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Hollywood Stars Turn Out for Farewell Oprah Show

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(Reuters) - Oprah Winfrey neared the end of her quarter-century reign on national television on Tuesday night with a star-studded send-off featuring Beyonce, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan and many others who honored the talk show queen's efforts to boost education and fight poverty.

"She's a self-made woman who's been at the top of her game for over 25 years -- and she's still kicking ass," Madonna told a delighted audience of about 13,000 in a Chicago arena.

Wearing a purple gown, the pony-tailed Winfrey basked in the night of tributes from A-list celebrities and friends. Billed as "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular" because Winfrey was kept in the dark about the guest list, the show will air in two parts on May 23 and 24.

Winfrey's final original "Oprah Winfrey Show", whose contents are still under wraps, will air on May 25, bringing to a close 25 years of the most-watched daytime talk show on U.S. television.

"Your show has turned surprise into an art form," actor Tom Hanks told Winfrey on Tuesday. "Oprah Winfrey, today you are surrounded by nothing but love. Your studio was not big enough to hold it all, so here we are," Hanks said, gesturing around the glittering basketball arena and concert venue.

Madonna praised Winfrey for her courage. "It's no secret that millions of people are inspired by Oprah," she said. "I am one of those people ... She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular."

A slimmed-down Aretha Franklin, now recovered from major surgery six months ago, sang "Amazing Grace" to a stunned Winfrey. Beyonce, who performed her new single "Run the World (Girls), said that because of her "women everywhere have graduated to a new level of understanding of what we are, who we are, and who we can be."


Maria Shriver, whose estranged husband Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday admitted fathering a child in an adulterous relationship, also came to Chicago to pay tribute to her 30-year friendship with Winfrey. "You've given me love, support, wisdom, and most of all, the truth," Shriver said.

A beaming Cruise told Winfrey it was an honor to have been on her show 12 times since 1988. Referring to his first appearance on the show 23 years ago, Winfrey quipped, "You looked like you were 10."

The special also included appearances by Will Smith, Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, singer-actress Queen Latifah, Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Jerry Seinfeld, John Legend, broadcaster Diane Sawyer and basketball star Michael Jordan.

Winfrey, regarded as the most influential woman on U.S. television, is wrapping the final season of her syndicated Chicago-based show to devote more energy to her fledgling OWN cable network, which launched in January.

On a night of both performances and tributes, Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder serenaded Winfrey with "Isn't She Lovely" and country band Rascal Flatts sang "I Won't Let Go".

R&B star Usher closed the evening by singing the rousing spiritual "Oh Happy Day" and was joined by Winfrey and many of the other celebrities, clapping and singing.

Overcome by emotion, Winfrey declared, "I feel the love, and I thank you for it."

(Reporting by Matthew Lewis, editing by Jill Serjeant)

Free Movies on Main Street in Downtown Riverside

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By Natasha Ferguson –

Riverside Downtown Partnership in conjunction with the City of Riverside and its Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department launched a new movies series last year. The second annual ‘Movies on Main’ series returns with blockbuster G-rated and PG movies the entire family will enjoy. These free movies will be shown on Main Street between University and Mission Inn Avenue projected on an inflatable outdoor screen.

Scheduled movies this summer include:

• July 14 - How to Train Your Dragon, about a hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons and becomes the unlikely friend of a young dragon himself.

• July 21 – Despicable Me, tells the story about a criminal mastermind who uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, only to find their love profoundly changes him for the better.

• July 28 – Karate Kid, stars Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith and Taraji P. Henson about a mom whose work causes her to move to China with her young son who embraces kung fu taught to him by a master.

• August 11 – Toy Story 3, takes you on an eventful journey when the toys are mistakenly delivered to a daycare center instead of the attic of their owner who goes away to college.

• August 18 – Nanny McPhee Returns, is a magical tale where the nanny arrives to help a harried young mother who is trying to run the family farm while her husband is away at war. She uses her magic to teach the woman’s children and their two spoiled cousins’ five new lessons.

