, according to the cable network Nickelodeon.

In the episode that will feature the first lady, Carly's father is not able to make it home for his birthday as planned. Michelle Obama will talk to Carly about how she is serving her country by being in a military family, the network said.

The episode will be shot on Monday and is scheduled to air in early 2012.

In the show "iCarly," which was created in 2007, Carly and her friends are constantly busy making a webcast for and about kids their age. The episode with Obama also revolves around a webcast.

Michelle Obama has said that she watches "iCarly" with her daughters, Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9. The first lady, and vice-president Joe Biden's wife Jill, recently launched an initiative called Joining Forces to encourage all Americans to help soldiers and their families.

Scotty McCreery Crowned Season 10's American Idol

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

It took America, two days and 122 million votes to crown the North Carolina native, country western crooner, Scotty McCreery, 17 the next American Idol. The excitement mounted and the hoopla soared, as America wondered who would be their winner—Scotty or 16-year-old Lauren Alaina from Georgia. I was there the nights that my favorites won Idol: Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Jordin Sparks, David Cook and now Scotty. I saw them each, minutes after their crowning achievement. I have brought into the excitement and for me ten years later—it never gets old. This year’s top 13 are amazing talented individuals.

My sister said from day one the winner was going to Scotty. Her prediction came true on May 25, 2011 as Scotty’s dream came true.

This year’s finale held at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles was a spectacular show.

From Beyonce to Kirk Franklin, from Tim McGraw to Steven Tyler the idol stage rocked with musicians in all their glory. Even the legends Gladys Knight, Tom Jones, Tom Bennett and Bono stepped out to share their recognizable voices. The results of these combinations produced unforgettable performances.

What struck me as wonderful this year were the families that gathered. There were children and tweens everywhere throughout the Staple Center areas. Hundreds of dads holding the hand of their daughters decked out in tiaras and princess gear holding their creative signs drawn featuring their favorite Idol. American Idol judges, Steve Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson along with Jimmy Levine had guided the Idol’s all season. A humbled Scotty throughout the competition listened to their wisdom and improved as time flew by.

It is interesting to note, one day after winning the American Idol title, Scotty’s debut single, “I Love You This Big” was the #1 song on iTunes.

America got it right. “They always do,” says Ryan Seacrest, the show’s loved host and tween heartthrob.

If you think that, you have what it takes to be America’s next idol. Season 11 2012 tryouts will be held on July 8, 2011 in San Diego.

The location and time is to be announced so check out the idol website.

Superstar Stevie Wonder Challenges Students to be Great

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Music legend makes a surprise visit to Norco College

By Chris Levister –

When one is called upon to define musical genius, few would have any difficulty associating Stevie Wonders' creativity with the term. Wednesday, May 25 more than 200 Norco College students and community members got a taste of the music icon’s genius during a riveting event billed as “A Conversation with Stevie Wonder: Overcoming Challenges to Achieve the Dream.”

A grateful and cheering audience sat captivated at the 168-seat Norco College Little Theater as the multiple Grammy Award-winner, Academy Award-winner and official United Nation’s Messenger of Peace passionately yet effortlessly delivered a powerful message of inspiration and hope, flavored by his signature street humor on overcoming hardship.

“Sometimes, I feel I am really blessed to be blind because I probably would not last a minute if I were able to see things.”

Sitting on stage in an overstuffed chair flanked by students from the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) initiative and Norco College President Dr. Brenda Davis, Wonder opened the event with a touching harmonica rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“To break the ice, we’ve got a few questions for you Mr. Wonder,” said Davis.

“Don’t call me Mr. Wonder, Dr. Davis, call me Stevie.” Wonder responded, flashing his signature grin. The crowd cheered wildly.

“I wanted to come here after hearing a few of you are struggling to overcome challenges to achieve your dreams,” said Wonder who was joined by his two sons.

“I was told in junior high I would never become anything good said,” student David Casillas. I was never told to go to college to get a good education. The norm was to become a mechanic. I had a stroke and had to stop working,” said Casillas. “I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and do something about my challenge – I enrolled here at Norco College – I’m proud to say I beat the statistics. I have one more semester before I complete my degree.”

“I was told a similar thing,” Wonder said. “As a kid I was told I had three strikes against me. I was Black, I was blind and poor.”

