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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.

Blue Man Group Theatrical Tour to Visit CA

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Blue Man Group, whose members bring their sense of curiosity, wonder and fun -- along with their impressive percussion talents to the stage - - star in six performances May 19-22 at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts, 562 W. Fourth St., San Bernardino.

Presented by NETworks Presentations and Blue Man Productions, the touring show is produced locally by Theatrical Arts International.

Performances are 8 p.m. May 19-20, 2 and 8 p.m. May 21, and 2 and 7 p.m. May 22. Tickets are $38.50-$77.50, www.ticketmaster.com, www.livenation.com, or theater box office at (909) 885- 5152.

Although Blue Man Group has toured previously with its Megastar arena rock show, this marks the first theatrical production to tour North America.

The theatrical tour features classic Blue Man moments as well as brand new content.

Blue Man Group on tour also features a new physical design centering around a proscenium-sized LED curtain and high-resolution screen creating an entirely new visual experience for Broadway houses across the nation.

“Until now, we have never mounted a touring version of our theatrical production,” says Blue Man Group cofounder Philip Stanton.

“The main reason for this is we needed to find a way to transform theaters of all shapes and sizes into spaces in which the Blue Man can intimately connect with the audience, where the audience can become engaged with the spirit of the show and of the Blue Man himself.

The critically acclaimed Blue Man Group creates experiences that defy categorization. Blue Man Group is best known for multi-media performances that feature three bald and blue characters who take the audience on a journey that is funny, intelligent and visually stunning. A live band, whose haunting tribal rhythms help drive the show to its climax, accompanies the Blue Men.

Blue Man Group is best known for its widely popular theatrical shows and concerts that combine music, comedy and multimedia theatrics to produce a totally unique form of entertainment. The blissful party atmosphere created at the live events has become the trademark of a Blue Man Group experience.

Currently, Blue Man Group theatrical shows can be seen in New York, Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando, Berlin, Stockholm, Vienna and Tokyo.

Delay Sought in Trial of Michael Jackson's Doctor

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(Reuters) - Defense attorneys on Friday asked for a delay in the manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor, saying they needed more time to review new reports from prosecution witnesses.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor scheduled a hearing on Monday to consider the request, which comes 10 days before the scheduled start of opening arguments on May 9.

Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter of the pop star, who died in June 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol.

Prosecutors said on Friday they wanted to call an additional medical expert at the trial to counter what are expected to be suggestions by Murray's defense team that the "Thriller" singer swallowed propofol by himself.

Murray's lawyers argued they needed more time to prepare to cross examine the new witness.

Murray has admitted giving Jackson propofol as a sleep aid as he rehearsed for a comeback tour, but denies it was a fatal dose. The 50 year-old singer died at his rented Los Angeles home on June 25, 2009.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)

Nigeria's Femi Kuti Lauded as Best World Music Artist

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(Reuters) - Nigerian singer Femi Kuti was named Best Artist in Songlines magazine's annual world music awards, winning praise for dynamic songs that railed against corruption and repression in Africa.

Kuti had stepped out of the shadow of his father, the legendary Fela Kuti, with his album "Africa for Africa," Songlines said.

"Songs like "Politics in Africa," "Can't Buy Me" and "Bad Government" all serve to underline his utter disdain for the corrupt politicians of his native Nigeria and other African nations -- a theme that continues to be pertinent today with events happening across North Africa and Ivory Coast," it said.

English folk band Bellowhead was named as Best Group, AfroCubism as Best Cross-Cultural Collaboration, and Indian singer Raghu Dixit as Best Newcomer.

Bellowhead, whose current album is called "Hedonism," is known for rambunctious live shows in which the 11 members swap instruments and perform in various combinations.

"Their live shows have been sensational," Songlines publisher Simon Broughton told Reuters.

AfroCubism brought together musicians from Cuba and Mali in a long-delayed project. They had originally planned to record in Havana 14 years ago but the Malians didn't make it and the Cubans went on to record the enormously successful "Buena Vista Social Club."

The collaboration was finally realized when they met in Madrid in 2009 and they have been touring since then with their fusion of music from both sides of the Atlantic.

Raghu Dixit hails from the south Indian state of Karnataka. and is already a big star back home.

"The music is Indian folk-rock -- very accessible to a Western audience," Broughton said.

The nominees are selected Songlines readers, with the final decision made by the magazine's editors.

Broughton said the world music scene was thriving even though it faced problems common across the music industry such as the closing of independent record shops and the downloading of music for free.

"The live scene is driving it," he said. "Every week in London there are big name artists from all around the world playing. People have the opportunity to see the big names and the new names."

He also said the role of musicians in recent popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt showed their relevance beyond just entertainment.

Speaking of Femi Kuti, he said: "This album is very angry and it really sounds like Lagos -- quite rough at the edges. And the message is Africa has to look after itself."

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