• August 25 – Tangled, a twist to the fable of the magically long-haired Rapunzel who has spent her entire life in a tower, when a runaway thief stumbles upon her and opens her up to the discovery of the world and who she is for the first time.

The evening will start with live musical entertainment at 7 p.m. followed by the movie screening at 8 p.m. Early arrival is strongly recommended to secure a good spot and attendees can bring their own chair or blanket. Nearby downtown restaurants will be open late, and refreshments and goodies are available for purchase onsite.

For more information and to view movie trailers visit www.RiversideDowntown.org or call 951.341.6550.

Bob Marley Exhibit Opens in L.A. on Anniversary of Death

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(Reuters) - Bob Marley's battle with cancer ended in a Miami hospital 30 years ago on Wednesday, bringing to a premature close the life of reggae music's most important standard-bearer.

His son, David "Ziggy" Marley, who was 12 at the time and has gone on to reggae stardom in his own right, considers the anniversary a day for celebration rather than mourning.

"It's not the happiest day, but we've learned to live with it," he told Reuters on Wednesday. "The actual day is a day of journey. It's a day of movement. We accept it as that. We're not here to cry or to be sad. We're here to celebrate and be happy."

Marley was on hand at the Grammy Museum where an exhibit about his father opened on Wednesday and runs through October 2. The Marley family worked closely with the museum's curators, lending memorabilia from its personal collection.

Perhaps the most significant item in the display is Marley's primary guitar, a modified mahogany Gibson Les Paul. The curators said it has never been displayed in the United States. The guitar is part of the permanent collection at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.

"That was his baby," Marley said. "That was his weapon. That's what he held closest to him onstage, offstage. It's made of wood, it's natural. Some of Bob's sweat, whatever, is in that wood, that guitar."

He recalled that he used to play the guitar himself on stage until he was told it should be placed in the museum.

"I was very sad about that," he said with a laugh. "I wish I could still be jammin' on it."

The exhibit also includes an embroidered blue denim stage jacket worn by Marley, as well as candid photographs, old concert posters and records. Music clips and video footage are also displayed, and drum machines allow visitors to try and play along with Marley's songs.

Marley said the exhibition could be better appreciated while being high, a nod to Bob Marley's use of cannabis as one of the most high-profile adherents of the Rastafari movement.

"Spiritually high, or high on herb," he said. "But no drugs, though. No other thing. Natural high."

The herb unifies a pair of new projects Ziggy Marley has been working on, a superhero comic book titled "Marijuanaman" and a new album called "Wild and Free."

In the comic, Marijuanaman is forced to leave his planet after its natural supply of THC in the atmosphere is depleted. He lands on Earth, inevitably in a marijuana field, and is befriended by a community of environmentalists.

The drug gives him super powers and he helps his friends battle an evil pharmaceutical company. He has a girlfriend, of course, named MJ, which is slang for marijuana.

Actor and noted hemp advocate Woody Harrelson appears on the title track of the album, dueting with Marley in a spirited declaration of the beneficial effects of cannabis. It comes out on June 14.

(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Christine Kearney)

Madea’s Big Happy Family Premieres

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By Lea Michelle Cash –

The Hollywood premiere of Tyler Perry’s “Madea’s Big Happy Family” recently took place at Dome at Arclight Hollywood on Sunset.

Madea, everyone’s favorite wisecracking, take no prisoners, demanding respect grandma, jumps into action when her niece, Shirley (played by Loretta Devine) received the news that after seven years of fighting cancer—it has returned and she is gravely ill and dying. Shirley, a strong women of faith, has the heartfelt desire to gather her grown children for a family dinner to share the news with them. Shirley’s children are distracted, engulfed in problems of their own, and cannot seem to get it together, so Madea’s sister Bam (played by Cassi Davis) asks her to assist with bringing the family together because no one can bring a family together like Madea.