“Being a smart ass, I said, I’ve got four strikes, I’m bowlegged, too.” The audience burst into laughter.

Other students shared stories of mental and physical struggle, unexpected pregnancy and feelings of parental abandonment.

EOPS was launched in California more than 40 years ago during the Civil Rights era to give a lift to students facing economic and academic challenges.

Wonder who began his singing career with Motown Records at the age of 11 spoke candidly about his late mother, growing up poor and blind in Detroit and his sense of duty to inspire others.

He lightheartedly told the story of his days in the alley “when we hung out using bad words and ‘cracking’ on each other’s mama.”

“Thanks to some tough lessons from my mother, I don’t use bad words anymore but I haven’t lost my sense of humor,” he said in a baritone voice.

“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love,” he added, “Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes, doesn't mean he lacks vision.”

“Whatever you have dealt with, whatever you have overcome, use your story, tell your story to inspire the next generation….Even those who are older than you,” Wonder told the students.”

“……Because if they have negativity in their hearts, they are not taking advantage of the blessings of life.”

Wonder plays 10 instruments, he’s recorded more than thirty U.S. Top 10 #1 hits on the pop charts as well as 20 R&B #1 hits. He has won 22 Grammy Awards (most by a solo artist) as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a member of the Rock and Roll and Songwriters halls of fame.

He is lauded for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the U.S. and his 2008 campaign to help elect the nation’s first African American President, Barack Obama.

He told the audience he would donate Braille reading equipment to the college noting “Ya gots to work with what you gots to work with.” He was presented with plaque in Braille commemorating the 20-year Norco campus’ history.

With Davis at his side Wonder sifted the event into high gear with a rousing mini concert playing keyboards and singing several of his hits including “Signed Sealed and Delivered I’m Yours”, and “My Cherie Amour”.

The crowd jumped to their feet clapping and singing along. “This is a stellar moment for Norco College,” said Davis.

“His ability to "see" the world's ugliness as well as the world's beautifulness and then transcribing what he has "seen" is nothing short of genius. His message, his grace, his humanity is seared in our collective memories. This was incredible.”

Dr. Davis was joined by Riverside Community College District Chancellor Dr. Gregory Gray and a host of community dignitaries.

“Perhaps one of the greatest joys said Gray, is seeing this all play out during Dr. Davis’ reign. Stevie Wonder is a national treasure. This is a proud moment for Norco College and our entire community.”

Last week, Dr. Davis announced her retirement after 33 years of service to the District and Norco College.


Oprah Winfrey Bows Out with Simplicity, Gratitude

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(Reuters) - No guests, no makeovers, no giveaways.

Oprah Winfrey kicked off her last-ever original episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" by telling a studio audience that the broadcast would be a simple, celebrity-free affair focused on what her audience has meant to her.

"You and this show have been the great love of my life," a tearful Winfrey told viewers in "The Oprah Winfrey Finale," taped before a studio audience of 400 on Tuesday afternoon and broadcast on Wednesday morning.

"This last show is really about me saying thank you," she said. "It is my love letter to you."

Wearing a simple pink dress, Winfrey took the stage to a standing ovation and showed clips from some of her earliest broadcasts while sharing her gratitude and life lessons with viewers.

"Thank you, America. There are no words to match this moment."

Winfrey, 57, was a pioneer in the art of confessional television and in promoting discussion of formerly taboo subjects including incest, rape, sexual abuse and depression.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" also became the go-to place for celebrities and politicians to promote new ventures and to apologize publicly for their indiscretions.

The Oprah Book Club, started 15 years ago, championed 65 titles and has almost 2 million members. In one memorable 2004 show, Winfrey gave all 276 audience members a new car.

Winfrey announced in November 2009 that she would end her popular talk show after 25 years. She is expected to focus in the next few years on her cable channel OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), which launched in January 2011.

In contrast to the glitzy "surprise spectacular" featuring Beyonce, Madonna and Tom Hanks, taped in a basketball arena and which aired on Monday and Tuesday, the final broadcast was a humble recap of the values Winfrey believed in.

At one point the host introduced from the audience her fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Duncan, whom she praised as an early "liberator" who made her feel valued.