The nearly two-hour movie is filled with hilarious moments of love, respect and tenderness regarding family ties and heartfelt drama that offers a stamp of healing seasoned with hope and humor.

Madea’s Big Happy Family marks Perry’s eleventh film production in approximately six years. His signature stories reflecting loss, abuse, broken lives and family dysfunction are designed to bring healing through laughter. Over the years, the public has grown to love Madea (played by Tyler Perry), a truth teller and tough love, politically incorrect humanitarian who loves her family and her life.

On the afternoon of the premiere, I was able to spend some time with David and Tamela Mann, the multifaceted duet, since 1999, have played the roles of Mr. Brown (David) and Cora (Tamela).

Cora is Madea’s daughter and Mr. Brown is identified as her father. In Madea’s Big Happy Family, Cora wants to know if Mr. Brown is her real father and a second plot line begins to unfold. David and Tamela Mann are gospel singers as well as actors. The pair have been married 22 years. David said, “This journey my wife and I have taken over the years with Tyler Perry has been a remarkable ride and we never imagined that we would be as successful as we are today. It’s been a blessing and I have taken nothing for granted.”

Tamela said, “Making this movie was a beautiful experience because it offers such hope to any family that broken things can get better if you come together as a family and communicate through the power of bringing God in your life.”

The movie has opened in movie theaters across the country. It is based on Tyler’s Stage play, Madea’s Big Happy Family.”

Rueben Cannon who has cast hundreds of television series, made for television movies as well as motion pictures, co-produced the film along with Roger Bobb, Ozzie Areu. Joseph Genier and Michael Paseorneck. A colorful array of actors and actresses such as Natalie Desselle Reid, Bow Wow, Lauren London, and the popular Old Spice model Isaiah Mustafa delivers highenergy performances.

Drummer Peter Erskine Featured At CSUSB Jazz Fest

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Poem, a quartet featuring legendary jazz drummer Peter Erskine, will headline Cal State San Bernardino’s first jazz festival, which also will feature the CSUSB Jazz Band as well as the Riverside City College Jazz Ensemble.

Scheduled for May 21 from 7-10 p.m. in the campus Performing Arts Recital Hall, the jazz fest will bring the rest of Erskine’s quartet comprised of award-winning musicians Alan Pasqua, Darek Oles and Bob Mintzer.

Erskine will hold a special drum clinic at 4 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building, Room 127, for all interested drummers and percussion students.

Cal State San Bernardino music major Curtis Pettygrove has followed Erskine’s career and will have the opportunity to meet the man who has been a source of inspiration.

“Meeting Peter in person and being able to interact with him fulfills a dream that I have had since I started playing drums,” said Pettygrove.

A two-time Grammy Award winner, Erskine began his career in 1972 playing first for the Stan Kenton Orchestra, then with Maynard Ferguson and with Weather Report, where his collaborations with bassist Jaco Pastorius were key to the group’s success. He has also toured or recorded with Diana Krall, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and the Berlin and Los Angeles philharmonics.

When the jazz fest appears at CSUSB, Erskine will just be back from playing in the pit and on stage at the Royal Opera House in London for the premier of “Anna Nicole.”

The Riverside City College Jazz Ensemble, led by Charlie Richard, has been playing festivals and touring internationally for many years. Some of its gigs include appearances at the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of Texas and in Japan.

Directed by Bob Knop, the CSUSB Jazz Band opened for B.B. King when the blues guitarist performed at CSUSB in 2009. At the university, the band also has opened for blues artist John Cary and the Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band.

Tickets for the CSUSB Jazz Fest are $25 for general admission and $10 for students. They can be purchased by calling the CSUSB music department box office at (909) 537-7516 or online at the music department’s website at music.csusb.edu.

For a digital image of Peter Erskine or his quartet, Poem, call the CSUSB Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537- 5007.

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BVN National News Wire