Winfrey urged viewers to find their calling, make the world a better place and take control of their lives. One of her most cherished tributes, she said, was a letter from a viewer who said, "Oprah, watching you be yourself makes me want to be more myself."

Near the end of the hour-long broadcast, Winfrey spoke of her roots in rural Mississippi. "It is no coincidence a lonely little girl who felt not a lot of love, even though my parents and grandparents did the best they could ... It is no coincidence that I grew up to feel the genuine kindness, affection, trust, and validation from millions of you, all over the world.

"From you, whose names I will never know, I learned what love is. You and this show have been the great love of my life."

Winfrey gave no hint of her future plans but urged viewers to keep in touch at her email address, oprah@oprah.com

(Reporting by Matthew Lewis, Chicago newsroom)

Playboy Jazz Festival Presents 'Jazz On Film'

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Esteemed jazz archivist Mark Cantor will return to host the Playboy Jazz Festival’s annual acclaimed ‘Jazz on Film’ night, Wednesday June 8th at 7:30 p.m. The event will be held again this year in cooperation with Ebony Repertory Theatre at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (NHPAC) on Washington Boulevard.

Admission is free, although tickets are required. Tickets are available on a first come, first serve basis, beginning at noon on June 8th at the Holden box office. There is a limit of 4 tickets per person.

The evening will include a presentation of rarely seen film clips of vintage jazz performances featuring many of the most important artists who shaped the music over a period of almost a century. Film highlights will include a rare ballad medley by the John Coltrane Quartet, with the tenor sax giant joined by another master of the sax, Stan Getz, and a short homage to Los Angeles jazz master Buddy Collette, who passed away earlier this year.

Cantor will also show rare footage of the swinging allfemale orchestra of Ina Ray Hutton; interpretations from the “Great American Song Book” by such diverse talents as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra; and the Benny Goodman Trio, with Gene Krupa and Teddy Wilson, representing the first integrated jazz group to play regularly in public performances.

Classic moments from performances by the legendary Dave Brubeck and the Count Basie Big Band in full swing will also be shown.

‘Jazz on Film’ is part of Playboy's free community event series held in conjunction with this year’s annual Playboy Jazz Festival, set for, Saturday and Sunday, June 11th and 12th at the world famous Hollywood Bowl. Playboy Magazine and jazz have had a close association since the first issue of the magazine was published in December 1953, so it should come as no surprise that ‘Playboy Jazz on Film’ is the longest running program of its kind worldwide. The program moved to its present location last year. Formerly the site of a popular Los Angeles playhouse, Ebony Repertory Theatre is the resident company and operator of the NHPAC. Located in Mid-City, where the city’s top jazz clubs previously thrived during Los Angeles’ golden era of jazz in the 50’s and 60’s, Washington Boulevard between La Brea and Crenshaw was home to such legendary venues as The Parisian Room, The It Club, and the Hillcrest Club, where many of the greatest names in jazz played on a regular basis.

“Once again, we are thrilled to be aligned with such an important cultural event such as the Playboy Jazz Festival and with an historian of Mark’s caliber,” says Wren T. Brown, founder of Ebony Repertory Theatre. “The Mid- City community embraced the ‘Playboy Jazz on Film’ night with great enthusiasm. The overwhelmingly positive response to last year’s presentation left our audience yearning for more.”

“We’re looking forward to these seldom seen clips from the halcyon days of jazz. The Festival’s ‘Jazz on Film’ night represents another opportunity for the diverse communities of Los Angeles to come together to celebrate our artistic legacy and realize what a small city we really are.”

Playboy Jazz Festival President Richard Rosenzweig says, “The Playboy Jazz Festival is proud to present an exceptional event and rare glimpse into the history of jazz at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, especially considering the historical significance of the theatre’s unique location. The community’s involvement in the arts combined with Mark Cantor’s excellent program makes for an unforgettable evening and a special celebration of our city’s legacy of jazz.”

The Nate Holden Performing Arts Center is located at 4718 W. Washington Blvd. Lot parking is conveniently located one block east of the theatre on Washington and Vineyard Avenue. For more information about the Playboy Jazz Festival and its free events, please visit www.playboyjazzfestival.com.

For ticket information for ‘Jazz on Film’ visit the website or call the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center at (323) 964-9766.

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BVN National News Wire